West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler to Star in Hunger Games Prequel

Rachel Zegler will star in ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ (Photo credit: Nathan Johnson)

Rachel Zegler continues her starring role in Steven Spielberg West Side Story with a starring role in Lionsgate The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The hunger Games prequel will be directed by Francis Lawrence, director of three of the four hunger games feature films.

“Like everyone else, I saw Rachel Zegler for the first time in West Side Story, and like everyone else, I knew I was looking at a star who would rule the screen for a generation,” Lawrence said. “Lucy Gray is a perfect fit for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent and provocative, but also vulnerable, emotional and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.

Gary Ross directed the 2012s The hunger Games with Francis Lawrence at the head of Catch fire (2013), Mocking Jay Part 1 (2014), and Mocking Jay Part 2 (2015). The films are adapted from the best-selling dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins, and Collins is on board to executive produce The Ballad of Songbirds and Serpents.

Rachel Zegler will play Lucy Gray Baird. Billy the kid star Tom Blyth is confirmed to play the role of young Coriolanus Snow. (Donald Sutherland played the older version of Snow in all four hunger games movies.) Director Lawrence, Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson will produce, with Tim Palen and Jim Miller executive producing.

“Lucy Gray is an incredibly complex character, a performer who must use every skill in her arsenal to survive. Our casting team, Deb Zane and Dylan Jury, conducted an exhaustive search, reading hundreds of actors looking for our perfect Lucy Gray. That search ended when Rachel Zegler blew the roof off with her depth and breadth of talent as an actress, singer, and performer. Rachel is utterly compelling; just like Lucy Gray, her voice and her charisma dominate the stage while her inner strength and her humanity transform those around her,” said producer Nina Jacobson.

Lionsgate is targeting a theatrical release on November 17, 2023.

The studio released the following description of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:

“Years before becoming the tyrannical president of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope of his dwindling bloodline, a once-proud family that has fallen out of favor in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, young Snow is alarmed when he is named a mentor to Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute of impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray gets the full attention of Panem singing defiantly during the harvest ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor.

Uniting their showmanship instincts 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.

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