Every few years a film franchise hits theaters that becomes a sensation, especially among young people. The Hunger Games was definitely in that category, with the four movies doing super well in theaters. Moviegoers will soon be able to return to Panem with the prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (see what we know here), which stars Rachel Zegler. And she recently compared her Hunger Games character to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen.
The Hunger Games movies made Jennifer Lawrence into a household name, and she received a ton of praise for her portrayal of protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Zegler’s new character Lucy Gray Baird is also from District 12, so there are understandably plenty of comparisons already being made between the two heroes. In a recent conversation with ComicBook, the West Side Story actress spoke about the connective tissue between her character and Katniss, saying:
As actors, watching Jennifer's performance in the original trilogy is watching a masterclass in performance in general. When it came to the approach of Lucy Gray, I kind of felt like I didn't have to [study her]. I came to what Tom [Blyth] was saying, it kind of puts an unnecessary pressure because it's a different character and a different time of Panem. And I feel like Lucy Gray is a war-torn teenager who's had everything she knows ripped from her yet she's still making the best of it. And so it was very similar to Katniss in that perspective, but she's a very different dynamic in response to being placed in an arena in front of a bunch of people and having to make the world root for her. She's very good at that.
There you have it. It looks like Zegler didn’t necessarily re-watch the Hunger Games movie or try to emulate Jennifer Lawreence’s performance as Katniss. Instead, she simply let Lucy’s background and life in Panem inform the way she brought another District 12 tribute to life on the big screen. And just like that she led the cast of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Despite their similar origin, Katniss and Lucy look to be quite different as a whole. While Jennifer Lawrence’s hero didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight and had a fairly gruff exterior, Rachel Zegler’s new character is a natural performer and singer. And as such, she should appeal to Capitol sponsors in a very unique way. Later in that same interview, Zegler spoke about that aspect of her character, saying:
She's very persuasive in her performance and very good at getting an audience on her side. So it was very fun to play that. But I do think that there's elements of Katniss within her and that makes it all the more fun to go back and watch the original trilogy and kind of see how Snow remains haunted by Lucy Gray even in his later life because there are echoes of her within Katniss Everdeen.
Touche. It should be fascinating to see how The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is linked to the original franchise, and any ways that Katniss’ adventures might be hinted at. While there are some fans who want to see Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games prequel, it’s probably best to let the new story stand on its own.
Katniss might not physically appear in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but her influence has definitely been felt. Case in point: Rachel Zegler has been nodding to that heroine in her red carpet choices for the prequel. And Zegler recently revealed what it was like meeting Jennifer Lawrence after filming.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will hit theaters on November 17th. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.