Viola Davis to star as ‘fearsome’ and ‘formidable’ villain in ‘Hunger Games’ prequel

The acclaimed actress joins the franchise for a film set to debut in November 2023.

Viola Davis is heading to Panem. That’s right, the Academy Award-winning actress has officially been cast in the upcoming “Hunger Games” prequel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

Davis joins the massive franchise as the film’s head villain, Dr. Volumnia Gaul, per an exclusive report from The Hollywood Reporter. In the prequel film, Gaul is the head gamemaker for the 10th Annual Hunger Games and will appear alongside a young Coriolanus Snow (played by Tom Blyth), who fans may remember as the main villain, played by Donald Sutherland, in the original “Hunger Games” movies. Hunter Schafer (“Euphoria”), Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”), Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”) and more also are in the star-studded cast.

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Viola Davis will play the head villain, Dr. Volumnia Gaul, in the “Hunger Games” prequel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images for Paramount )

The prequel will see the return of Francis Lawrence, who directed the final three “Hunger Games” films. In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Lawrence calls the character “as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable.” He added that Davis “has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role. A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become. We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role.”

Davis herself shared the casting announcement on her Instagram account in a dual post with the official “Hunger Games” account. Sharing a simple headshot of the actress, the post also contains the release date for the film, which is currently slated for November 2023.

Kering "Women In Motion" Talks Photocall - 75th Cannes Film Festival 2022
Viola Davis was the dream choice to play Dr. Gaul, director Francis Lawrence said. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)

This announcement joins a series of exciting ventures for the actress this year, including her bestselling memoir, upcoming film “The Woman King” and more. Her memoir, “Finding Me,” which debuted as a New York Times bestseller, also had an accompanying Netflix special, which saw the established actress in an intimate sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey.

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