- Rachel Zegler explains how her Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes character Lucy Gray and Katniss Everdeen have similarities that enhance the viewing experience of the Hunger Games franchise.
- Lucy Gray’s performance in the arena and ability to get the audience on her side mirrors Katniss’ dynamic as a tribute.
- The song “The Hanging Tree” connects Lucy Gray and Katniss, with its origins in the prequel adding a new layer to President Snow’s hatred of Katniss and the rebellion in District 12.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes star Rachel Zegler explains how the similarities between her character Lucy Gray and Katniss Everdeen enhance the original movies. The new prequel is set in the early years of the Hunger Games, diving straight into the 10th annual reaping. The story revolves around President Coriolanus Snow, though in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes he is an 18-year-old played by Tom Blyth. Zegler is Lucy Gray Baird, District 12’s tribute and the series’ new female lead.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Zegler explains the parallels between her character and The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence), revealing how both tributes reflect each other, and how their similarities enhance the viewing experience for the whole franchise. While the characters are quite different overall, Zegler included elements of Katniss in her performance through common themes that offer a deeper meaning to the original movies. Check out Zegler’s full explanation below:
“As actors, watching Jennifer’s performance in the original trilogy is watching a masterclass in performance in general. When it came to the approach of Lucy Gray, I kind of felt like I didn’t have to [study her]. I came to what Tom [Blyth] was saying, it kind of puts an unnecessary pressure because it’s a different character and a different time of Panem. And I feel like Lucy Gray is a war-torn teenager who’s had everything she knows ripped from her yet she’s still making the best of it. And so it was very similar to Katniss in that perspective, but she’s a very different dynamic in response to being placed in an arena in front of a bunch of people and having to make the world root for her. She’s very good at that.
“She’s very persuasive in her performance and very good at getting an audience on her side. So it was very fun to play that. But I do think that there’s elements of Katniss within her and that makes it all the more fun to go back and watch the original trilogy and kind of see how Snow remains haunted by Lucy Gray even in his later life because there are echoes of her within Katniss Everdeen.”
Lucy Gray’s “Hanging Tree” Emphasizes The Two Different Hunger Games
Though the two Hunger Games characters are quite different, there is something beyond their relationships with Snow that connects them. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes features Lucy Gray singing “The Hanging Tree”, the same song Katniss sings in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One. The prequel’s origins for the song adds a whole new layer to Snow’s hatred of Katniss. In the movie, Lucy Gray is revealed as the original writer of “The Hanging Tree”. She pens it for the residents of District 12, and 64 years later, her song lives on as Katniss shares it with her rebellion.
Lucy Gray’s “The Hanging Tree” sounds very different to Katniss’. The song has changed quite a bit over the years, with the lyrics reflecting the characters’ respective conflicts. When Lucy Gray first sings it, the song is emotional, calling on a lover with longing. Her version stems from something she truly witnessed and is perhaps fueled by her romantic relationship with Coriolanus, but when it’s reprised by Katniss decades later, it is haunting, focusing on the oppression District 12 has often suffered under.
With this new lore behind “The Hanging Tree,” the song is made even more rebellious as Katniss sings Snow’s former lover’s words back to him. Katniss and Lucy Gray’s many similarities are emphasized by Zegler’s performance and the shared song, adding new elements to spot while rewatching the earlier movies. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes adds valuable new lore to the Hunger Games series as Snow’s hatred and District 12’s role in the rebellion is given even more meaning.