Tom Blyth cemented himself as one of the year’s breakout stars after his leading turn as a young Coriolanus Snow in Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” — and his scenes opposite Oscar winner Viola Davis are some of the film’s best.
Speaking with TheWrap ahead of the Francis Lawrence feature’s Nov. 17 premiere, the 28-year-old Brit revealed how he and Davis first broke the ice by commiserating about their shared experience training at The Juilliard School.
“It was one of the first things we connected on, when we first had a scene together, was that we both graduated from the same school — different classes, obviously,” Blyth said with a laugh. (He graduated from the esteemed, notoriously elite university in 2020 while Davis graduated in 1993.)
Blyth, whose Coriolanus must bend in submission — and violent collaboration — to Davis’ head gamemaker Dr. Volumnia Gaul in the dystopian prequel, said that he and his costar shared “war stories” of their own and even realized they had some of the same instructors.
“We shared a few war stories from being in the conservatory and sharing that experience. We had a crazy moment where we realized that we had some of the same teachers, because some of those teachers had been there so long and were such legends that some of them have only just retired,” the actor said. “So that was a nutty kind of experience for me because I was like, you know, she’s literally one of the best to ever do it, and we’re working together and we’ve like gone through some of the exact same training.”
A highlight of his time working with “The Woman King” and “Fences” star was watching her “navigate obstacles” in a scene using the same Juilliard-honed techniques he’d been trained to implement.
“Her speech work is incredible, the way she comes in with it with vocal choices and the way she uses, literally, the dexterity of her mouth,” Blyth said. “Just the way she uses physicality so specifically. You see that in the film — Dr. Gould, she’s very unique.
“She uses them with such pro, deft hands,” he added. “I look at it and I hope when I’ve had a few more years of experience, I can use that same tool just as well as her.”
Despite all the apparent work that goes into building a character and making a scene with a costar shine, Blyth concluded that his time with Davis was also a highlight because of how “gracious” she was while working with greener actors like him.
“I was so intimidated the first day. I had quite a big scene where I just went through a pretty emotional experience in the Games and was forced to be violent, and her character comes in and we have an intimate scene, just the two of us,” Blyth said. “I was quaking in my boots, and she put me at ease and made me remember that it’s just playing together. And it can be easy. It doesn’t have to be so serious. She’s awesome.”
“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is now playing in theaters everywhere.