Famed actress Viola Davis has joined the “Hunger Games” franchise as a villain in the show’s prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

Davis will play head game maker of the 10th annual Hunger Games, “Dr. Volumnia Gaul.”

The cast for “Songbirds and Snakes” also includes West Side Story star Rachel Zegler as “District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird”, Tom Blyth as a “young Coriolanus Snow” (played by Donald Sutherland in the “Hunger Games” movies), Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer and Josh Andrés Rivera.

Director of three of the four “Hunger Games” films, Francis Lawrence, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on Davis’ character, said, “Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games’ most commanding figure.”

Adapted from author Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel, “Songbirds and Snakes”, tells the story of Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from District 12 in the 10th annual Hunger Games, where kids fight to the death in front of an audience. (Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen as District 12’s tribute in the 74th and 75th Games.)

The film’s official synopsis reads, “Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol.”

“With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favour. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” comes to theatres on Nov. 17, 2023.

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