The actress stars as District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird in the upcoming "Hunger Games" prequel "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes"
Director Francis Lawrence returns to direct the prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes after directing Catching Fire (2013) and the two Mockingjay films (2014 and 2015).
The upcoming movie takes place 64 years before the previous films as Zegler's Lucy Gray Baird is selected as a tribute from District 12 and assigned a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) as her mentor for the 10th annual Games. (President Snow was portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the previous films.)
Francis teased to Empire magazine that the new protagonist is an "anti-Katniss" in several ways.
"Katniss was an introvert and a survivor. She was quite quiet and stoic, you could almost say [she was] asexual. Lucy Gray is the opposite," the director explained. "She wears her sexuality on her sleeve, [and] she really is a performer."
He added of Lucy Gray, "She loves crowds. She knows how to play crowds and manipulate people."
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Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is based on the 2020 novel by Suzanne Collins. Producer Nina Jacobson previously told Variety that Lucy Gray is "such a different character from Katniss."
"She’s such a performer. Katniss is the opposite. This is a woman who loves and lives to perform," said Jacobson. "To see the connection there, the history that she represents, and to think that Katniss Everdeen grew up knowing about Lucy Gray and this moment, it was just a great kind of microcosm of both how much of a new ground it is and how rooted it is in what we’ve seen, but in this backward-looking way."
Zegler, 22, who is known for movie musicals like West Side Story and the upcoming Snow White, has singing moments in the new Hunger Games entry.
"One of the least Katniss things ever is to get up there and sing a song," Jacobson said. "It’s a far cry from ‘I volunteer as tribute’ to ‘I’m gonna get up there, grab the mic and sing a song.' "
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is in theaters Nov. 17.
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