Casting The Hunger Games

Earlier this year, Chris Evans entered and won the “Who gets to be Captain America?” contest. Earlier this summer, Andrew Garfield entered and won the “Who gets to be Spider-Man?” contest. Sometime soon, an actress — probably an unknown; maybe Natalie Portman; definitely not Carey Mulligan —will win the “Who gets to be Lisbeth Salander?” contest. And then what? Will we be asked to go weeks without a young Hollywood talent competition to obsess upon? Would the moviemaking gods be so cruel? Please. The next win-a-franchise battle — this one called the “Who gets to be Katniss Everdeen?” contest — is scheduled to begin on August 24, with the release of Mockingjay, the third installment in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, a series of adult-loved YA books that will be adapted into movies, and that you will only be hearing more about.

Set in a dystopian future, the series stars Katniss Everdeen, a stoic, badass teenager, who, like Twilight’s Bella, is caught in a love triangle — Team Gale! Team Peeta! — but, unlike Bella, does not need vampires to kill things for her, being perfectly capable of killing things herself. In the series’ first book — insanely readable, and as is, essentially a perfect screenplay — Katniss is forced to play in the titular Hunger Games, a reality show to the death, while inadvertently fomenting a revolution. Whoever lands the part of Katniss will get to use a bow and arrow, fight for her survival, have sexy-time with handsome teenagers, wear fire, and, you know, have a movie franchise. We handicap the likely contenders.

Saoirse Ronan
The blonde, coltish, Ronan — the star of Atonement and The Lovely Bones — is the right age, 16, and, with some dirt on her face, would look the part. She’d have to suppress some of her natural fragility.
Odds: 4 to 1

A Fanning Sister
Dakota is 16 and has the chops for the part, but she’s involved with Twilight and is almost too recognizable. Little sister Elle, on the verge of getting her showcase in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, is a little young, but could grow into it. Alternately, the two could play sisters in the films, with Elle playing Katniss’s beloved little sister, Prim.
Odds: 6 to 1

Chloe Moretz
Moretz, about to star as the vampire in Let Me In, demonstrated she’s very likable when killing people as Hit Girl in Kick Ass. Only 13, she’s a little young to play the 16-year-old Katniss, though she could grow into the role.
Odds: 9 to 1

Taylor Momsen
Well, she has the attitude. But would she be believable in a world with limited eye makeup?
Odds: 25 to 1

An Unknown
Because why not?
Odds: 1 to 10

Casting The Hunger Games