Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth Added to Hunger Games Cast

Lionsgate and the filmmakers of The Hunger Games have announced that Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) has been cast in the role of Peeta Mellark, with Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) joining the film in the role of Gale Hawthorne in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel. Both actors will star opposite Jennifer Lawrence, who it was recently announced will play heroine Katniss Everdeen.

Peeta accompanies heroine Katniss Everdeen into the 74th annual Hunger Games as the male tribute chosen from their native District 12, the most remote and marginalized district of all the subjugated districts of Panem. At the outset of the Games, Peeta publicly confesses his longtime feelings for Katniss, setting up one of the most fascinating fictional rapports of all time with his supposed arena rival.

Though Katniss and Gale have never had a romantic relationship, they share a transcendent bond, often of few words. When Katniss volunteers to participate in the 74th Annual Hunger Games in her younger sister’s stead, they both presume that bond will carry her far through the horrors she will face in the arena, and they each silently hope they’ll be reunited in safety on the other side of the ordeal.

The Hunger Games will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of science fiction/action novels which have developed a global following.

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

In The Hunger Games trilogy, the continent of North America is in ruins. In its place is the nation of Palem, a Capitol consisting of twelve districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death televised for all of Panem. Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) volunteers to take her little sister’s place when she is selected in the lottery to participate in the Hunger Games. Already struggling to provide for her mother and sis, Katniss must persevere if she in her survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home.

A lot of the Hunger Games purists have taken offense to the casting of Jennifer Lawrence, feeling she is too old for the role of Katniss. Having never read the trilogy by Suzanne Collins, for now I have to give director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) benefit of the doubt. The additions of Hutcherson and Hemsworth solidify a very talented young cast and could very well be a Twilight-size franchise for Lionsgate.

The Hunger Games is slated for release on March 23, 2012.

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