'The Hunger Games': Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth complete the love triangle
"The Hunger Games" has nabbed its boys. Lionsgate announced today that "The Kids Are All Right" star Josh Hutcherson (left) will play opposite Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss as fellow competitor Peeta Mellark while teen heartthrob Liam Hemsworth ("The Last Song") will take the role of childhood friend/love interest Gale Hawthorne.
The announcement completes the much-anticipated trio that will play the three leads in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' bestselling series "The Hunger Games."
Since the film, to be directed by Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit"), has received a slew of comparisons to the "Twilight" franchise, the big question is whether or not these relative unknowns are on the same path to mega-stardom that engulfed Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson and Taylor Lautner when "Twilight" debuted.
Hutcherson, 18, has essentially grown up in the movies, getting his first role in "American Splendor" at age 10, and so may be able to handle some of the pressure, since he has gradually seen his star power increase and has been aggressively seeking these higher-profile roles. Hutcherson was one of the lead contenders for the new "Spider-Man" and for a period of time was rumored to be the lead choice until Sony surprised everyone with its selection of Andrew Garfield. Also, prior to "The Kids Are All Right," Hutcherson costarred in "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," a film Universal had hoped would turn into "Twilight" for boys. Unfortunately, the movie from director Paul Weitz wasn't well received and grossed just $34 million worldwide. Hutcherson's third false start seems to be the still-to-be released remake of "Red Dawn," which is still not dated due to MGM's financial troubles and the need to rejigger the film's villains from Chinese to North Korean.
In contrast, Hemsworth (left) has a much shorter résumé. The 21-year old Australian has appeared in three movies, most recently opposite Miley Cyrus in the romance "The Last Song." Hemsworth was also frequently in the mix for many of the high-profile superhero films that were cast in the last year.
Nabbing a film with the rabid following of "The Hunger Games" audience will put both these guys on the stardom track. And if the series proves to be anything like "Twilight," both Hutcherson and Hemsworth will become the objects of many teen girls' admirations -- whether they are ready for it or not.
Photo credits: Josh Hutcherson by Tyler Shields; Liam Hemsworth by Frerick M. Brown / Getty Images