Josh Andrés Rivera (“West Side Story”) is set to play the role of Sejanus Plinth in the “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” for director Francis Lawrence and producers Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson, TheWrap has exclusively learned.
Sejanus Plinth is a close friend of young Coriolanus Snow and the mentor to a tribute from District 2. Tom Blyth is playing the role of Coriolanus Snow. Rivera also joins his fellow “West Side Story” alum Rachel Zegler, who is set to play Lucy Gray Baird in the film.
The prequel film in the franchise, which has grossed over $3 billion globally, is based on the best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins and is slated to hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.
Francis Lawrence returns to the series, having directed the sequels “Catching Fire” and both parts of “Mockingjay.”
Collins, Tim Palen, and Jim Miller will serve as executive producers on the new project. The latest draft of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is being written by Michael Lesslie, who worked with Justin Kurzel on “Macbeth” and “Assassin’s Creed,” based on the work of writers Collins and Michael Arndt (who also co-wrote earlier “Hunger Games” film “Catching Fire”).
Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are overseeing on behalf of Lionsgate.
The film’s official synopsis is as follows: “Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.”
The last film in the original “Hunger Games” series, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, debuted on November 20, 2015, and made more than $658 million worldwide. Sounds like the odds of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” being another massive hit are forever in their favor.
Rivera recently starred as Chino in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated adaption of “West Side Story,” opposite Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler and Ariana Debose. He will next appear in Susanna Fogel’s highly anticipated adaptation of “Cat Person,” based on Kristen Roupenian’s buzzy short story published in The New Yorker, where he’ll share the screen with Nicholas Braun, Emilia Jones and Geraldine Viswanathan.
Rivera was a series lead in the HBO Max pilot “Vegas High,” directed by Gillian Robespierre and produced by Michael Showalter. A seasoned stage actor as well, Josh notably performed in the original company on the first national tour of the smash hit Tony-winning musical “Hamilton.”
Rivera is represented by Paradigm, Silver Lining Entertainment and Jackoway Austen Tyerman et al.