After cryptically tweeting yesterday, “listen up….. can y’all grow restfully? are you becoming an individual resting decisively?” with the first letter of every word revealing L U C Y G R A Y B A I R D, Deadline has officially confirmed that West Side Story actress Rachel Zegler will be portraying Lucy Gray Baird in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes. Francis Lawrence is back in the director’s chair, helming the prequel to The Hunger Games, with Tom Blyth playing a young President Snow, who was portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the film franchise.
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) May 31, 2022
In a statement, Nathan Kahane, President of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, said the following on Zegler’s casting: “When you read Suzanne’s book, Lucy Gray’s emotional intelligence, physical agility, and fiercely powerful, determined singing voice shine through. Rachel embodies all of those skills – she is the perfect choice for our Lucy Gray.”
On the other hand, Lawrence stated that “Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation. Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.”
Meanwhile, producer Nina Jacobson expressed her joy at Zegler’s casting, explaining that “Lucy Gray is an incredibly complex character, a performer who has to use every skill in her arsenal to survive. Our casting team, Deb Zane and Dylan Jury spearheaded an exhaustive search, reading hundreds of actors in search of our perfect Lucy Gray. That search ended when Rachel Zegler blew the roof off with her depth and breadth of talent as an actor, singer, and performer. Rachel is utterly compelling; just like Lucy Gray, her voice and charisma command the stage while her inner strength and humanity transform those around her.”
Breaking out with an incredible performance in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story as Maria, Rachel Zegler was then cast in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and in Marc Webb’s live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the titular character, opposite Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen. The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes is another star-making role Zegler has in her short, but impressive resumé that will quickly build her up as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood working today.
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