Suzanne Collin's book is hands down, the most fantastic piece I've ever read. Not only did I read obsessively only stopping to get some work done, but I actually was compelled to read it again, a first for me, and then go on to do the same with the sequel, Catching Fire. You'll be hooked from the very first page of the soon-to-be three-book series, when you meet the story's hero, Katniss Everdeen. She lives in Panem, the country formed after the destruction of North America. It consists of the wealthy Capitol and 12 districts, the last of which Katniss calls home. Once every year, each district must select two residents, one boy and one girl both between the ages of 12 and 18, and send them to the Captiol to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death.
The story has some serious big screen potential and a massive diehard fan base to go with it. Lionsgate is in charge of this one and back in May, word got out that the studio planned to have a director by the summer and be ready for a January 2011 start. Clearly the first part never happened and perhaps the second won't either, but with the stellar amount of buzz surrounding the effort, it's likely Lionsgate will make this venture a priority and that means people are already talking casting and getting pretty heated about the topic, too.
I've gone through a number of articles throwing some names into the mix, packed with enthusiastic comments and some pretty harsh ones, too. One actress even has an online petition against her casting. Now I'm ready for you to toss some praise or the disapproval my way because I've thought long and hard about my dream cast and am opting to share. Regardless of who Lionsgate goes with I'm confident the studio is well aware of the incredible story it's got to work with and will funnel in the necessary time and resources to make it the successful film franchise it deserves to be. Anyway, here it goes ...
We're starting off with the actress that will make or break the film, the one who snags the lead role. Folks are tossing out well known names like Kristen Stewart and Megan Fox - both of which are absurd options - and some up and comers like Malese Jow and Jodelle Ferland. Jow and Ferland have the look - long black hair and olive skin - but do they have the talent? I say no. This is a part for someone with experience, someone like Kick-Ass' Chloe Moretz. I recently spoke with the actress about the film and she revealed she'd love to be in it. And who wouldn't love to see her in it? She may not have the look, but this is Hollywood; changing appearances is only a minor piece to the puzzle. Another issue is that she's a little young for the role and by a little, I mean just three years. Again, this is Hollywood, if Moretz needs to look a little older, there are people who can make that happen. The issue her is simply talent and this young actress has it. Thanks to Kick-Ass we know she can handle some serious weaponry and look believable taking out her competition and with the massive amount of upcoming projects on her to-do list, by the time The Hunger Games starts filming, she'll be as ripe as ever for the job. Take the focus off the looks, which aren't really that far off anyway, and Moretz is definitely a prime option.
Now on to the first guy in Katniss' life, her hunting buddy, Gale. He's two years old than Katniss but the two link up one day while hunting in the forbidden woods beyond District 12's fences and not only form a hunting partnership, but a friendship and maybe a little bit more. Gale's got to be a good looking guy, simply because Katniss says so. He also has to have some muscle on him. How about Logan Lerman? He's not Spider-Man anymore so he might be craving a franchise. Plus, the guys got a pretty impressive resume from The Patriot to the sadly short-lived show Jack & Bobby up to his leading role in this year's Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief. That last one is far from perfect, but is certainly enjoyable and solidified Lerman's starring capabilities. And for those of you who are sticklers in the age and looks department, Lerman is 18, like Gale, and has brown hair. As for those grey eyes, Lerman's got a set of light blue ones, so hopefully that'll be close enough.
Here's boy #2 for Katniss. Minus a generous donation a few years back and some secret sentiments, the two are basically strangers until Peeta becomes the District 12 tribute alongside Katniss. He is 16 as well and has a stocky build. He sports ashy blond hair that's long enough to cover his forehead and blue eyes. The blond hair makes me think Max Thieriot, but he's too much of a string bean and I've also yet to see him in anything that really convinces me he's got the necessary talent. You know who looks the part and has the talent? The Reader's David Kross. He's practically a sure thing in terms of acting ability, has the looks for the part and doesn't have too much on his agenda.
This is our first adult role. Years ago, Haymitch was a District 12 tribute and managed to survive. As the only living Hunger Games champion in District 12, it's his duty to mentor the region's entries. He's crass and sarcastic to begin with, but his irritating and rude behavior is amplified whenever he's in a drunken stupor - almost always. And that might have something to due with his paunchy physique. I'm going with Jack Black on this one. The role doesn't provide much room for slapstick or outlandish humor, but perhaps Black can channel his funny side into acute sarcasm.
Prim is Katniss' 12-year-old sister. It's actually Prim's name that's selected during the reaping, the ceremony at which the tributes are selected, but Katniss steps forward to take her place. Unlike her sister, Prim's got blue eyes and light hair. Sound a little like Elle Fanning to you? Dakota's little sis is the perfect age and comes with all the necessary physical characteristics.
Each pair of tributes is given an escort as well as a mentor and this year, the District 12 tributes are escorted by Effie. She's not thrilled about being stuck with the District 12 kids, a rather poor region known for never seeing its tributes return, but she quickly grows attached to Katniss and Peeta. Effie rocks pink hair and is super strict when it comes to manners. Judy Greer could use a film in which she doesn't play the single female lead's snarky best friend and this could really be it. She's got the demeanor I'd expect of Effie and her lack of pink hair won't be a big deal because in the book, the kids think she wears a wig anyway. She and Black could make for an interesting pair.
This is one of my favorite characters of the series. Cinna is Katniss' stylist when she arrives in the Capitol. (Each tribute is assigned a stylist and prep team.) What makes him particularly profound is how he's the first guy to crack Katniss' hard exterior. Considering she's potentially going to her death, you'd think Katniss would need a hug or some sympathy from someone, but she still never really let's anyone in, that is until she meets Cinna. I like Jay Baruchel for the part. The guy is instantly likable. I never really took Cinna to be the cliché stylist-type like a character from Project Runway or a flamboyant hairdresser, more of a mildly metro guy with a warm demeanor.
There may only be one winner in the Hunger Games, but forming alliances is still beneficial - to start at least. Katniss is a loner for quite a while, but winds up forming a bond with a young girl from District 11 who reminds her of Prim, Rue. She's 12 and has dark skin and hair. She uses her petite size to her advantage in the games, hiding in trees, stepping lightly and traveling undetected. Joey King is my choice for this one. After seeing her performance in Ramona and Beezus, it's evident she's got a thing for comedy, but also that she's a fine actress too. Plus, she's had some experience with darker material playing Briana in Quarantine and having a part in the upcoming alien invasion movie Battle: Los Angeles.
Clove and Cato
These two have got to look especially threatening. District 12 is well known for losing in the arena, but some of the other districts, the more wealthy ones, have a reputation for churning out winners. Rather than rely on the random selection of tributes, District 2 trains careers, kids that are bred for the games, kids like Clove and Cato. For Cato I picture someone like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's Viktor Krum, but Stanislav Ianevski is way too old for the role now. I wouldn't mind seeing Philip Ettinger as Cato. He's old for the role, but still has a boyish look to him, which will make him fit in with the rest, but have a bigger stature. As much as I disliked Twelve, Ettinger delivered one of the film's better performances. It's just too bad his character was nearly destroyed by a pitiful interrogation scene. As for Clove, why not go with one of those names being suggested for Katniss? Malese Jow. She may fit the description for Katniss, but I'd feel much more comfortable giving that role to someone with more leading experience. But for Jow, Clove could be a fantastic option. She's got a naturally tough look and with a little knife work training, could certainly pass as Katniss' archenemy.
Let's wrap things up with the man helming it all, President Snow. He's in charge of all of Panem and even though Seneca Crane is the Head Gamemaker of the Hunger Games, it all comes down to Snow. He actually doesn't even appear in The Hunger Games until the very end, but should this film turn into a franchise, his casting will be vital for subsequent films. Snow's described as a small man with white hair, but most importantly, the guy who snags this role needs to have "snakelike eyes" and be able to deliver one heck of a mean glare. There aren't many actors who can go from warm and loving to downright sinister quite like Ian Holm in Lord of the Rings. Of course President Snow doesn't literally turn into a monster like Holm does in LOTR, but this guy's a fantastic actor; he probably didn't even need all of those added effects during that scene in LOTR anyway.
Now the time has come; bring on the suggestions, the approval, disapproval and anything else that will be vital when casting finally begins. Do you agree with my selections? Do you have some of your own? Let's hear it!