Given that the first film managed to land heavyweights like Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones and Donald Sutherland, not to mention Oscar-nominated lead Jennifer Lawrence, it’s always been clear that “The Hunger Games” franchise wasn’t going to have much trouble attracting serious talent. But the enormous success of the first film earlier this year (as well as, crucially, the mostly positive reviews) means that they’ve been able to step up their game for the sequel, “Catching Fire.” Philip Seymour Hoffman has been the biggest name addition, as new gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee, but with the film going before cameras, Lionsgate and director Francis Lawrence have found some time to add another acclaimed actor to the cast.
A press release from the company announces that Jeffrey Wright, one of the best actors of his generation, has joined the cast as Beetee, also known as ‘Volts’ for his knowledge of electronics, a former Hunger Games victor drawn back into service after Katniss’ victory in the first film. Wright (who wins a role previously linked to Tony Shalhoub) broke out on stage and won acclaim for performances like “Basquiat,” “Angels In America” and “Syriana,” but isn’t a total stranger to the more commercial side of things, with roles in “Shaft,” “Casino Royale” and “Source Code” among those on his resume. He’ll next be seen in Allen Hughes‘ “Broken City” with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe.
It’s another exciting addition to a cast that’s somehow managed to improve on the first film; returning actors like Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Harrelson, Tucci and Sutherland are joined by Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Amanda Plummer and Lynn Cohen. We’re not 100% sure that Francis Lawrence is the right man for the job, but given that Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire“) and Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3“) have both worked on the script, we’ve certainly got faith that this could match, if not exceed, the original. Filming gets underway very soon, and the film hits theaters on November 22nd, 2013.