The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes Casts Viola Davis As Its Villain

Viola Davis is about to be dripping in Capitol fashion, y'all. Lionsgate's upcoming "The Hunger Games" prequel film "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" has cast Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the head gamemaker of the 10th annual Hunger Games. Davis joins an already stacked cast of Tom Blyth as young Coriolanus Snow, Rachel Zegler as District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird, Josh Andrés Rivera as District 2 mentor Sejanus Plinth, Peter Dinklage as unintentional Hunger Games creator Casca Highbottom, and Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow. "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" takes place over 60 years prior to the events of "The Hunger Games," when the eventual tyrannical President of Panem was just a teenager, trying to restore his tarnished family name following the events of The First Rebellion.

"'The Hunger Games' films have always been elevated by their exceptional casting, and we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul," Lionsgate motion picture group president Nathan Kahane said in the official announcement. "Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story." The film is being directed by Francis Lawrence who helmed three of the four original "Hunger Games" films, in addition to franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her partner Brad Simpson. Tim Palen will executive produce alongside "The Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins. Meredith Wieck and Scott O'Brien are overseeing the project on behalf of Lionsgate.

Who is Dr. Volumnia Gaul?

Director Francis Lawrence said in the same announcement, "Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable." He describes the character as being a contributing factor to Coriolanus Snow's eventual rise as a political figure, having been molded by working underneath one of the most commanding figures in Panem's history. "From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role," said producer Nina Jacobson. "A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become."

"The Hunger Games" series is filled with despicable villains, but Dr. Volumnia Gaul is easily one of the most treacherous. She served as the Head Gamemaker of the 10th annual Hunger Games as well as an instructor at both the University and occasionally at the Academy. Throughout her career, she evolved into becoming the mastermind of the Capitol's experimental weapons division, leading the charge on the creation of the horrific "muttations" (the hybrid creatures used as weaponry in The Hunger Games) in an underground lab.

"The Hunger Games" books are known for their wordplay (like Peeta being the son of bakers, get it, LIKE PITA BREAD?!) but Coriolanus and Volumnia are two of Collins' most interesting choices. For the uninitiated, both names are rooted in the Shakespeare play "Coriolanus," in which his mother, Volumnia, is the one who prevents him from destroying Rome ...a complete juxtaposition to her role in "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes."