Viola Davis will be the one controlling the odds in The Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The Oscar winner (Best Supporting Actress for 2016's Fences) has been cast in the villainous role of Head Gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul.

"Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable," director Francis Lawrence says. "Snow's savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the Games’ most commanding figure."

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set decades before The Hunger Games trilogy and centers on an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), who hopes to restore his family's good name by mentoring a tribute to victory in the 10th annual Hunger Games. But when he is paired with Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) from District 12, will the odds be in either of their favor?

In addition to Blyth and Zegler, Davis joins a cast that includes Peter Dinklage as Hunger Games creator Casca Highbottom, Jason Schwartzman as emcee Lucretius "Lucky" Flickerman, and Hunter Schafer as Coriolanus' cousin, Tigris Snow.

"From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role," adds franchise producer Nina Jacobson. "A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become. We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola's extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role."

Lawrence (who previously directed Catching Fire and both installments of Mockingjay) will helm from a screenplay by Michael Lesslie, Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes arrives in theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.


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