One of my favorite reads of 2009 was Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. The novel follows Katniss Everdeen, a strong willed 16-year old girl, who is forced to take part in a nationally televised fight-to-the-death survival competition against 23 other teenagers in the post-apocalyptic fictional nation of Panem. From page 1, The Hunger Games is the quintessential page turner. It transports you into another world and keeps you there, long after you’ve completed the book.
Collins does not discriminate, and there is something here for all ages, sexes, and book preferences: a bunch of knock-down drag-out, surprisingly gory, fights for the action buffs, a romantic triangle for the lovers, political intrigue for the Tom Clancy and David Baldacci inclined, a futuristic otherworld for the fantasy and sci fi geeks, adolescent angst for the teens, dry humor for the comedy lovers, and tons of thinly veiled pop culture references and digs at reality television for entertainment addicts.
The Hunger Games is actually the first novel of a trilogy series. Its also-excellent sequel, Catching Fire, is already a bestseller. The third book of the series, Mockingjay is due out August 24, 2010. However, the novel is already available for pre-order on Amazon. (Only $8.50 for a hardcover! Way cheap!)
When I learned that Lionsgate Entertainment had purchased the film rights to The Hunger Games, and the Suzanne Collins, herself, was hired to write the script, I was excited and highly intrigued. This book has surefire blockbuster written all over it! The news got me to thinking about who they were going to cast for the major roles in this film — and, more importantly, who I would cast if I were making this film . . .
So, without further adieu, here are my casting pics for Lionsgate Entertainment’s adaptation of The Hunger Games:
My pick: Ellen Page
Why? Although technically a bit older than Katniss (aren’t they all?), Page has the physical look of the character, as well as Katniss’ tough exterior and inner vulnerability. She also brings to the table a recognizable name that will inevitably bring big box office bucks to the film. Page definitely has the acting chops for this complex and meaty role. Plus, if the X Men films, Whip It, and the ultra-dark indie film Hard Candy are any indication, she also possesses the strength and deft to pull off some fairly hardcore stunts, which may be necessary, given the action aspects of this novel.
My pick: Sterling Knight
Why? Like Page, Knight definitely looks the part here. As the attractive and inherently likeable boy-next-door type, who may or may not be completely trust worthy, the actor who plays Peeta must appear both sweet and a tad sly. I think Knight has what it takes to be both. Best known for his role as Chad Dylan Cooper in Disney Channel’s tween sitcom Sonny with a Chance, Knight has already shown himself capable of playing the male lead in a love/hate type relationship. I think he and Ellen Page would play off one another well, with respect to the romance aspects of this tale.
As far as action scenes, I’m not sure whether Knight has what it takes, as I’ve never seen him act in any particularly physical roles. Then again, Peeta always struck me as kind of a wimp (sorry girls). So, athleticism may not be entirely necessary here . . .
My pick: Taylor Lautner
Why? This one may be a bit of a stretch, seeing as Lautner is such a big name in Hollywood now, and Gale’s role in The Hunger Games is a relatively small one. (Gale plays a much bigger part in The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, however). And yet, I can’t help but think Lautner was made for this role! Dark complextion, killer abs, physical prowess, the ability to brood and pine over unrequited love, all the while being all-manly / hunting stuff . . . who could ask for a better Gale than Lautner? Plus, we all know how much Taylor loves his love triangles . . .
My pick: James Gandolfini
Why? Yeah, I know, this is also a bit of wishful thinking on my part . . . But I LOVE my Gandolfini! Plus, I think he would be awesome as this gruff and hard-drinking, yet wise and loyal, former Games winner and mentor to Katniss and Peeta. And, it’s my cast, dammit! So, I’ll hire who I want!
My pick: Kristin Chenoweth
Why? Chenoweth has the sophisticated look, chirpy ebullience, and high-pitched (at-times grating) speaking voice to pull off District 12’s well-meaning, but slightly haughty, PR representative, Effie Trinket. I’ll cast her in this role on one condition . . . she MUST sing at least once during the film!
My pick: Adam Lambert
Why? Lambert has the guy-liner, fashion sense, natural flamboyance, and addiction to hair dye necessary to pull off Katniss’ personal stylist for the Games. Granted, I’m not really sure Lambert has any acting experience (unless you count those daytime talk show interviews). However, Cinna never struck me as a particularly complex role. So, I think Adam could pull it off. Plus, those American Idol fans would go wild!
My pick? Elle Fanning (Dakota’s little sister)
Why? Honestly, I don’t have much to say here. The role calls for a fair-haired and cherubic pre-teen to play Katniss’ little sister. I am pretty sure there is actually a law in Hollywood that states that whenever a role like this is created, a Fanning must be cast in it. So, here we are . . .
My pick: Toni Collette
Why? The role calls for someone who is believable as the slightly unstable and depressive herbalist mother of both dark-haired tomboy, Katniss, and girly blonde, Primrose. I think Collette fits in quite nicely here . . .
Well, there you have it. Now, it’s your turn. Hop on to that casting couch (no pun intended), and pick your favorites. Who knows? Lionsgate Entertainment just might be listening . . .