UPDATE: Melissa Leo is reportedly no longer in the running for the role of Mags. The following story has been amended accordingly.
The tributes for the Hunger Games of The Hunger Games were stocked mostly with young actors unknown to most audiences. But as the casting sweepstakes for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire really begins to (forgive me) catch fire, it appears that Lionsgate hopes to dial up the star wattage a bit for its wildly anticipated sequel.
Variety is reporting that Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Tony Shalhoub (Monk) are the latest actors to top the shortlist to play the new tributes in Catching Fire. (Some SPOILERS follow for those who have not read Suzanne Collins’ novel.)
In Catching Fire, the 75th annual Hunger Games introduce a twist to the rules, bringing back past Hunger Games winners from each district for what’s called the Quarter Quell. Claflin is circling the coveted role of Finnick Odair, the swaggeringly handsome District 4 tribute who won his Hunger Games at age 14 thanks to his prowess with a trident.
Leo is under consideration for Finnick’s fellow District 4 tribute Mags, a mostly unintelligible woman who is unafraid of self-sacrifice — and 84 years old in Collins’ novel. And Shalhoub is being eyed for the key role of Beetee, a District 3 tribute with a sharp mind for electronics.
As is the case with all casting reports, Lionsgate declined to confirm the news. Earlier this morning, the studio officially announced that Amanda Plummer had landed the role of District 3 tribute Wiress.