After nearly a decade away from the cinematic world of The Hunger Games, audiences will soon return to the dystopian landscape of the series with this fall’s prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. It’s a book-to-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel about the origins of Coriolanus Snow when he was a teen (and long before he was president) as he mentored a District 12 tribute during the 10th Hunger Games, played by Rachel Zegler. Ahead of its release, the film’s director teased how Zegler’s character is different from Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, and I can tell he really gets the material.
Rachel Zegler is set to play Lucy Gray Baird, who is the female tribute for District 12, like Katniss Everdeen was, but over 60 years prior. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ director, Francis Lawrence, who also helmed three out of the four original Hunger Games movies, contrasted the tributes recently, saying this:
Katniss was an introvert and a survivor. She was quite quiet and stoic, you could almost say [she was] asexual. Lucy Gray is the opposite. She wears her sexuality on her sleeve, [and] she really is a performer. She loves crowds. She knows how to play crowds and manipulate people.
Lawrence also described Lucy Gray Baird as the “anti-Katniss” while speaking to Empire about the upcoming prequel. As a longtime fan of The Hunger Games books, including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I totally agree with this characterization of the two female protagonists of the franchise. Many people have yet to meet and understand Rachel Zegler’s character, but what’s particularly exciting about her is how different she is than Katniss because she goes about the Games in a different way than we’d seen already in the original book trilogy.
While Katniss is a character who was completely content with spending her days hunting alongside Gale rather than be in front of a crowd a day in her life, Lucy Gray Baird is a natural-born performer who draws attention to herself on purpose to win the hearts and minds of the public. She became a crowd favorite during the 10th Hunger Games, especially due to her talent for singing. No spoilers here, but Katniss Everdeen would not be caught dead doing many of the things Lucy does during her time in the Hunger Games.
Rachel Zegler is among another fantastic cast for the franchise, with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cast list featuring the likes of Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage and such. Check out the trailer for the prequel ahead of its November release:
While there are tons of ways the two District 12 tributes don’t align, you’ll definitely notice parallels between the two characters. For one, Zegler actually nodded to J-Law’s Katniss in one scene that can be seen in the above trailer. Thinking about the differences between the original Hunger Games movies and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, out November 17, is definitely getting me even more excited for the dystopian thriller!