It’s official….casting director Debra Zane has been hired to choose who’s going to star in The Hunger Games movie.
The latest news has been confirmed on Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy
In summing up Zane’s strengths, the studio also laid out the challenge the casting director faces with “Hunger Games.” That is, casting “the people you imagined [as the characters] but not the ones you expected,” says Alli Shearmur, president of motion picture production for Lionsgate.
Zane is a Hollywood veteran whose resume includes “Twilight: Breaking Dawn,” the coming two-part finale to the vampire juggernaut. Having worked with “Hunger Games” director Gary Ross previously on films such as “Seabiscuit” and “Pleasantville,” she was widely expected to get the job.
For “Hunger Games,” Zane’s task is to people a post-apocalyptic America where an authoritarian government runs a contest that’s part reality TV, part gladiatorial death match. The twist: the contestants picked by lottery are children. The most closely watched role is that of 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen, a gray-eyed archer who volunteers for the bloodsport to spare her sister.
The filmmakers, including Ross and producer Nina Jacobson, have said they’re open to casting actors who are unknown (a relative term) in the lead roles. Shearmur says, “The movie-star elements of the franchise are the books and the characters Suzanne Collins created.” But don’t expect Zane to conduct an “American Idol” style cattle call. Instead, she’ll likely use professional channels to cast a wide net. The stated goal: creating a level playing field for candidates ranging from, say, a promising young theater actor to an emerging screen star, such as 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, whose “Hunger Games” stock has shot up since she anchored the hit “True Grit.”
Shearmur emphasizes that no actors have auditioned yet, but fans and bloggers have been speculating on the casting process for months. And many have launched online campaigns on behalf of the actors they think embody the characters as they imagine them. For instance, the site Reelz Channel recently launched a poll encompassing not just the handful of lead roles, but also a dozen other characters in the book.
“There is this fan ardor and frankly good ideas that you don’t want to discount. We’re definitely paying attention to it,” Shearmur says.