Hunter Schafer and Josh Andrés Rivera on The Hunger Games Prequel
Nov 20, 2023
Expect social media to explode this weekend with the release of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Die-hard fans have been eagerly awaiting The Hunger Games prequel film, wondering what stars Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler will bring to their roles of young Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird, respectively. But there’s plenty of online chatter about Hunter Schafer’s character, Tigris Snow, and Josh Andrés Rivera’s Sejanus Plinth in the action-adventure film, as both characters play pivotal roles in the film.
Fans are also interested in Rivera’s real-life relationship with costar and girlfriend Rachel Zegler. The two starred in West Side Story, after all, and Variety recently reported that Rivera passed love notes to Zegler on the set of Hunger Games. In a recent moderated press conference, Schafer and Rivera joined Blyth and Zegler to discuss their roles, onset banter, and much more. Dive into excerpts from their interview.
Hunter Schafer on Tigris Snow
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1), and written by Michael Lesslie and Michael Arndt, takes place 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute. In this film, Hunter Schafer lights up the screen as Tigris. The attire. That face. The whole look is stunning. Her character is Coriolanus’s cousin, in fact, and was played by Eugenie Bondurant in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1.
Schafer said she read the Hunger Games books in middle school and became “deeply obsessed” with the story and, in particular, the costumes after experiencing the first film. “I made my own Capitol person costume for Halloween one year. I was drawing my own graphic novels of the books. It was a real deep obsession for a while, so it feels really full circle to be here now doing this.”
The Euphoria standout added:
“I do feel like if I were to play anybody in this book, it was supposed to be her. I feel aligned with how she moves throughout the world and uses fashion as an armor. I also just admire her values towards family — family first — and operating on the fact that she’ll do anything for them. That’s something that I want to stay aligned with throughout my life.”
Related: Every Movie in The Hunger Games Franchise, Ranked by Box Office Gross
As for if she referenced the earlier films to be informed about the character, Schafer said she distinctly remembered the character in the books and found the character so striking in the Mockingjay movie. “But clearly, there’s a pretty big jump from this movie to that Tigris. I’m thankful for that because it allowed us to create our own take on this Tigris on a visual level and [in terms of] character. It allowed many layers of stuff she’s accumulated by the time we meet her in Mockingjay to fall away [in this film]. And [for me] to bring a bit of myself into this Tigris.”
Josh Andrés Rivera’s Big Leap
It’s a bold undertaking to take on any prequel; the stakes are so high. This film takes place decades before Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem that we know and hate. The all-star cast includes Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Jason Schwartzman (Asteroid City), and Viola Davis (Fences, The Woman King).
Hunger Games fandom also tells us that the character of Sejanus Plinth has a storied past and, in this outing, was chosen as a mentor of the Games and assigned a male tribute from District 2. “Something I really like about him, and what definitely drew me in when we started filming was the amount of friction he has with so many of the characters,” Josh Andrés Rivera said of the character. “As far as portraying [somebody], that just tends to be the funnier thing to do — having a lot of people disagree with you and trying to convince everyone you’re right.”
Was he a big fan of the books and films? “I read the first book when I was younger, and I got really into the movies. I’m a pretty big fan. I did a quiz of it last week, and I did really bad though. So, I guess that puts me at a seven or an eight [on a scale of 10] because I guess I didn’t retain a crazy amount from the original, but I really liked them.”
Related: Explained: The History of Panem from The Hunger Games
One scene stands out during the production. During the Reaping Day sequence, Sejanus Plinth was supposed to give young Coriolanus Snow some cookies because he was hungry, and his family wasn’t doing well. Every time Rivera handed costar Tom Blyth a packet of cookies, Blyth noticed the packet felt light. “I’d be like, okay, great. I’m supposed to eat them in the scene, and I go to open it, and there’s no cookies left because Josh has been eating them on set,” Blyth shared with journalists. “We must’ve done 12 takes.”
“They were really good,” Rivera chimed in. “They were peanut butter.” As for what his strategy would be if he were to actually compete in the Hunger Games, the actor added, “I would probably try to make friends with the strong boys. You know, and just see how far I can coast under their shoulders before they backstab me eventually. But you know, we’ll worry about that when we get there.”
Catch The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, from Lionsgate Films, in theaters November 17.
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