Rachel Zegler to Star in 'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'

Rachel Zegler hinted on Twitter Monday that she would play Lucy Gray Baird opposite Tom Blyth's young Coriolanus Snow in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Rachel Zegler
Rachel Zegler. Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Rachel Zegler has entered Panem.

The 21-year-old West Side Story actress will play Lucy Gray Baird, the female lead of the upcoming Hunger Games prequel film adaptation The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Lionsgate announced Tuesday.

Zegler shared the new of her casting on social media, as well as a pair of snapshots of herself on the phone at a restaurant looking excited, which she captioned, "Photos from when i found out it was happening and it was real."

The star — who is set to play Snow White in Disney's upcoming live-action movie — previously hinted at her casting Monday morning, writing on Twitter, "Listen up ... can y'all grow restfully? are you becoming an individual resting decisively?"

On Tuesday, Zegler re-shared the tweet to her Instagram Story with the letter of each word underlined in red, spelling out "LUCY GRAY BAIRD." She joked in text atop the image, "I was raised by Taylor Swift," referencing the singer's penchant for hidden clues.

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Zegler will appear opposite Billy the Kid star Tom Blyth, whose casting as the young President Coriolanus Snow PEOPLE exclusively announced earlier this month.

Ballad takes place within the Hunger Games universe, set roughly 64 years before the first book in the original trilogy. The story follows an 18-year-old Snow, who would eventually rise to become the tyrannical president of the dystopian nation of Panem, and the main villain of the Hunger Games series.

Donald Sutherland portrayed the authoritarian President Snow across the first four movies, which followed the story of a brutal, annual affair where two adolescent tributes from each of the 12 districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death in a televised survival challenge.

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An official synopsis for the new film reads, "Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol."

"With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem's attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor," it continues.

The synopsis adds, "Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy's race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake."

Francis Lawrence, who directed the last three films in the series — The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Parts 1 and 2 of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay will return to direct the new movie, while series author Suzanne Collins will serve as an executive producer alongside Tim Palen. Michael Lesslie will write the script, based on Collins' 2020 book.

"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 a press release. "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."

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

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