Sam Claflin
Credit: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Ending weeks of speculation, Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman) has officially been cast as the dashing former Hunger Games champion Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate announced today. The British-born Claflin, 24, had been the front-runner for the coveted role since mid-July.

Of all the new characters in Catching Fire, Finnick looms largest. After he won his Hunger Games for District 4 when he was 14 thanks to his prowess with a trident, Finnick’s rakish good looks and louche charm helped him become something of a celebrity in the Capitol. (MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Along with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the 24-year-old Finnick is among the previous champions forced to return to the arena for the 75th annual Hunger Games, also known as the Quarter Quell. Katniss is initially wary of him — in Suzanne Collins’ bestseller, when they first meet, Finnick is wearing nothing but a fishing net with some strategically placed knots. But along with his former mentor Mags (Lynn Cohen), Finnick proves to be a powerful ally once they get to the arena.

The role marks yet another remarkable step forward in the lightning-fast rise of Claflin’s career. He first appeared in a supporting role in the Starz miniseries The Pillars of the Earth. In 2011, he starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the young romantic lead (i.e. the Orlando Bloom role). And earlier this summer, Claflin vied for Kristen Stewart’s affections in Snow White and the Huntsman.

He joins Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, and Amanda Plummer as one of the main new additions to the Hunger Games franchise. Director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) is due to begin shooting this fall, and the film is set to arrive in theaters on Nov. 22, 2013.

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