How did Panem devolve into the casual cruelty we see in The Hunger Games? The capitol of the nation prospers while citizens in many of its districts suffer and struggle to survive. Author Suzanne Collins explored the events before the 74th Hunger Games in a prequel novel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, set 64 years in the past. The story, which Lionsgate is adapting into a film, specifically focuses on Coriolanus Snow. He later becomes the tyrannical leader of Panem. But as a young man, he doesn’t see the world—or the games—so clearly. A girl from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, gives him a new perspective.
Before you see The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, here’s what you should know about the characters and how they connect to what and who you know from The Hunger Games. We also have a few exclusive character images to share.
Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, is an 18-year-old looking out for his family. He’s decades away from becoming the President Snow we know from the books and movie adaptations. Here, he’s trying to regain status for his family, as the aftermath from the war has left them under financial duress. Snow wants to keep up appearances and improve their situation. As part of this, when he is chosen to mentor a tribute in the 10th Hunger Games, he accepts the position with aplomb—even when he is stuck with a tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird.
Lucy Gray Baird
Lucy Gray Baird, from District 12, is the captivating and enigmatic tribute in the 10th annual Hunger Games who young Coriolanus mentors. Rachel Zegler portrays Lucy Gray. District 12 is, of course, the coal-mining district where we later meet Katniss Everdeen. Lucy Gray charms the Capitol at the reaping and makes a memorable entry to the games. A performer in a musical singing troupe, the Covey, with her family, Lucy Gray is unafraid of the Capitol and the architects of the game. She doesn’t hesitate to enlighten Snow about what life in the districts is like.
Oh, Casca Highbottom. Peter Dinklage plays this character, dean of the Academy and the person who came up with the concept for the Hunger Games. Highbottom once shared that idea with Coriolanus’ father and eventually, their hypothetical ponderings became reality, leaving Highbottom (rightfully) morally conflicted. Highbottom has an addiction to the painkiller morphling.
Remember Tigris from Mockingjay? She appeared in Mockingjay – Part 2, played by Eugenie Bondurant. In that time, she owns a clothing shop and has altered her appearance; she offers shelter to Katniss. But Tigris is Coriolanus’ cousin. Hunter Schafer plays her in The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Tigris is already stylish and resourceful, and she believes in her cousin and his character.
Josh Andrés Rivera plays Sejanus Plinth. He attends the Academy with Snow and is also chosen to mentor a Tribute for the 10th Hunger Games. He’s in a privileged position, with his now wealthy and powerful family at his back, but he still must define his allegiance to the Capitol and prove himself.
Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman
Caesar Flickerman brings pizazz to the Hunger Games in Katniss’ time. He’s a well-known figure, playing a key part in the Games’ success. But it’s his predecessor, Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman who kicks off this legacy. Jason Schwartzman plays Lucky, the first-ever host for The Hunger Games broadcast. He’s a weatherman and amateur magician eager for a chance to show his talents in the national spotlight and make the games a can’t-miss event.
Dr. Volumnia Gaul
Dr. Volumnia Gaul, played by Viola Davis, is a cruel force behind the games. An instructor at the Academy and the Head Gamesmaker, Dr. Gaul ensures the Hunger Games are riveting. She wants to show the Capitol’s commitment to the punishment of the Districts and make it an unforgettable spectacle. She operates the Capitol’s weapons division, coming up with inventive and horrific ways to torment the Tributes.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will arrive in theaters on November 17.