'Hunger Games' begins to fill out its cast
Lionsgate, the studio turning Suzanne Collins' uber-popular franchise "The Hunger Games" into a movie series, is going straight to the fans with its casting choices for the film, announcing their selections on the official Facebook fan page. The studio has revealed the casting of four new faces, and sources say actress Elizabeth Banks (left) is in negotiations to play Effie Trinket, the high-strung escort to protagonist Katniss Everdeen, to be portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"). The role of Peeta Mellark will be played by Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids Are All Right"), and Liam Hemsworth ("The Last Song") has also recently signed on to play Katniss' longtime friend and hunting partner, Gale Hawthorne.
For those not familiar with the tween, post-apocalyptic series, the first book centers on a world divided into 12 districts. Each year, two teenagers are chosen from each district to compete in "The Hunger Games," a televised fight to the death. The teenagers are deemed "tributes" and adorned with all kinds of prizes and honor prior to walking into an elaborate arena where they are forced to kill or be killed.
Thus far, Lionsgate has announced that Jack Quaid and Leven Rambin will play the two tributes Marvel and Glimmer from the wealthy District 1. Quaid, making his big-screen debut, is the son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, while Rambin has been a regular on daytime soap "All My Children" for the past six years. The impoverished District 11's choices have also been made, with another film rookie, Dayo Okeniyi, playing Thresh and young Amandla Stenberg playing Rue, a diminutive tribute and ally of Katniss Everdeen.
And while Lionsgate isn't announcing Banks as Effie, sources confirm that the actress is in negotiations for the part. Filming of "The Hunger Games" is expected to begin in the next few months with the film's release date scheduled for next March.
Photo: Elizabeth Banks. Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images