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'Hunger Games': Josh Hutcherson is Peeta, Liam Hemsworth is Gale. Good choices?

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Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth have officially been cast in The Hunger Games. Hutcherson is playing Peeta Mellark, the noble romantic who enters the arena alongside Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, while Hemsworth is playing Gale, the alpha-male outdoorsman. They’re a pivotal pair — Peeta and Gale both vie for Katniss’ romantic affections, and the two characters also come to symbolize two very different approaches to rebelling against the totalitarian force of the Capitol. At least in the first book, Peeta has a much larger role, but assuming Games becomes a full-on bigscreen trilogy, we’ll be seeing quite a bit of Hemsworth’s Gale, also. So are they right for the roles? 

As a fan of the books, I kind of like how director Gary Ross has opted to cast two extremely different actors for the role. Just look at the image above. Hutcherson is 18 but could pass for 13; Hemsworth is 21, but he could’ve probably passed for 21 when he was 13. Hutcherson doesn’t bear an instant resemblance to Peeta — the character is blonde in the books — but he has the right nice-guy look, although it’ll be intriguing to see if he can play some of the dark, dark, dark emotional spaces that Peeta finds himself in. Some people have been expressing disbelief that Hutcherson can believably romance the statuesque Jennifer Lawrence, but I kind of like the fact that the onscreen Katniss will be instantly more imposing than Peeta. (It could turn out like the Ripley-Hicks chemistry in Aliens — remember how, when they first hang out, she’s all no-bull badassery, and he’s the goon who’s falling asleep on a jump ship?)

I’m a bit less sure about Hemsworth, just because he has less of a track record. His only major role so far was in the Miley Cyrus romance The Last Song, where he did the brooding-romantic Nicholas Sparks thing. But Gale is a tricky role: He’s a bad boy, but he’s also a passionate rebel who wants to free his fellow citizens. Since Gale has a relatively small role in the first movie, Hemsworth will have to make a pretty serious impression in just a few scenes. One thing’s for sure: With this bit of casting, Hollywood is officially in the Hemsworth business, since Liam’s older brother Chris is headlining next month’s Thor. (There’s apparently a third Hemsworth brother, in case DC is looking for someone to play the Flash in Justice League.)

Hunger Games fans, tell us what you think about this casting news. Do Hutcherson and Hemsworth match up to what you imagined Peeta and Gale would look like?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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