Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth on the World of ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’

On behalf of The Nerds of Color, I attended the press conference for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes with stars Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Hunter Schafer, and Josh Andrés Rivera! The film takes place 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, and decades before Coriolanus Snow became the President of Panem.

THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES follows a young Coriolanus who is the last hope for his failing lineage, the once-proud Snow family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With his livelihood threatened, Snow is reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from the impoverished District 12. But after Lucy Gray’s charm captivates the audience of Panem, Snow sees an opportunity to shift their fates. With everything he has worked for hanging in the balance, Snow unites with Lucy Gray to turn the odds in their favor. Battling his instincts for both good and evil, Snow sets out on a race against time to survive and reveal if he will ultimately become a songbird or a snake.

Photo Credit: Murray Close

I asked the actors what they considered to be the coolest prop, set, or outfit that was brought to life visually for the movie and got some incredible answers:

“I was definitely curious to see what Trish Summerville was gonna do with the rainbow dress because really, the only description it gets in the book is that there are pink, blue, and yellow ruffles, and that’s it. I was really, really wondering how she was gonna bring it to life and it was even better than I could’ve possibly imagined, and I think it really speaks for itself,” Zegler, who portrays Lucy Gray Baird, shared. “But then, also with the rest of her costumes, because the rest of her outfits really don’t get described too much in the book, I think Trish just took that, the ‘Covey love color’ line, and ran with it in such a beautiful direction. So, I really think it was probably that. Then, also in postproduction, seeing what the rainbow snakes in Dr. Gaul’s lab looked like. that was really cool for me, as a book fan.”

Photo Credit: Murray Close

Blyth, who plays Coriolanus Snow, added, “The Hob as a location, for me was just next-level art direction. It was so well done. And actually, what I love about reading a book and then seeing a film adaptation is that sometimes it totally meets your expectation and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s exactly,’ it’s cathartic, ’cause it’s exactly what you had in your mind. Then sometimes, your expectation is challenged and you see something that you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not what I thought at all. It’s even better, it’s even cooler,’ and that happens with casting, but it also happens with art direction. The Hob, for me, was a moment where I went, ‘Oh, I could never have imagined this in my wildest dreams.’ Like, I thought it was just a marketplace with a little shack where the music is played when I read it. But actually, Uli Hanisch, art director, production designer, he set it, and I guess this is a great location scouting moment as well, where they set it in this kind of old, disused steel mine in Duisburg, Germany. It was down in the depths of this mine and then they put the marketplace in there, and the stage in there, so it kind of echoed and had all this cool paraphernalia that some of which, you recognize from the first films, and some of it’s new. But that was a cool moment for me.”

You can experience the story in theaters and IMAX on November 17.

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