Almost five years after the final installment of the Hunger Games, the franchise still has a quiet influence on Hollywood we often don’t stop and think about. Aside from the YA series catapulting the career of one miss Jennifer Lawrence (or J-Law, as we know her), the big-budget films were also pivotal career turning points for a number of its supporting actors. One strong point of Hunger Games was its consistently great casting with names such as Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the mix with its lesser known talents.
Now let’s take a look at the Hunger Games supporting cast who have found great success in the world of movies and television since playing citizens of the dystopian nation of Panem:
One unforgettable element of the first Hunger Games was Katniss’ alliance with young Rue from District 11, who later becomes a victim of Panem’s violent annual entertainment event. Amandla Stenberg portrayed the memorable character when she was 14 years old and it was her second movie credit. Ever since her small role in the YA franchise, Stenberg has quickly become one of the most sought after young talents, starring in her own romance film Everything, Everything in 2017 with Love, Victor’s Nick Robinson, the YA drama inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement The Hate U Give and most recently in Damien Chazelle directed Netflix series, The Eddy. She was also up to play Shuri in Black Panther, but she decided to pass on it due to being bi-racial when she felt the role called for a dark skin actress.
Okay, so Jack Quaid is already the son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan – Hollywood glory has been pulsing in his veins since birth. He grew up on movie sets and amongst movie star parents, but his first acting credit ever was in The Hunger Games as a vile District 1 tribute named Marvel. His role was even smaller than Rue’s in the first franchise flick, but over the years he has established himself as an intriguing talent to watch. You undoubtedly know him from Amazon Prime’s The Boys, a gritty take on the superhero genre that quickly became one of the most talked about new series of last year and is soon returning for Season 2. Quaid was also part of HBO’s Vinyl, the rom-com Plus One and he’ll voice a role in CBS’ upcoming animated Star Trek series Lower Decks.
In the second film Catching Fire, Sam Claflin brought a fan favorite to life by portraying Finnick Odair on the big screen. Unlike the previous two young stars, the actor came to the Hunger Games franchise at a time when he was also joining other big films including Pirates of the Caribbean for 2011’s Stranger Tides and in 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. But I’d guess to this day when someone spots Sam Claflin in another project most would name Finnick as their reference point before anyone else. A lot of this has to do with Finnick’s position as a sex symbol in the franchise, but the actor has certainly kept himself busy since Hunger Games in the romance films Love, Rosie, Me Before You, Adrift and Love Wedding Repeat. The actor is gearing up for the release of Enola Holmes where he’ll play Mycroft Holmes to Henry Cavill’s Sherlock and Millie Bobby Brown’s Enola.
It’s just about impossible to forget Wes Bentley’s face after following the Hunger Games franchise due to Seneca Crane’s bold choice of beard style. The actor has benefitted from the added exposure after starring in the franchise. Wes Bentley had been around well before the role came about, namely with a part in 1999’s American Beauty, but the needle really moved for him in the past few years. Shortly after Hunger Games, he got to work with Christopher Nolan for Interstellar, Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, American Horror Story and a leading role in Yellowstone.
Not unlike Wes Bentley, Jeffrey Wright had a name for himself before he was cast in Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The actor was consistently underutilized and given supporting roles. Since he took on the role of Beetee for the most celebrated film of the YA franchise, he has quickly become one of the biggest and most exciting names in Hollywood. Soon after wrapping on the series, he jumped into Westworld. His upcoming lineup is certainly an indication of how massive Wright has become. The 54-year-old will be in Wes Anderson’s French Dispatch, the next Bond film No Time To Die, Commissioner Gordon in The Batman and The Watcher in the Marvel series What If.
The final two installments of Hunger Games which broke apart Suzanne Collins' final novel introduced a slew of exciting new characters to the cast including Elden Henson’s Pollux, a documentarian who follows Katniss throughout the final act. The performance certainly wasn’t enough to showcase the actor’s full-on talent considering the character doesn’t have a tongue, but it led into Elden Henson taking his most high-profile role yet as Foggy Nelson in Daredevil, which expanded into Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Defenders. Sadly, Netflix’s plans for their own Marvel universe have since been cancelled, but Henson’s Foggy is iconic!
It’s fairly easy to forget that Mahershala Ali was part of the Hunger Games considering all the successes he has found since, including two Oscar wins in the past three years for Moonlight and Green Book. Before he played Katniss’ sweet mentor Boggs (who really did not get enough screen time), Ali may have been known by a niche audience for his role in Syfy’s The 4400. He was finding success on TV, but Mockingjay marked a shift into his movie star status. He recently returned to the medium for True Detective and Ramy, but coming up he’s going to star in Blade for the MCU.
Which of these Hunger Games-born stars have been your favorite to follow? Vote in our poll below and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more Hunger Games coverage. The prequel is on the horizon!
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YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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