The three Hunger Games films directed by Francis Lawrence represent highlights of his career. He spent the 1990s and 2000s in the music video world, directing some of the industry’s biggest stars (including Alanis Morissette, the Black Eyed Peas, Lauryn Hill, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga), then moved on to launched into cinema. with some adaptations, including Constantine (based on a comic strip) and I’m a legend with Will Smith (based on a novel by Richard Matheson). Lawrence is, in short, a master of adaptation. And after Gary Ross, who directed the first hunger games movie, moved away from the franchise, Lawrence became the director called upon by Lionsgate to complete the transformation of Suzanne Collins’ books into blockbusters.
Lawrence went from understudy to master of the saga, directing the remaining three films in the original series. He is now in charge of a planned series of three prequels. For now, we can only say “planned”, as upcoming films will depend on the reception of this weekend’s release, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The film chronicles the origin of Coriolanus Snow, the President of Panem, a dictator who, in the original four films, was played by Donald Sutherland. In the new film, set 64 years earlier, Snow is a boy (played by Tom Blyth). While in the previous films with Jennifer Lawrence, Snow is the villain, in the prequel he has not yet come to power. He is a sincere, honest and idealistic young man. At the end of The ballad of songbirds and serpents, Also based on a novel by Collins, it still hasn’t taken a turn towards the dark side, leaving room for other films charting its evolution.
Ahead of the new film’s release, we were able to chat with Lawrence about his views on the franchise and his approach to it. This new film invents a past for Panem and introduces new characters: Viola Davis plays a villain, Dr. Volumnia Gaul, in a role similar to Sutherland’s Snow, and Peter Dinklage plays Dean Casca Highbottom, a more ambiguous and interesting character. Finally, as the title suggests, this is not just the story of one character but of two: young Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a girl with an indomitable spirit from the District 12 (later to become Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer). Lawrence in the original series) who participates in the Hunger Games.
WIRED: One of the most interesting aspects of The Hunger Games, the novels and then the film series, was having a female protagonist in a position usually occupied by male protagonists. That is, directing a sci-fi action story about what happens to girls. In the new film, the protagonist is a man. Does this change your perspective on the world of The Hunger Games?
François Laurent: This time, the story is much more about human nature. Deep down, are we savages or are we fundamentally good? This is the theme of young Coriolanus Snow’s story, and it’s perfect for telling the story of the world of Panem. Then add to that the fact that I love villain origin stories – people who seem good, who you can sympathize with, but then become villains.
What do you think are the best villain origin stories? Those you would like to surpass with this film.