After numerous rumors, reports, false starts, psychic consultations, and everything else under the sun, Jena Malone is officially joining the cast of the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. For real this time.
At least we’re reasonably sure. This report from THR seems solid that the Donnie Darko actress has accepted the offer she received earlier this summer. Malone will play Johanna Mason, a former Hunger Games victor from District 7, called back into action for the Quarter Quell, an all-star rendition of the to-the-death event. She’s manipulative, standoffish, and generally mean and unpleasant. She does take off all of her clothes at one point to make Katniss uncomfortable, so there’s that. Her outward hostility masks the fragile, damaged psyche that lurks underneath.
Malone joins the returning cast members that include stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, as well as Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, and Elizabeth Banks. Philip Seymour Hoffman has also signed on to join the sequel as Plutarch Heavensbee, the head game maker of the Hunger Games.
In Catching Fire, Johanna forms an uneasy alliance with Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Melark (Hutcherson) in the Hunger Games arena. She also turns up in the third chapter of Suzanne Collins’ young adult trilogy, Mockingjay, in a smaller, but thematically important role.
Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) takes over the directing duties from Gary Ross. A lot of people will be curious to see if Lawrence maintains the verite style shakey cam that Ross used, or if he’ll go another direction.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is scheduled to hit theaters November 22nd, 2013.