Elizabeth Banks is joining the cast of Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Hunger Games alongside Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) is directing.
Variety reports the affable blonde is in talks to play Effie Trinket, the escort assigned to groom the teenage “tributes” from District 12, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson), for the televised last-person-standing bloodsport. Billy Ray’s script describes her as being “bright and bubbly” (Banks is perfect) and wearing a pink wig.
Lionsgate has also been rolling out the names of the relatively unknown actors playing the various other tributes this week. Yesterday came the announcement of District 11′s Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) and Rue (Amandla Stenberg).
Today, the official Facebook page unveiled District 1 competitors Glimmer (TV actress Leven Rambin) and Marvel (Jack Quaid, son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan). The children from D1, a region that focuses on producing diamond-encrusted luxury items for the oppressive Capitol (hence the names Glimmer and Marvel), are unkindly referred to as “Careers” because they are supposedly, illegally trained to compete in the Games.
Liam Hemsworth is also set to play Katniss’ best friend, Gale Hawthorne. Still left to cast are Haymitch Abernathy (District 12′s drunken mentor), the sinister master of ceremonies Seneca Crane, and eighteen more tributes from Districts 2 through 10.
Studio executives are hoping and hyping this as the next young adult franchise to hit on the big screen, following the massive success of Twilight and Harry Potter — though Suzanne Collins’ dystopian future is nothing like those vampire and wizarding worlds. Lionsgate has already staked out March 23, 2012 (a cushy spot it holds to itself, for now) as its opening date and you can bet we’ll hear plenty more about this project before then.