Amazingly, Viola Davis’ Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes Casting Was Inspired By Viral Fan Art, And I Totally Get It


Getting Oscar winner Viola Davis to join the Hunger Games prequel was a major coup for the franchise. Some fans might be surprised by her casting, but Davis joining The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes wouldn’t have happened if not for one thing. The movie’s director opened up about Davis’s Hunger Games casting being inspired by viral fan art.

Prequel director Francis Lawrence revealed to EW how a viral poster featuring the Oscar winner influenced the casting decision. Lawrence mentioned the moment he saw the viral fan art he knew Davis would be the perfect person to play The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ main adversary Dr. Volumnia Gaul. The Hollywood director opened up about the impression the fan-made poster had on him, saying:

It was a piece of fan art, and somebody had photoshopped, I think, an image of her standing by a window. It may be a still from The Help, but she had this sort of sinister little smile and they had made mocked up a fake horror poster as if she was the villain in this.

That’s why fan art is important in the casting process. While naysayers may frown upon the fan casting, it does work from time to time as with Viola Davis joining the Hunger Games prequel. Fortunately, Hollywood bigwigs are scouring the internet and taking fans’ suggestions to heart. Lawrence is tuned in to what viewers are doing and saying online. Davis’s casting wouldn’t have happened without Lawrence stumbling upon the viral fan poster.

The I Am Legend director couldn’t hold back his astonishment after seeing the villainous fan art online. Lawrence opened up about the poster sparking him to contact Davis to play the singular-minded head game maker, stating:

I was like, ‘Wow, you know what? She may be good for this. She has this gravitas, but she could be playful and quirky and get all of that. It’d be very different for her. I don’t think we’ve seen her do this kind of thing a lot.

It appeared Lawrence and Lionsgate made the right decision in casting The The Woman King star as the Hunger Games prequel’s main antagonist from the monumental trailers. Davis just inhabited Dr. Gaul’s singular mission to groom a young Coriolanus Snow to become President of Panem. However, Francis Lawrence wasn’t the first one to notice the fan-made poster. Viola Davis noticed the viral art first. She even went as far as to repost the image on her Instagram account. Seeing how The Help’s Aibileen Clark would be the perfect villain in the post below.

I loved how Davis leaned into the menacing image by asking for commenters to suggest possible horror plots for the 1960s housemaid. Thankfully, other Hollywood figures noticed the poster, too. Now the Emmy winner gets to tap into her villain era for the newest Hunger Games installment after years of stellar performances as either upright citizens or complicated and messy characters.

Looking at the viral fan art I totally get why Lawrence cast Davis as The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes villain. This over-the-top adversary seemed like a gearshift for the Oscar winner after playing the more stoic and manipulative Amanda Waller in DCU. Turning an innocent smile into a devious grin can change the viewers’ perspective on a character. That says a lot about the artist’s ability to change the endearing Aibileen into a possible serial killer. Adding the bloody handprints and smears were necessary touches to make the image even more sinister.

Hunger Games fans won’t have to wait much longer to see Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul as The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will arrive in theaters on November 17. In the meantime, check out the Hunger Games franchise by buying or renting the films through an Amazon Prime Video subscription. Look over our 2023 movie schedule to see what other prequels are heading to movie cinemas this year.

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