Hunter Schafer, star of new Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, opens up about the franchise’s “universal message” and whether she would make it out of the fictitious deadly arena alive.
Euphoria breakout star Schafer is stepping into the role of stylist Tigris Snow in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, and bringing trans representation to the dystopian world of Panem.
Based on Suzanne Collins’ prequel to her best-selling YA dystopian trilogy, the new instalment traces a young Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, as he spirals into villainy. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is set 64 years before Coriolanus appears as the tyrannical president, hell-bent on destroying Katniss Everdeen.
The much-anticipated prequel also stars Rachel Zegler (Snow White) as District 12 tribute and Coriolanus’ love interest Lucy Gray Baird, Josh Andrés Rivera (West Side Story) as outspoken classmate Sejanus Plinth, Viola Davis (The Woman King) as ruthless head game-maker Dr Volumnia Gaul and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as games creator Casca Highbottom.
In an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Schafer discusses the humanity of the franchise’s message and her conflicting strategy if she was thrust into the Hunger Games arena for real.
“It’s the same thing that resonated even before the [original trilogy] came out,” Schafer says of the powerful political message imbued in the Hunger Games novel series.
“On the surface, the books are [set in] a dystopian sci-fi world [but] there’s something deeply human about the issues [the characters are] facing.
“It’s universal in a really crazy way,” she tells PinkNews.
“That’s one of the achievements of this series. They’re able to deliver a human and universal message through a distinct and unique world. Hopefully, that’s the same resonance [the new film] will deliver.”
Schafer – who also models for some of the best-known fashion brands in the world, including Prada, Dior and Gucci – found a link with her character Tigris through their shared love of fashion.
“I automatically felt connected to her,” she says.
For Tigris, fashion is her “life blood” and a “tool she used to help Coriolanus, and assimilate into the Capitol culture”, Schafer explains.
“It’s like an armour which I really relate to, as far as using fashion in that way.”
As for whether Schafer would last even a day in the arena, where the tributes must fight to the death, her answer is less definitive.
“My stance keeps changing,” she admits. “It depends on my mood.
“Yesterday, I thought: ‘Yeah, I would fight it out’, but today I’m like, ‘You know what girl, just go hide and hope for the best’.”
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbird & Snakes is due to open in cinemas on 17 November.