Viola Davis joins Hunger Games prequel as villainous gamemaker

·2 min read
Viola Davis joins Hunger Games prequel as villainous gamemaker

Viola Davis has been cast as the twisted antagonist of Lionsgate's Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Oscar winner will play Volumnia Gaul, the head gamemaker of the 10th annual Hunger Games. An instructor at the University, the scientist is also the mastermind behind the Capitol's experimental weapons division. A cruel and calculating adversary to a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), Dr. Gaul also bred various muttations (the genetically modified animals featured in the book trilogy and original film franchise) in an underground laboratory.

The prequel tells the story of an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow before he becomes the tyrannical president of Panem. The "last hope for his fading lineage" and a "once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol," per the press release, Snow is — to his dismay — assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12, at the 10th annual Hunger Games.

Along with Blyth and Zegler, Davis joins previously announced cast members Hunter Schafer, Josh Andrés Rivera, Jason Schwartzman, Jerome Lance, Ashley Liao, Knox Gibson, Mackenzie Lansing, and Aamer Husain.

Viola Davis attends Opening Night and Sony Pictures Entertainment Presentation at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 25, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Viola Davis attends Opening Night and Sony Pictures Entertainment Presentation at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 25, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Viola Davis

"From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role," producer Nina Jacobson said in a statement. "A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become. We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola's extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role."

Director Francis Lawrence added, "Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow's savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games' most commanding figure."

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes arrives in theaters Nov. 17, 2023.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content: