The Hunger Games Prequel Has Added A Suicide Squad Star In A Big Role

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller in The Suicide Squad
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It’s been seven years since the main Hunger Games saga that focused on Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen concluded with Mockingjay — Part 2, but next year will mark our cinematic return to Panem. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is winding the clock back over six decades to explore the origins of Coriolanus Snow, with Billy the Kid’s Tom Blyth playing the younger version of the character Donald Sutherland played in the original Hunger Games movies. Blyth leads a massive cast that now includes Suicide Squad star Viola Davis in a big role.

Viola Davis will appear in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul. In other words, Gaul is the one who designs, plans and controls what happens in the arena during the 10th Hunger Games. In the official announcement of Davis coming aboard, Nathan Kahane, president, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said that the actress’ “formidable and powerful” presence in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes “will add layers of complexity and menace to this story,” and director Francis Lawrence, who previously helmed Catching Fire and both parts of Mockingjay, had this to say about Davis’ character:

Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games’ most commanding figure.

Volumnia Gaul carries out the same duties that Wes Bentley’s Seneca Crane did in the first Hunger Games movie, followed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire. Going off the above description, clearly Gaul is one of the more ruthless Head Gamemakers in Hunger Games history, although to hold such a position, there needs to be a certain degree of cold-bloodedness. The announcement of Viola Davis’ involvement in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes comes a month after it was revealed that Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage is playing Casca Highbottom, co-creator of the Hunger Games and dean of the Academy, the most prestigious school in Panem’s Capitol.

Viola Davis can now add The Hunger Games as major franchise cred for her resume alongside the DC Extended Universe, where she plays Amanda Waller, director of Task Force X, a.k.a. the Suicide Squad. Davis debuted as Waller in 2016’s Suicide Squad and reprised the role in 2021’s The Suicide Squad, as well as cameoed in the first and last episodes of Peacemaker Season 1. Davis’ Waller is returning in Black Adam later this year, and there’s also an Amanda Waller series in development for HBO Max. The actress’ other notable credits from recent years include Fences, Widows and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Other notable characters appearing in The Hungers Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes include Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, the District 12 tribute Coriolanus Snow mentors; Jason Schwartzman as Lucky Flickerman, the 10th Hunger Games’ TV host and ancestor to Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman; and Hunter Schaefer as Tigris Snow, Coriolanus’ cousin and confidante who was played by Eugenie Bondurant in Mockingjay — Part 2. The original Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes novel by Suzanne Collins was published in 2020, and the film project began filming in June. 

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes opens in theaters on November 17, 2023, and don’t forget to browse through our 2023 release schedule to see what others movies are slated for next year. As far as this year goes, Viola Davis will next be seen leading The Woman King, which comes out on September 16. 

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.