EXCLUSIVE: For the upcoming Hunger Games prequel, the odds are in its favor to add an Emmy-winning star to the cast. Sources tell Deadline that Peter Dinklage is set to join the growing ensemble of Lionsgate’s Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.
Dinklage will play Casca Highbottom, dean of the Academy. He will star in the film opposite Tom Blyth, who will play the young Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler, as tribute Lucy Gray Baird. Francis Lawrence, who directed the franchise’s Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part One, and Mockingjay Part Two, will direct the adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel.
“Dean Highbottom is one of the most powerful people in Snow’s life,” Lawrence said. “As the austere and vindictive face of the games, he sets the rules that will determine every aspect of Coriolanus’ fate. I’m thrilled that Peter will be bringing him to life.”
The studio recently announced that moviegoers will return to The Hunger Games, the landmark 2010s film franchise that has earned more than $3 billion globally, as The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes debuts in theaters worldwide on November 17, 2023.
Here’s the logline: Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow 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, 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.
“With production underway, we couldn’t be more excited about the way this cast has come together and thrilled to be welcoming Peter Dinklage to Panem,” said Nathan Kahane, President of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group. “Peter is not just a fan favorite actor who brings a commanding presence to every part he plays. He is one of the best actors alive. He will bring a formidable, charismatic authority to the important role of the dean of the Academy.”
The pic will be shepherded by franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her producing partner Brad Simpson, along with Lawrence. Collins, Tim Palen, and Jim Miller will serve as executive producers.
“I cannot think of an actor more perfectly suited to inhabit the role of Highbottom,” Jacobson said. “As the man credited with conceiving the Hunger Games and the Dean of the Academy, Casca Highbottom is a character with secrets. Peter’s magnetism, intensity and dark humor will infuse him with the intelligence, depth and pathos that the role demands.”
The latest draft of the screenplay is by Michael Lesslie. Lesslie builds on the work of writers Suzanne Collins and Michael Arndt, who penned a previous draft. Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are overseeing on behalf of the studio.
Dinklage, who is best known for his acclaimed and Emmy-winning work as Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s global hit series Game of Thrones, has been very busy since GoT ended its run in 2018. He most recently starred as Cyrano for director Joe Wright. His upcoming work includes Brothers opposite Josh Brolin and Brendan Fraser and She Came to Me opposite Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei for writer-director Rebecca Miller. He is represented by CAA and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.
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