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Casting ‘The Hunger Games’: The Playlist Picks For Katniss Everdeen

Casting 'The Hunger Games': The Playlist Picks For Katniss Everdeen

Earlier this week, director Gary Ross‘ adaptation of “The Hunger Games” received a release date of March 23, 2012. With the roll-out of the film being a little over a year away, we expect to hear casting decisions any day now, and as “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” near their final installments, the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy is being eyed as the next Young Adult phenomenon, and it’s hoped it could launch a group of stars in the same way that those earlier franchises did. There are a number of key roles in the franchise, but the one that’s attracted the most attention so far is the female lead, Katniss Everdeen. Now that the film has had its date set on the calendar, we thought we’d have a look at some possible contenders for the role, as well as some other key figures that Ross will be casting.

If you haven’t had the chance to pick up the books, they take place in a not-too-distant future, where the United States has been divided into 12 Districts, all ruled by the ominously named Capitol. Each year, as a reminder to the Districts of how powerless they are under Capitol rule, two teenage representatives are picked via lottery from each district to compete in the Hunger Games, a nationally televised fight to the death between what are essentially children, where the last one standing is victor. The story is told through the experiences of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl from the desperately poor District 12, who volunteers to replace her younger sister as one of the selected representatives, and whose casting is crucial for the film to work. While the comparisons to ‘Twilight,’ the last teen literary phenomenon, are inevitable (particularly due to the central love triangle), the two heroines couldn’t be more different. Katniss needs to be played by an actress who is physically strong, intelligent, and can display a vast emotional range; there’s no hair-chewing, nail-biting angst à la Kristen Stewart. Ross has yet to confirm any narrowing down of the field, ahead of the shortlist story that’s bound to appear in the next few months, so basically any female actress between the age of 14 and 25 has a shot at this point. We’ve picked a few of who could be among the most likely contenders.

Bella Heathcote
Why She Could Do It: Heathcote is probably the least well-known of the actresses here, but she’s been making some serious waves in the last few months, and is clearly a star on the rise. She was recently one of a number of names rumored for the lead in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” although Kristen Stewart emerged as the frontrunner this week. She has a small role in Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi thriller “Now” and her first lead in David Chase’s “Twylight Zones,” so she’s climbing the rungs at surprising speed. She also just scored a role in “Cogan’s Trade” alongside Brad Pitt. Not too shabby.
Why She Might Not: She’s something of an unknown quantity at this point, to be frank, so it’s hard to say whether or not she’s right for the role. Katniss is a tough customer, and Heathcote strikes us as rather delicate. Her casting in “Cogan’s Trade” may disprove that (although it should be said that, as much as we love Andrew Dominik, he doesn’t write killer female roles, really). Heathcote’s going places, but she strikes us as wrong for the part.

Lyndsy Fonseca
Why She Could Do It: Of the names mentioned here, Fonseca probably shares the closest physical resemblance to the description of Katniss with her olive skin and dark hair. She proved in “Kick Ass” and, most recently, the CW show “Nikita” that she can, well, kick ass harder than most of her peers, but without letting her performance slip: on “Nikita,” she doesn’t let Maggie Q’s titular character outshine her. She’d probably fit right in with an action tentpole like the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, and she’s both recognizable enough, and surely cheap enough, to headline a franchise that’s trying to keep the costs fairly low.
Why She Might Not: Fonseca is, after all, mainly a television star with no leading roles yet to her name. It’s a big job to be handed over to someone who hasn’t yet proved that they can carry a film on their own — not to mention that her commitment to “Nikita” may be a problem for future films, if not the first one. Plus, at 24, she could be a little old to be taking on the role of a 16-year-old for a film trilogy that could end when she’s almost 30. But hey, Hollywood knows how to mask age well, and, considering the recent furor over MTV‘s “Skins,” it’s entirely possible that the characters could be aged up a little, to tone down the tumult of underage murder otherwise heading to the screens.

Ophelia Lovibond
Why She Could Do It: She was one of the many names thrown out for the female lead of Marc Webb’s “Spider-Man” earlier in the year, before the role went to Emma Stone. No sweat off her back: she had decent parts in Britflicks “Nowhere Boy” and “,” and made her Hollywood debut in “No Strings Attached,” before lining up a small role in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” later this year. Her face is out there, for sure, and like Heathcote, her name has already been thrown around for a lead role in a major tentpole. She also looks the part of Katniss as much as anyone here.
Why She Might Not: Like Fonseca, she’s also 24, but she admittedly looks far younger — 16 shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. More insurmountable might be the path from English rose to Appalachian badass. She’s also leaning towards comedy at present, without a ton of action credits so far, and considering the grueling action of “The Hunger Games,” that may be a factor. Also, the bangs would have to go…

Saoirse Ronan
Why She Could Do It: Well, first of all, she’s the perfect age to play Katniss and carry her through to the finish, without requiring a ‘Twilight’-style one-film-a-year schedule. She’s got a tremendous dramatic range, with one Oscar nomination already under her belt, and she’s turning to action for the first time shortly, in Joe Wright‘s “Hanna,” and looks like she’s pulled it off. Of all the mentioned girls, she looks the least like Katniss naturally, but with some dyed hair and a braid, it’s not going to be a stretch; besides, surely it’s more important to cast the right actor, rather than the right face. She’s also the biggest name here, meaning Lionsgate would surely feel confident in keeping her in there.
Why She Might Not: She’s already super busy with other projects, including “The Hobbit” — though it’s unknown how big or small her role will be — and she’s undoubtedly the most expensive name on the list, which is probably not what Lionsgate will be going for. And, while it’s unclear if the audience is as loud and vociferous as the ‘Twilight’ one (we’re sure we’re about to find out in the comments section below), the visual differences may be too great for the fanbase.

Kaya Scodelario
Why She Could Do It: Another actress of appropriate age, Scodelario doesn’t have many credits to her name, but she’s certainly made an impression in a fast time. Starting out on “Skins” in the U.K., before moving on to a teeny-tiny role in “Clash of the Titans,” she’s scored her first big role as Catherine Earnshaw in Andrea Arnold‘s much-anticipated version of “Wuthering Heights.” Something like ‘Hunger Games’ could turn her into a massive star if she proves she can handle art fare and a massive studio project. Plus, she’s hinted she already received the script (along with Fonseca), so we imagine that she’s being considered.
Why She Might Not: She looks a little fragile to play Katniss, but she could train and pack on some weight; unlike the porcelain Heathcote, there’s an almost feral quality to her. All in all, she’s probably the most on-paper perfect choice for Katniss, and one we firmly endorse.

Hailee Steinfeld
Why She Could Do It: She’s coming off her extraordinary performance, and the subsequent Oscar buzz surrounding “True Grit,”; it’s one of the most remarkable debut performances in some time, and after picking up an Oscar nomination this week, she’s fresh in studio executives’ mind. She was fantastic as a tough child hunting her father’s killer in the film, proving she has a flair for drama and can create a strong female persona like Katniss, while she can clearly handle the physical demands of the role as well. At present, she doesn’t have any projects coming up, leaving her wide open for a trilogy like this.
Why She Might Not: At only 14, she’s way too young to play Katniss right now — while it’s possible for the character to be aged down, it’d have a knock on effect on the others around her — you couldn’t pair Steinfeld with, say, Alex Pettyfer without it coming off as deeply creepy. And, yes, maybe Steinfeld could play older, but it might be kind of weird to see Steinfeld be an “older sister” figure to a girl only two or three years younger than her (Katniss has a little sister Prim and mentors a young girl, Rue, in the arena).

Honorable Mentions: Another youngster, 13-year-old Chloe Moretz, has publicly expressed her interest in playing Katniss, but there’s the same problem of age and mentoring that Steinfeld would face. Nina Dobrev could be another television choice, but she hasn’t shown the range Fonseca has, and her time commitment to the ever-popular “The Vampire Diaries” is pretty serious. Imogen Poots has gotten popular with the studios, but she’s probably too fragile to take the role, and her schedule’s filling up pretty fast as it is. Lucy Hale of “Pretty Little Liars” is a little too conventionally beautiful perhaps, and hasn’t shown the same acting prowess as some of her counterparts. Camilla Belle could also do it, but she’s pretty busy and hasn’t demonstrated much range yet. Both Felicity Jones and Elizabeth Olsen just broke out of Sundance as ones to watch, so maybe the studios will want to capitalize on that success.

Either way, as of last month, there is no frontrunner , and it’s important to remember that the studio could well end up going for far less well-known names than any of the above. The announcement should be here soon, as ‘Hunger Games’ looks to start production in early spring. Here are a few more guesses as to who could play supporting characters; we’d love to hear who you’d want to see cast as well.

More Characters
Peeta Mellark — Peeta is the blonde-haired, blue-eyed companion to Katniss in the arena, so there are a few popular choices already out there for the male lead. The previously mentioned Alex Pettyfer first springs to mind, with his star set to rise next year with both “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly” coming out. However, he’s apparently being courted aggressively for Screen Gems‘ similar “Mortal Instruments” series, and probably couldn’t do both. It might be better to go with someone like Josh Hutcherson, who proved he could act in “The Kids are All Right,”, and just missed out on “Spider-Man,” or Hunter Parrish, who has long been a staple on the hit show “Weeds.” They could also use someone fairly unknown, like Lucas Till, who looks to break out of the Disney mold in the next few years with a role in “X-Men: First Class” as Havoc. Not a blonde, but Paul Wesley, another ‘Vampire Diaries’ alum, could also be a good pick.

Gale Hawthorne — Gale is Katniss’ other man, her best friend from childhood. He’s tall, dark and handsome, bringing to mind names like Ben Barnes or Gaspard Ulliel of “Hannibal Rising,” although both are certainly too old by now. They could also use any of the “Gossip Girl” guys — Ed Westwick, comes to mind, even though he’s looking at more serious fare. Drew Roy, who has had mostly small roles in films like “Secretariat,” also looks to graduate from Disney TV and onto the big screen. Even Taylor Lautner could play it, but he’s too big a star to accept such a small role (especially in the first book), and one so close to Jacob in ‘Twilight.’

Haymitch Abernathy — As the drunken, middle-aged mentor to Katniss and Peeta, Haymitch could be played by a variety of great actors. Big actors like Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Depp have been thrown out there by fans, but there’s no way the studio would consider such big stars as anything other than a pipe dream. In reality, looking to television is probably a good call: actors like Hugh Laurie, Timothy Olyphant or Bryan Cranston could all be plausible.

Primrose Everdeen — Katniss’s younger sister needs to be the opposite of her — small and fragile with a naive demeanor. Elle Fanning could, and should be the first choice on producers’ minds, but those two younger girls mentioned for Katniss — Moretz and Steinfeld — could also be great as Primrose. Prim’s role is small in the first book, but she gets more time by the third installment “Mockingjay,” so it could be a good move for Fanning as she expands her repertoire, and gets a little older.

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Katniss: Hailee Steinfeld
Peeta: Callan McAuliffe
Gale: An unknown
Prim: Elle Fanning
Rue: An unknown
Glimmer: An unknown
Madge: AnnaSophia Robb
HOWEVER, if Jennifer gets Katniss, here’s who I want to play the other roles. Obviously, the movie will be screwed up.

Peeta: Hunter Parrish
Gale: Drew Roy
Prim: Chloe Moretz or Miranda Cosgrove
Rue: Willow Smith
Glimmer: an unknown
Madge: Dakota Fanning or Bridgit Mendler

Shauna X

You need someone who can totally inhabit the character. Someoone who can really act, has super screen presence, and has awesome combat skills. (just seen Hanna)

Look no further than Saoirse Ronan to play Katniss Everdeen on the big screen..


Katniss: Chole Moretz
Peeta: Winston Douglas
Gale: Max Ehrich
Prim: Elle Fanning
Haymitch: Hugh Laurie
Cinna: Mark Degurski

You have just the right amount of known and unknown to keep it interesting. I think Chole has the look of strong yet girlish. Winston as Peeta. Not sure. Just saw his picture and had the look I pictured Peeta to have. Max just has a “What Me” look about him that I feel would be a perfect look for the part of Gale. Elle….well that just speaks for its self. Watching “House” I think it would be a big mistake NOT to cast Hugh as Haymitch. Mark (besides his amazing green has a normal yet caring look about him.


For Katniss personally I think should be me I have dark brown hair olive skin and brown eyes which can be easily changed I can climb trees sing and can shot a bow and arrow the only problem is 13 but I look about 14 I know I probably don’t have much of a chance but it’s worth a shot

Comment and tell me if I have a chance or not or what’s the problem with me being katniss thanks


I honestly do not want anyone from Twilight to be in this movie.. or any other huge star here. I want this movie to be GOOD, I want the casting directors to hire someone because they are good actors/actresses, not because their name will bring more viewers. I’ll see it regardless of that. I think that Kaya would do a fantastic job as Katniss. “She’s too fragile.” Oh, please, Kaya is so strong & would do a fantastic job portraying a strong, yet kind & sweet girl. She’s an AMAZING actress–seriously people, watch her in Skins, it’s breathtaking. Lucas Til would be a great Peeta; blond, nice body, gorgeous, yet kind & sweet. Drew Roy as Gale.. for no reason really, he’s just hot. Which is not a good reason, lol. Hugh Lorie as Haymitch is PERFECT. & Elle Fanning seems like a good choice for Prim. PLEASE casting people, do not mess this up, the book is too magnificent for any flaws in the movie..


someone on another site mentioned tania raymonde for katniss, and she’s been my pick since then. :)

Gabriela B.

I don’t really like anyone you choose here. 

For Haymitch, I can picture Hugh Laurie or Alan Rickman. 

For Peeta, I always pictured Alex or oh who am I kidding, I can only see him as Peeta. 

As for Katniss, I want someone who isn’t really well know. Someone young. Someone who actually had DARK hair! I would say Emily Browning since she is skinny enough to look like she doesn’t have enough to eat but there’s this fragilness to her. I’ll settle for  Kaya Scodelario.


Kaya Scodelario as Katniss
Hunter Parrish as Peeta
Gaspard Ulliel as Gale
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !








J Ray

Hugh Laurie has GOT to play Haymitch. I didn’t see it at first, and considered Robert Downey JR. but MAN once I saw the connection I realized it was a match made in Heaven!

Annie W.

I saw this on another site and totally agree these two TOTAL UNKNOWNS would be PERFECT as Katniss and Gale:

For Katniss-
Elizabeth Hirsch-Tauber
SHE JUST DID THIS REALLY FUNNY SPOOF FOR CLEVERTV! She is the main TwiHard fan! check it out!

And for Gale-
Max Ehrich-
He was just on an episode of Parenthood


I totally think that Gale should be either Drew Roy or Logan Lerman!

As for Peeta… It can’t be Max Thieriot. NoNoNo! No way! It’s got to be someone who looks like Chord Overstreet or Lucas Till. It can’t be anyone who looks too weak or scrauny.

And Katniss should totally be Kaya Scodelario!

I like it when they pick actors/ actresses who haven’t appeared in much and more importantly who look the right age!!!!! Unlike I am Number Four… grumble grumble…


I think the perfect Peeta would be Chord Overstreet from Glee, just throwing that out there


Max Thieriot as Peeta!! I just came across him today and thought he looked perfect! He looks younger than his age which would be good for doing three movies. As far as Katniss goes, I think you have to cast someone younger than 20. I’m not super stoked about anyone mentioned above. I like Hailee and Chloe the best. I’ve seen both of them recently in interviews and think they could pull off being 16. Can’t wait for this movie!


William Moseley is Peeta! It will be a very bad choice to have Lucas Till play Peeta, he doesn’t deserve it.


Hailee Steinfeld as Katniss!!!! I think she would be perfect!! justsayin..

Will S

@ Alex P and @ annasaurus If its anything like books the movie should be great. But i really don’t want one of the main characters to be ‘That guy out of Twilight, or that girl out of Harry Potter. They should be The one from the Hunger Games.’ Plus i do hate Twilight with a burning passion… in summary – Actors/Actress’ should not be from other movies, I hate twilight and Robert PAttinson looks like a foot :)


Jodelle Ferland as Katniss; Chad Duell as Peeta; Ben Barnes as Gale and this movie would be nothing without Robert Downey jr. as Haymitch!


@annasaurus: i agree with you! don’t listen to these moronic haters. most of them probably never read the books or seen the movies, they are just jumping on the “twilight” hating band wagon. the “twilight” kids are laughing all the way to the bank.

that aside, i love “the hunger games” trilogy but a successful book does not necessarily mean a successful film. the casting is crucial. so the actresses that are not between 15 & 18 should not even be considered.


I’d love to see Ashley Newbrough as Katniss and Hailee Steinfeld as Primrose!! Now that would be kickass!!


Hugh Laurie for Haymitch, from what I’ve seen, is the frontrunner for a lot of fans. And Kristin Chenoweth for Effie (whom you didn’t mention here), but so many of the fans seem to have such drastically different ideas on the rest of casting.

Personally, I love the idea of Malese Jow for Katniss (she played Anna in an arc on The Vampire Diaries last year), but I don’t know how realistic it is that a studio would trust her to carry a film. She’s in the right age group, but if the studio does make a commitment to all three films, she, like a lot of the popular choices might be too old as well. And she can sing. Which is something a lot of the articles speculating on casting aren’t mentioning. Katniss is supposed to have a beautiful singing voice, but I don’t know if that will come into play in the film.

I also, surprisingly, picture someone more a la Liam Hemsworth as Peeta, which is definitely not the popular choice amongst fans, though he has, supposedly, read a draft of the script. I don’t know if he could pull off that role though. I like your idea for Lucas Till in the roll. He’s had a lot of training recently for action films, and I think he could bring enough sweetness to the character that he would be most like Peeta in the novels.

I have almost no opinion on Gale, though Drew Roy would be an interesting choice. (It seems odd to me now that all of my younger male options have played the love interest of Miley Cyrus at some point.)

Age seems to be a large contributing factor though. A lot of my own visions for actors that would be able to take on the younger roles convincingly are in their 20s, so I have a feeling some of the older roles are going to go to bigger name stars, while the younger roles are going to wind up going to unknowns.


Oh and another thing:
Also in the part about Lyndsy Fonseca when it says, “it’s entirely possible that the characters could be aged up a little, to tone down the tumult of underage murder otherwise heading to the screens”

What the F***!!!!!!

“To tone down the tumult of underage murder”?

That’s the entire freaking point of the thing!!! How cruel and unjust the Games are! If you put in an older actor to “tone down the tumult of underage murder heading to the screens” you will ruin the movie!

Not to mention you can’t be chosen for the Games once your are over 18, lol

But this is just my opinion. No offense to anyone.


Kaya Scodelario would be my “Most Awesome and First Choice” for Katniss. She looks great, looks like Katniss, and can act! (at least to me)
But if Cloe Moretz plays Katniss:grrrrr. Nothing against her, but i CANNOT see her in this role. And the fact that she ASKED to play the role rather than be mentioned by fans bugs me. I hope she doesn’t.
But I’m sooooo glad not to see Kristen Stewart up here. A few other sites and people wanted her for Katniss. My opinion: HECK-to-the-NO! Nothing against her. But no. Just. No.

For Peeta i think it should be:Alex Pettyfer or Lucas Till or Alexander Ludwig. Ludwig is 1, Lucas 2, Pettyfer 3

Gale: The guy in the picture! Drew Roy, I think? He would be awesome in the role. He looks the part, and (in what I’ve seen him in), he can act. The only problem is that he may not be able to act the part given on how Gale is in the books.

For Haymitch: I see Hugh Laurie first, then Robert Downey Jr. Both are great, but Downey Jr. strikes me as more fun than serious. But I’m sure both would be great as Haymitch, they would just need to be able to do the emotional part as well as the comedic/serious


Amy Beaudine



lucas till looks way more sweet than Alex, plus lucas has personality — not weak, not edgy. really good choice for Peeta.


@annasaurus: That’s because the so-called ‘actors’ from Tw*l*ght sucked. Epically.

@ everybody else: I think i would actually prefer a less well-known actress (coughKAYASCODELARIO!cough). Someone older could more likely have a ‘been there, done that’ attitude that would totally ruin the film, especially Rue’s death. Most of the actresses being reccomended for the role are either to old, or they’re like Jodelle Ferland, Miranda Cosgrove or That Bubble-Headed Chick At The Beginning Of This Article Whose Name I am Too Lazy To Discover: pretty, happy, generally floofy girls who would not do justice to the role. And half of them are blond!

I want a REAL Katniss, somebody with some grit, who can drop a Tracker Jacker nest on the Careers and shoot Marvel in the throat and run around dodging fireballs and hunting rabbits and squirrels, and still make me cry with the song she sings to Rue as she dies.

And while I’m at it, I also want the world to be filled with magical rainbow-colored unicorn ponies who fly. :)


That’s because the actors from Tw*l*ght sucked butt.

@everybody else: I would actually prefer someone a little less well-known (coughKayaScodelario!cough). Some one older and more experienced could have more of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude, which would totally ruin the film, especially Rue’s death scene. Jodelle Ferland, Miranda Cosgrove, That Bubble-Headed Chick That Was First In This Article Whose Name I Am Too Lazy to Find Out, they all look to… nice. Happy. Pretty.
I want a REAL Katniss, somebody with some grit, who can drop a nest of Tracker Jackers and shoot Marvel in the throat and run around dodging fireballs and shootin rabbits and squirrels, and still make me cry sincerely with the song she sings at Rue’s death.

And I also want the world to be filled with magical rainbow-colored unicorn ponies that can fly :)


Wasn’t this already done?? Anyone see Battle Royale or ready the mangas?? Really… it’s been done.


All interesting choices, I’d like to see Hailee take it. Also, maybe you should take a look at other films beside Twilight for Kristen Stewart, she wasn’t always that girl. Hell, The Runaways was a pretty decent movie.


I read the books and really enjoyed them. They’re really violent, and I was surprised at that (at first).

Reading the books I had no actress in mind for Katniss, but after seeing all the media for “True Grit” Hailee is such a great choice. And considering Rue is like 12, it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch. Just don’t get Willow Smith to play Rue.

Katie Walsh

I think they should do all unknowns (a la Hailee Steinfeld’s casting for True Grit) for the 3 main characters. It seems kind of a risk to hinge such a huge film on unknowns but with all the baggage and expectations of the books’ fans I think anyone already slightly known will suffer some backlash. Though whoever gets cast will suffer backlash anyway.

At any rate, no matter who gets cast as Katniss will have to make a serious physical transformation as the character is so tough and gritty. I think Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly looks the part and could embrace it as a breakout role (also tween audience there.) Jessica Lowdnes from 90210 has the right look too but I cannot speak to her acting ability at all. I think Alex Pettyfer is too old for Peeta, but Finnick? I really cannot think of anyone for Gale or Peeta but no way Jose to Ed Westwick. Too smarmy.

Alex P

“It looks like you just took every name ever thrown out by fancasting and threw it into an article.”

translation: I would like this article more if it featured someone from “Twilight.”


It looks like you just took every name ever thrown out by fancasting and threw it into an article.

I don’t know why this site always has such a negative slant towards actors who have appeared in Twilight. You guys don’t seem to have such a bias against any other actors. Even when you’re doing casting announcements like Cosmopolis, you have to throw a dig at them.

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