Entertainment Weekly has confirmed that Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) will direct the Lionsgate adaptation of The Hunger Games, the first instalment of author Suzanne Collins’ post-apocalyptic young adult science fiction trilogy.
In the book, every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the participants, or "tributes", must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. The story follows fatherless 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers for the 74th Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also participating is Peeta Mellark, a boy whom Katniss knows from school and who once saved Katniss's life...
Ross revealed that he hadn’t as yet met with any actresses for the hotly contested lead role of 16 year old Katniss Everdeen but would begin those conversations shortly.
“I’ve talked to Suzanne extensively and I feel like I understand the character really, really well,” he said. “I feel like I know who that girl needs to be.”
Ross dispelled the notion that there are already leading contenders for the role. “I’ve read in the press that there are frontrunners but that’s not the case.”
And Ross hasn't ruled out the possibility of casting an unknown:
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “We’ll cast the right person for the part. Lionsgate has been great in the respect that they don’t feel that this needs a movie star in Katniss’ role. The greatest thing about the franchise and the books being the star is that we can cast whoever we want. So we all feel like we’re just going to cast the right person.”
And casting won't come down to current popularity with Hollywood or beauty says Ross:
“I don’t think that’s the main criterion for Katniss. What makes Katniss attractive is her strength and her assuredness and her defiance and ultimately her compassion. And I don’t mean just physical strength. I mean a real strength as a human being. She knows her own truth. She feels deeply and fiercely. And this is something that the actress has to bring with her.”
Hopefully this means that American starlet Chloe Moretz, who has had a monopoly on roles of young girls who kill people over the last year, isn't a shoe-in for the role, particularly as she is a little too young for the role, and the director will look further afield - even at some British hot favourites such as Kaya Scodelario.
But whilst the attention will be on the casting of the lead role of Katniss there are lots of roles for teen and child actors to fill, including Prim and Peeta.
The film is likely to go into production in the late spring of 2011.
Who would you like to see as Katniss? Screenterrier has a few favourites....