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How ‘Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Made Viola Davis a Mad Scientist


Celebrate the digital release with this behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Big Picture

  • In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, viewers get to meet a young Coriolanus Snow and see his relationship with District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird.
  • Dr. Volumina Gaul is the main antagonist in the prequel, portrayed by Viola Davis, and her wardrobe is described as “fashion-forward” and unsettling, particularly her red lab coat.
  • The movie follows Snow’s journey as he mentors Lucy Gray and questions his role in a post-war Panem, while harboring ambitions of power and greatness.

In The Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, audiences get the chance to meet the young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) long before he ever became the president of Panem. But while Coryo plays mentor to — and falls in love with — District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), who acts as the villain to the man who will one day be the most villainous? That honor goes to Dr. Volumina Gaul (Viola Davis), and in honor of the movie hitting Digital today, Collider is excited to share an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the costume designers brought the character to the big screen.

Fans of the Hunger Games franchise are of course familiar with the visual and sartorial excesses of the Capitol, and that element was retained in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Describing her as a “fashion-forward” woman, and a “mad scientist” with a Willy Wonka vibe, the team talks about the process of designing her wardrobe. They particularly single out her red lab coat, highlighting the unsettling visual of her seemingly covered in blood, which lends a menacing air to her character.

What Is ‘Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ About?

Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows Coriolanus Snow as he is tasked with mentoring a tribute during the 10th Annual Hunger Games. The tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, has enough of a defiant spirit that it causes Coryo to question everything he’s been taught living in the Capitol, and makes him question his role in a post-war Panem, even as he harbors ambitions of power and greatness in the new order. In addition to Blyth, Zegler, and Davis, the Francis Lawrence-directed movie also stars Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer, and Jon Andrés Rivera.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is available on Digital now, and arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on February 13. Check out the exclusive featurette below:

The Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Film Poster

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) – the last hope for the once-proud Snow family – who is reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12 for the 10th Hunger Games. Snow sets out on a race against time to survive and reveal if he will become a songbird or a snake.

Release Date
November 17, 2023

165 minutes

Main Genre

Michael Lesslie , Michael Arndt , Suzanne Collins

Production Company
Color Force, Good Universe, Lionsgate

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