Billy the Kid star Tom Blyth will headline the prequel Hunger Games movie.
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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Meet the star of the next phase of the Hunger Games franchise.

Tom Blyth, the actor known for playing the titular Billy the Kid in Epix's TV series, has landed the starring role in Lionsgate's adaptation of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, the prequel novel to the Hunger Games series.

Blyth will portray a young Coriolanus Snow long before he grew to become the authoritarian President Snow, who was played by Donald Sutherland in the Hunger Games movies.

Lionsgate announced back in April 2020 that the studio would officially be adapting author Suzanne Collins' 2020 novel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes as a film. Francis Lawrence, who helmed nearly all of the past Hunger Games movies, will direct this new installment.

Set decades before the events of The Hunger Games, the story takes place around the 10th annual Hunger Games — the gladiatorial event where two teens from each of Panem's 12 districts are selected at random to fight to the death for the country's amusement. Snow is just 18 years of age when he's picked to be a mentor for the female tribute from District 12, much to his disdain.

Tom Blyth, The Hunger Games
'Billy the Kid' actor Tom Blyth landed the role of young President Snow in 'The Hunger Games' prequel, 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.'
| Credit: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; Murray Close/Lionsgate

The film's official synopsis reads, "Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12.

"But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem's attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor," the description continues. "Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy's race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake."

The Gilded Age fans might recognize Blyth as Archie Baldwin from season 1 episode "Charity Has Two Functions." He also had a role in the 2021 film Benediction.

"Coriolanus Snow is many things — a survivor, a loyal friend, a cutthroat, a kid quick to fall in love, and a young man ambitious to his core," Lawrence said in a statement. "Tom's take on the character showed us all the complex ambiguities of this young man as he transforms into the tyrant he would become."

"Tom's performance will both fulfill and disrupt everything you think you know about Coriolanus Snow," added Nina Jacobson, who will produce the new movie with Brad Simpson. "He's a tremendous talent who will show why Snow always lands on top."

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is currently set to open in theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.

PEOPLE was the first to report Blyth's casting.

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