While two more newcomers have signed on to play “tributes” in The Hunger Games, the bigger news is that Gary Ross’ adaptation has filled one of the more pivotal adult roles: that of Haymitch Abernathy, a former winner of the titular gladiatorial competition. In the present, Abernathy is an alcoholic who spends his days training others to participate in the Hunger Games – aware that he is essentially sending them to their deaths.
John C. Reilly was previously rumored as a top contender to play Haymitch in the film, but an official offer was never made. Harrelson, as it were, was previously rumored to be in contention for the part of Gamesmaker Seneca Crane – a role that ultimately went to Wes Bentley instead.
Once again, it’s no surprise that either newcomers or stars with stunt experience are being cast as “tributes” in the Hunger Games movie, giving the physically-rigorous nature of the roles – and the fact that their characters meet a terrible fate in the film (hence why there are no name actors or actresses tackling those parts).
With regards to the casting of Haymitch Abernathy: While Reilly is an excellent and overall pretty versatile character actor, Harrelson arguably seems like the better fit to play the one-time warrior – based on both his more intimidating physical appearance and his tried-and-true wild man with a heart of gold screen persona (see Zombieland for an obvious example of that).
Here are the adult roles filled in The Hunger Games so far (for a list of the other District “tributes” cast up to now, go HERE):
- Katniss and Prim’s mother (Paula Malcomson)
- Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks)
- Gamesmaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley)
- Hunger Games host Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci)
- Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson)
While a lot of Hunger Games book fans probably have mixed feelings about the casting in the movie as a whole up to now, there’s no denying that Ross and his filmmaking crew have assembled an admirable crew of character actors (and actresses) for the adult roles – and some solid talent to play the pivotal “kid” parts as well. The Hunger Games is pretty much a surefire blockbuster hit in the making, so it’s nice to see that care is being taken with how Suzanne Collins’ popular story is translated on the big screen.
The Hunger Games hits theaters on March 23rd, 2012.