Francis Lawrence, who directed three of the four original Hunger Games films, is back in the director’s chair for the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. He sat down with Entertainment Weekly to give an overview of what to expect from the latest franchise installment, and explained the appeal of watching a man break bad.
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Tom Blythe stars alongside Rachel Zegler as a young Coriolanus Snow, the same character that Donald Sutherland played in the 2010s. Lawrence said, “I didn’t want him to study early Donald Sutherland performances. I didn’t want it to be mimicry in any way. I wanted him to play the part in the way that he would play the part.”
Zegler’s character is Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from District 12 and the titular songbird. Nina Jacobson, the producer for the original Hunger Games movies as well as this prequel, said that Blythe nailed his audition, but sealed the deal during a chemistry test with Zegler. The West Side Story actress apparently sang an acapella version of “Wildwood Flower,” and Jacobson said that “he couldn’t take his eyes off of her—she stunned him in the way that Lucy stuns Snow.”
Jacobson explained how it’s really the shift from good kid to bad man that makes Blythe’s performance so compelling. “Tom is extraordinary as the turn happens. As he starts to break bad, as you start to see the man that he becomes breaking out of the shell of the man that he might’ve been, it’s incredibly gratifying.”
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.
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