Three of the most coveted roles in Hollywood have now been filled, as the upcoming adaptation of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games has found its three leads: Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, X-Men: First Class) as heroine Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) as Peeta Mallark, and Liam Hemsworth (Miley Cyrus' ex-bf) as Gale Hawthorne. Though Lawrence's casting was announced a few weeks ago, the male parts still had several actors vying for them as recently as last week. Here's a quick rundown of the characters as provided by the press release from Lionsgate, in case you need a refresher:
Peeta accompanies heroine Katniss Everdeen into the 74th annual Hunger Games as the male tribute chosen from their native District 12, the most remote and marginalized district of all the subjugated districts of Panem. At the outset of the Games, Peeta publicly confesses his longtime feelings for Katniss, setting up one of the most fascinating fictional rapports of all time with his supposed arena rival.
Though Katniss and Gale have never had a romantic relationship, they share a transcendent bond, often of few words. When Katniss volunteers to participate in the 74th Annual Hunger Games in her younger sister’s stead, they both presume that bond will carry her far through the horrors she will face in the arena, and they each silently hope they’ll be reunited in safety on the other side of the ordeal.
As a fervent fan of the series, I'm… conflicted on some of this. On the one hand, I think Lawrence and Hutcherson are both very capable actors, and anyone who's seen Winter's Bone knows that Lawrence can pull off tough, tenacious teenagers. And I think all of the actors look generally age-appropriate for their roles, even if I would have erred a bit younger were I in charge. So that's all good stuff.
On the other, and I'm sure I'm going to open a big can of angry, flame-happy worms here: I think an opportunity was missed to have a more diverse cast in this movie. No character is given an explicit race or ethnicity in the series; Collins only provides some physical description of hair color and skin tone. Peeta, for instance, is described as fair and blond, while Katness and Gale are both dark with olive skin-tones, which is certainly ambiguous. And considering the books are meant to take place in a far-future North America — a place that is getting more and more multi-ethnic every day — it would have been both logical and exciting to see some actors of color get the chance to inhabit the roles. But it is what it is, I guess. Now let's hope the three chosen ones really bring it.