In the continued quest to make the new Hunger Games prequel a worthy successor to the original series, The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes has added Peter Dinklage to the cast in a major role, according to a Deadline report. Dinklage joins a list of previously announced stars which includes Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler as the leads.
Dinklage will play the dean of the Academy, Casca Highbottom. With a name like that, he sounds like he should be teaching at Hogwarts, but instead he’s the original architect of the Hunger Games, who has a tense relationship with future president Coriolanus Snow (Blyth).
“Dean Highbottom is one of the most powerful people in Snow’s life. As the austere and vindictive face of the games, he sets the rules that will determine every aspect of Coriolanus’s fate. I’m thrilled that Peter will be bringing him to life,” says longtime Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence (per Deadline).
Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane praises Dinklage as “one of the best actors alive,” while franchise producer Nina Jacobson adds, “I cannot think of an actor more perfectly suited to inhabit the role of Highbottom. As the man credited with conceiving the Hunger Games and the Dean of the Academy, Casca Highbottom is a character with secrets. Peter’s magnetism, intensity and dark humor will infuse him with the intelligence, depth and pathos that the role demands.”
Many of the players in Songbirds And Snakes are similar, or have direct ties to, characters from the original series. In Suzanne Collins’ novel, Highbottom is an addict who struggles with his role in the games, not unlike Katniss’ mentor Haymitch Abernathy (played by Woody Harrelson). More closely connected are Hunter Schafer’s character Tigris (an older version of whom appears in Mockingjay) and Jason Schwartzman’s character Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman (an ancestor of Stanley Tucci’s character Caesar Flickerman).
One would expect a degree of overlap in a prequel, but Lionsgate is surely also hoping to cash in on the familiar formula that made the originals a hit. Of course, adding Dinklage to the cast is a smart way to boost the film’s chances of success.