The Hunger Games franchise attracted a slew of huge names over the years, thanks to its popularity and apt messages about rebellion toward corrupt governments, which continue to resonate all over the world today. One major name that played a key figure in the last two installments covering the Mockingjay book was Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie. The Brienne of Tarth actress played Commander Lyme, but as you may remember, she was a last minute replacement for another actress.
American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe was initially tapped to play Commander Lyme in Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2, until scheduling conflicts led her to drop out of the role. Over five years later, Rabe cleared up exactly what went down behind the scenes. In her words to Collider:
I think there was some stuff out there at the time that was not accurate. I was actually so simple, what happened. I was doing Much Ado About Nothing in the park with Hamish [Linklater] and I think we’d been planning it for however long and talking about it for probably a few years. Then it was happening, it was set and when I was cast in the Hunger Games, the dates worked with Much Ado. I think I was going to shoot it before we started rehearsal. And for reasons I no longer remember that had absolutely nothing to do with me, but just to do with production, the dates pushed on Hunger Games and they pushed a few times.
As the actress who recently had a role in HBO’s The Undoing explained, she was originally set to shoot The Hunger Games and then play a major role in Shakespeare in the Park with her husband, Hamish Linklater. But due to some production shifts, Hunger Games began directing conflicted with Much Ado About Nothing. By that time, she had been rehearsing for weeks with her cast, and the movie’s shooting schedule would have come in the way of all the work she’d put into showing up for a performance. Basically, it was bad timing, but she would have loved to have taken both parts if she could. As she continued:
It wasn’t even really a battle, it was just ‘oh, this no longer works and I made this commitment to do Much Ado’ and the Hunger Games side were all completely aware of it. They so understood my choice and they were so supportive. So there was really no drama, the only sad thing is that I couldn’t do both.
According to Rabe, she’d read some things in the news over the years that bogged down her decision because she chose to star in a play as opposed to taking a major franchise role. But it sounds like she was just following through on a commitment she’d already put a lot of time into and could not sign herself for both when the production schedule of Hunger Games shifted down. Rabe would have been a great Commander Lyme if given the chance, but Gwendoline Christie certainly fit the role well.
I’d say Lily Rabe made the right decision too, especially considering Commander Lyme really was not given a ton to do in Mockingjay Part 1 and 2. She was a commander of the rebellion against the Capitol in the third act of the series but, by that time, there were a lot of moving parts. Many of the important characters from Mockingjay didn’t get their full arcs as a result of the writers seeing Katniss’ story to the end thoroughly. Hey, maybe Lily Rabe can nab a role in the upcoming film based on The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes, the Hunger Games prequel focusing on President Snow as a teenager.