Hunger Games director teases major difference between Jennifer Lawrence and Rachel Zegler’s characters

Director Francis Lawrence has identified the key differences between The Hunger Games franchise’s former protagonist Katniss Everdeen and its new lead Lucy Gray.

Starring West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is set 60 years before the events of the original trilogy, which featured Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.

Lawrence, who directed the Hunger Games sequels, Catching Fire, Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2, returns to direct the forthcoming prequel also based on Suzanne Collins’s novel of the same name.

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will focus on the backstory of the Games’ oppressive president Coriolanus Snow, portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the original trilogy.

Speaking to Empire magazine about the major differences between Lucy and Katniss, Lawrence described the latter as “an introvert and a survivor”.

“She was quite quiet and stoic, you could almost say [she was] asexual,” Lawrence explained. “Lucy Gray is the opposite. She wears her sexuality on her sleeve. She really is a performer.

“She loves crowds,” Lawrence added. “She knows how to play crowds and manipulate people.”

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen (Lionsgate)
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen (Lionsgate)

In April, the movie’s first released trailer showed Peter Dinklage as the Games’ “vindictive” architect, as well as Zegler performing some musical melodies on stage.

The official logline reads: “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 favour.”

It continued: “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.”

Tom Blyth portrays the 18-year-old Snow, while Euphoria breakout Hunter Schafer and Viola Davis also feature in key roles.

As the film is set decades before the original trilogy, it will not see Jennifer Lawrence reprise her role. However, in June, the 33-year-old actor told Variety that she would “totally” be open to playing Katniss again.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes premieres in cinemas on 17 November.