In most cases, the idea of replacing Donald Sutherland in a beloved role would be tantamount to felony, but in the case of the upcoming The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the casting change is forgivable. The new film will be a prequel, set decades before the feared President Coriolanus Snow would rule over Panem. While we’ve known about the prequel for a couple of years, we’ve only found out this week that it will be Tom Blyth taking up the role of the young Coriolanus.
On Monday, THR and others reported that it would not be Donald Sutherland, but Tom Blyth playing The Hunger Games‘ tyrannical villain. Blyth is the first actor to board Lionsgate’s prequel. He is perhaps best known as the eponymous gunslinger on Epix’s Billy the Kid. He also made memorable appearances in HBO’s The Gilded Age, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, and starred in last year’s acclaimed biopic Benediction about British poet Siegfried Sassoon. You can see a photo of Blyth below.
Donald Sutherland portrayed President Snow in all four The Hunger Games films starting with the first one that released in 2012. Based on the young adult book series by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian North America. The story takes place in the nation of Panem, which Sutherland’s character rules mercilessly. The series is named after the annual lethal battle royale in which children from 12 of the impoverished districts serving the wealthy Capital are selected to battle to the death.
The upcoming The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will be based on the 2020 prequel novel by Collins, which was released the month following the announcement that it would be adapted to the big screen. Last August there was word the prequel film would be in production by this year, with either late 2023 or early 2024 as a target for theatrical release. According to Lionsgate’s official description of the film, the story will take place over 60 years before the character originally played by Donald Sutherland ascends to the presidency. Things change for the young Snow when he’s tapped to mentor Lucy Gray Baird — District 12’s “tribute” for the Hunger Games.
Donald Sutherland may not be getting any younger, but taking a gander at his schedule might make you think different. By the end of the year, the 86-year-old Emmy winner will have starred in the disaster blockbuster Moonfall, the Roku Channel series Swimming with the Sharks, and the upcoming Netflix horror thriller Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. Netflix hasn’t yet announced an official release date for Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, but it’s expected to stream some time this year. The film is an adaptation of one the stories published in Stephen King’s 2020 collection If It Bleeds. Sutherland will be joined by the young Jaeden Martell, and it won’t be the first King adaptation for either of them. Martell appeared in the most recent adaptations of It, while Sutherland played Richard Straker in TNT’s 2004 Salem’s Lot mini-series.