MANILA, Philippines – Award-winning actress Viola Davis has joined the star-studded cast of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, the highly-anticiapted Hunger Games prequel, as its lead villain Dr. Volumnia Gaul.
“Meet your Head Gamemaker. Viola Davis has been cast as Dr. Volumnia Gaul,” the film’s official Instagram account announced on Tuesday, August 16.
In an exclusive report by The Hollywood Reporter, director Francis Lawrence, who directed three of the four Hunger Games movies, described Davis’ character as someone “cruel as she is creative and as fearful as she is formidable.”
Producer Nina Jacobson added that Davis has been their “dream” casting for the role because of her “finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role.”
“We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role,” she said.
Davis also expressed her excitement for the role, saying that she’s “glad to be a part of this universe.”
Davis will be joining Tom Blyth, who plays the young Corriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler, who plays Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from District 12. Hunter Schafer will also reprise the role of Tigris Snow, who first appeared in Mockingjay Part 2, while Peter Dinklage will play Casca Highbottom. Other cast members include Athena Strates, Cooper Dillion, Dakota Shapiro, Dmitri Abold, George Somner, Irene Boehm, and Vaughan Reilly.
Based on the Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set decades before the events in the Hunger Games trilogy, and instead centers on an 18-year-old Snow before he became the tyrannical President of Panem.
In the novel, Snow was alarmed when he was chosen to mentor Baird, the female tribute from the impoverished District 12, during the 10th Hunger Games. But, after Braird caught everyone’s attention by singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow now believes that he can turn the odds in their favor and win the game.
The successful Hunger Games franchise is based on Collins’ best-selling trilogy that includes the young adult dystopian novels, The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009), and Mockingjay (2010). The films have collectively grossed over $3 billion globally so far, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, and Donald Sutherland.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set to premiere on November 17, 2023.