With the big three roles in The Hunger Games – Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) – having already been filled, the search is now on to find young actors and actresses to portray the additional “tributes” to the 74th annual incarnation of the titular competition in Gary Ross’ film adaptation.

Two of said supporting roles in Hunger Games have now been filled: those of District 11 residents Rue and Thresh, as will be portrayed by relative newcomers Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi.

EW has confirmed that these two will join Lawrence, Hutcherson, and Hemsworth for Hunger Games, which is based on the first novel in the best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The plot unfolds in a dystopian future where the country Panem (formerly, North America) is run by a brutal government force known as the Capitol – a body that asserts it power over the people by holding the Hunger Games event on a yearly basis.

Both the muscular-and-powerful Thresh and quick-and-agile Rue becomes allies of Katniss at different points during the Hunger Games. The gladiatorial-style event pits two adolescents from each district of Panem (District 1, 2, etc.) against one another, until only one person is left standing. Needless to say, not every character introduced in the first Hunger Games story makes it out alive.

Collins crafted fairly specific descriptions of each character in the original Hunger Games novel and Lawrence’s lack of resemblance to Katniss prompted enough of an outcry from fans that the author felt the need to publicly voice her approval of the casting decision. The casting of Stenberg and Okeniyi, however, should help to ease the concerns of fans who are worried the film adaptation will merely fill out its cast with caucasian stars – and ignore the diverse nature of the characters in Collins’ source material.

Hunger Games is being designed with a PG-13 Rating in mind, which won’t necessarily have a negative impact on the quality of the film. The story definitely has its share of graphic and harshly violent material – it is about underage people being forced to hunt down and kill one another, after all – but that subject matter can certainly be handled in a tasteful but effective manner that doesn’t weaken the purpose or meaning behind Collins’ creation.

Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) has proven himself to be a capable filmmaker so far, and he seems a good fit to handle the difficult nature of Hunger Games. The movie certainly reads as promising on paper, and it would be a refreshing change of pace for those of us who immediately think Twilight when we hear the phrase “film adaptation of a popular young adult novel.”

The Hunger Games is scheduled to arrive in theaters on March 23rd, 2012.

Source: EW