The search for the two male leads in Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Hunger Games has come to an end. Emerging as the winners in a crowded pack of young actors that tested for the film are the likes of Josh Hutcherson in the role of Peeta Mellark – and Thor actor Chris Hemsworth’s younger brother, Liam, for the part of Gale Hawthorne.

Hutcherson and Hemsworth will join Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, which is based off the first chapter in Suzanne Collin’s popular young adult series – and the possible successor to Twilight‘s box office throne.

Here’s an official plot synopsis from Lionsgate’s press release:

“The Hunger Games” chronicles a dystopic Capitol which requires its twelve subjugated districts to pay tribute in the form of a teenage boy and girl, forced to participate in the annual “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death live televised event. Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen in the lottery to participate and Katniss (Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. Although persevering through hardship is commonplace for Katniss, she must start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home.

As you can tell from that description, Katniss is no Bella Swan and The Hunger Games novels are much darker and more allegorical tale than Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books. They’ve also become worldwide best-sellers, which has made the lead roles in the film adaptation coveted, to put it mildly.

Peeta, as Hunger Games fans know, is the “male tribute” chosen from District 12 – which Katniss hails from – and has long carried a torch for Miss Everdeen. I thought Hutcherson did a nice job of portraying troubled teen boys in previously-released titles like Bridge to Terabithia and The Kids Are All Right – and clearly I wasn’t the only one, since he was at one point a serious candidate to star in The Amazing Spider-Man as well. So he seems a fine choice to appear opposite Lawrence as Katniss.

Gale has a much more platonic relationship with Katniss in Hunger Games – so there’s not really a love triangle between him, Katniss, and Peeta – but the two are very much emotionally attached to one another. Hemsworth’s most significant role to date was in The Last Song as eye candy/a love interest for Miley Cyrus (tomAEto, tomAHto ;-)) but he at least has the appropriate look of a strapping young man down. So take that for what it’s worth.

The Hunger Games arrives in theaters on March 23rd, 2012. Does the cast look good to you so far?

Source: Lionsgate