Rachel Zegler Cast as Lucy Gray Baird in 'Hunger Games' Prequel Film

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Another tribute has been chosen for the upcoming Hunger Games prequel film, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Lionsgate announced on Monday that West Side Story star Rachel Zegler has been cast in a lead role, and will play Lucy Gray Baird in the upcoming, Francis Lawrence-directed adaptation of the latest Hunger Games novel by franchise author Suzanne Collins.

Zegler joins Tom Blyth in the film, who was previously cast to play the young Coriolanus Snow, who mentors Lucy in the 10th Hunger Games, many years before he evolves into the Capitol's sinister President Snow. The female tribute from District 12, Lucy is an orphan and a singer, who wows her mentor and eventually, viewers across Panem, with her impressive voice -- before proving in the Games that she's even more cunning than she seems.

“Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation,” said Lawrence in the press release announcing her casting. "Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable." 

"Lucy Gray is an incredibly complex character, a performer who has to use every skill in her arsenal to survive. Our casting team, Deb Zane and Dylan Jury, spearheaded an exhaustive search, reading hundreds of actors in search of our perfect Lucy Gray," agreed producer Nina Jacobson. "That search ended when Rachel Zegler blew the roof off with her depth and breadth of talent as an actor, singer, and performer. Rachel is utterly compelling; just like Lucy Gray, her voice and charisma command the stage while her inner strength and humanity transform those around her."

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is due in theaters on Nov. 17, 2023. See more on the franchise in the video below.

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