In the highly anticipated Hunger Games prequel, “Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” fans are in for a treat as they witness the endearing character of Tigris, who plays a pivotal role as Coriolanus Snow’s cousin and supporter. Hunter Schafer, renowned for her breakout role in “Euphoria,” steps into the shoes of the sweet and compassionate Tigris, offering a fresh perspective on a beloved character set against the backdrop of a young Coriolanus Snow (played by Tom Blyth) during the 10th annual Hunger Games. This prequel, set six decades before the events of the original Hunger Games franchise, delves into the early years of Panem’s history.
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Tigris, initially introduced as a Capitol stylist, is portrayed as a far cry from her later disgruntled self. In this prequel, she emerges as Coriolanus Snow’s closest confidant and unwavering supporter. The story kicks off with a heartwarming scene where Tigris, affectionately calling her cousin “Coryo,” meticulously restores an old button-up shirt that once belonged to their late uncle. This shirt, meant to be worn by Coryo on Reaping Day, carries a deeper significance as it represents the Snow family’s financial struggles following the first civil war between the districts and the Capitol. Tigris, an apprentice under the esteemed designer Fabricia Whatnot, steps in to provide crucial financial support to her family, exemplifying her selflessness.
Franchise director Francis Lawrence, renowned for his work on “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay Part 1 and 2,” was captivated by Hunter Schafer’s authenticity during her audition. He describes her as one of the most genuine individuals he has ever met, which ultimately led to her being cast in the role. The director emphasizes that many auditionees failed to capture the essence of Tigris, often leaning towards mimicking the flamboyant Capitol style personified by Effie Trinket. Hunter Schafer, on the other hand, brought a unique warmth and authenticity to the character that immediately resonated with Lawrence.
This warmth in Tigris’ character proves to be central to the narrative. Her bond with Coryo is depicted as exceptionally close, and she radiates hope in stark contrast to the darker aspects of the Capitol. Tigris becomes the beacon of goodness in her cousin’s life, attempting to steer him towards a more compassionate and hopeful path.
In the original Hunger Games films, Tigris is portrayed differently as a prized stylist who ultimately aligns with the rebellion against President Snow. However, “Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” sheds light on the origins of the rift between Tigris and Coriolanus. In this prequel, Tigris displays empathy for the tributes, particularly Lucy Gray Baird, the District 12 female tribute whom Coriolanus is tasked with mentoring. Tigris lends her dresses to Lucy Gray, including the iconic rainbow dress worn during the Reaping Day ceremony, showcasing her compassion. In contrast, Coriolanus does not share these sympathetic sentiments.
At the heart of the story lies a young Coriolanus Snow torn between opposing forces. On one side is the darkness personified by Viola Davis’ sinister head gamemaker, Volumnia Gaul, and on the other, the hope and warmth epitomized by Hunter Schafer’s Tigris. The narrative explores Coriolanus’ struggle to define himself and his beliefs amidst the complex backdrop of Panem society.
As fans eagerly anticipate the release of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” in theaters on November 17th, this prequel promises to provide fresh insights into beloved characters and the early history of Panem.
For more exclusive details about the Hunger Games prequel and a sneak peek into the 2023 Fall TV Preview content, be sure to check out EW’s Fall Movie Preview cover story, available until September 29th.