Lionsgate has announced that the studio has cast Rachel Zegler, who recently awed audiences in her performance as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s ”West Side Story”, as Lucy Gray Baird in the studio’s highly anticipated feature film ”The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ #1 New York Times bestseller. Zegler will star as the female lead in the film opposite Tom Blyth, who will play the young Coriolanus Snow.
The studio recently announced that moviegoers will return to ”The Hunger Games”, the landmark film franchise that has earned over $3 billion globally, as ”The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” debuts in theaters worldwide on November 17, 2023. 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 favor. 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.
“Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation,” said Francis Lawrence. “Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.”
“Lucy Gray is an incredibly complex character, a performer who has to use every skill in her arsenal to survive. Our casting team, Deb Zane and Dylan Jury, spearheaded an exhaustive search, reading hundreds of actors in search of our perfect Lucy Gray. That search ended when Rachel Zegler blew the roof off with her depth and breadth of talent as an actor, singer, and performer. Rachel is utterly compelling; just like Lucy Gray, her voice and charisma command the stage while her inner strength and humanity transform those around her,” said producer Nina Jacobson.