Several young actresses are reported to have campaigned for the role of Johanna Mason in the hotly-anticipated Hunger Games: Catching Fire (no pun). Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) was an early rumored contender; more recent reports pegged Jena Malone (Sucker Punch) and model/actress Zoe Aggeliki as the current front-runners.
A report from earlier this week suggested that Malone is close to securing the aforementioned Hunger Games sequel role. Today, however, we have word that Aggeliki is the one in "most serious talks" to play Johanna.
Deadline has the scoop on Aggeliki possibly being a new addition to the Hunger Games ensemble; for those not familiar, the site describes Johanna Mason as "an [axe-wielding], deceptive and ruthless winner of a previous Hunger Games." Furthermore, the character appears in both Catching Fire and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games book finale, Mockingjay (which is expected to be split into two movies). It's essentially a great supporting role for a young actress looking to make a name for herself.
Aggeliki fits that bill perfectly. The model has a role in the upcoming second Percy Jackson movie, and will appear in next year's comic book movie R.I.P.D. Of course, landing the role of Johanna in the Hunger Games series would ensure that Aggeliki continues to have work for the next couple of years.
Catching Fire reunites the well-regarded cast of its predecessor, which includes stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland. Hence, most fans are keeping an eye on the new personnel: director Francis Lawrence (a replacement for Gary Ross); screenwriters Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), taking over writing duties from Ross, Collins, and Billy Ray - and possible acting additions, such as Aggeliki and Philip Seymour Hoffman (among others).
The decision to hire Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend) for Catching Fire has prompted a mixed reaction overall. It makes sense from a business perspective, as Lawrence is capable of delivering a competent final product (minus the artistic flourishes that Ross brought to Hunger Games) within the time constraints set by Lionsgate. The problem, of course, is that fans want reason to hope Catching Fire can be something fantastic - and not just "competent."
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is set to begin production this September, in order to make a November 22nd, 2013 U.S. theatrical release date. We'll continue to keep you updated on the project in the meantime.