Viola Davis has joined Lionsgate’s Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Davis becomes Dr. Play Volumnia Gaul, the chief playmaker at the 10th Annual Hunger Games. She joins Tom Blyth, who will play young Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler, who plays the tribute to Lucy Gray Baird of impoverished District 12. Other announced stars are Josh Andrés Rivera, Peter Dinklage and Hunter Schafer.
The prequel synopsis 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 fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the tribute girl from impoverished District 12. Snow thinks he can turn the odds in her favor. Combining their instinct for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately show who is a songbird and who is a snake.”
Francis Lawrence, who directed three of the four Hunger Games films, is back at the helm and will also produce with franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her partner Brad Simpson. Hunger Games writer Suzanne Collins and Tim Palen will executive produce. Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are supervising on behalf of the studio.
“The Hunger Games films have always been distinguished by their exceptional cast, and we are delighted to continue that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul. Her impressive and powerful presence will add even more complexity and menace to this story,” said Nathan Kahane, President of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
“DR. Gaul is as gruesome as he is creative, and as terrifying as he is awe-inspiring. Snow’s skill as a political actor evolves in no small part from his experience with her as the games’ most powerful character,” said Lawrence. Jacobson adds, “From the start, Viola was our dream for Dr. Gaul, because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role.A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become.We are incredibly fortunate to have an actress of Viola’s exceptional reach and presence in this key role.”
Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner Davis will next star in The Woman King, which she also produced through her JuVee Productions. The film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival ahead of Sony’s theatrical release. Other upcoming on-screen roles include Black Adam, reprising her role as DC character Amanda Waller, and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Nike Air Jordan project at Amazon.
Davis is represented by CAA, Lasher Group and Lichter Grossman.