EXCLUSIVE: We have learned that Lionsgate’s prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has landed its first round of tribute and mentor characters in the Francis Lawrence directed film.
Jerome Lance will play Marcus, the tribute from District 2. Ashley Liao will play Clemensia Dovecote, one of Coriolanus’s closest friends and mentor to a tribute from District 11. Knox Gibson will play Bobbin, tribute from District 8; Mackenzie Lansing will play Coral, tribute from District 4; while Aamer Husain will play Felix Ravinstill, the mentor to a tribute from District 11.
The five will star opposite already announced Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler.
The prequel in the $3 billion grossing franchise, which hits theaters on Nov. 17, 2023, is set years before Coriolanus Snow comes to power as the tyrannical President of Panem. The 18-year-old Snow (Blyth) 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 (Zegler), 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.
Lance is in his final year at Royal Welsh, and in the current cohort of Open Door. He recently performed his own writing at their Donmar Showcase. He is represented by The Artists Partnership.
Liao recently shot the lead role in the ACE Entertainment feature Loveboat Taipeiwhich is based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name. She played the teenage version of Ali Wong in the Netflix romantic comedy Always Be My Maybeand starred as Princess Eleanor in the Disney+ original movie Secret Society of Second Born Royals. She also had a leading role in the Debby Ryan-produced film Jessica Darling’s It List. She had a series regular role in the Apple TV+ series Physical opposite Rose Byrne. Best known for her role as Lola in the Netflix series Fuller HouseLiao has also guest starred on numerous series including NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Speechless, Fresh Off the Boatand bad teacher. She is represented by Innovative Artists, Semler Entertainment, and Skrzyniarz & Mallean.
Australian native Gibson, who is an amputee, had a breakout role starring as the lead in the Netflix short film Forgive Us Our Trespasses, released in February. Additionally, Knox is a national athlete for swimming and is a disability and inclusion advocate. He believes that positive representation of people with disabilities onscreen is incredibly important as it leads to more acceptance in society and it challenges negative stereotypes and preconceived ideas. He is represented by C Talent.
Lansing is a French/American actress best known for her work on HBO’s The Deuce and Mare of Easttown. She will next be seen in Allswelldebuting at Tribeca, and recently filmed a role for Gareth Edwards’ True Love with John David Washington. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She rounded out her conservatory education by attending The Labyrinth Summer Intensive and Maggie Flanigan Studio. Her transition into film and television began with guest spots on Red Oaks and Tell Me a Story. She is repped by Clear Talent Group and MJ Management.
Husain appeared on Hudson & Rex. He is represented by The Characters Agency & David Dean Management. Photo below, credit Curtis & Cort Photography:
Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are producing along with Lawrence. The latter previously directed the franchise’s Catching Fire, Mocking Jay Part Oneand Mocking Jay Part Two. Suzanne Collins, Tim Palen, and Jim Miller will serve as EPs.
The latest draft of the screenplay is by Michael Lesslie. He builds on the work of author Collins’ bestselling novel and Michael Arndt. Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are overseeing on behalf of Lionsgate.