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17 Actors Who Were Almost in “The Hunger Games”

Take a look at some stars who were up for the roles of Katniss, Peeta and Gale

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

The cast of The Hunger Games could have looked very different.

Though it’s hard to imagine anyone but Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth in the roles of Katniss, Peeta and Gale now, many other actors were up for the coveted roles.

Based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling books of the same name, the first movie was conceived in 2009 when Lionsgate acquired distribution rights to the novel.

It’s said that about 30 actresses auditioned for the lead role of Katniss in 2011, but in the end, the odds were in Lawrence’s favor.

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“Jennifer blew the doors off the place,” Gary Ross told The Hollywood Reporter of the casting process. “Josh was pitch-perfect. I had no idea that Liam wasn’t American until I talked to him when the reading was over. They were all just great. These were honestly easy decisions for me.”

As the world of Panem expands even further with the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes premiering this week, take a look back at which actors auditioned for the lead roles.

Related: Where to Watch The Hunger Games: How to Stream and Tune in on Cable

Saoirse Ronan as Katniss

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage; Murray Close/©Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection</p> Saoirse Ronan and Jennifer Lawrence

Samir Hussein/WireImage; Murray Close/©Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection

Saoirse Ronan and Jennifer Lawrence

Saoirse Ronan was one of the 30 actresses who auditioned for the role of Katniss. Though she lost out to Lawrence, she did end up booking a different book-to-movie adaptation as she starred in The Host from Twilight creator Stephenie Meyer.

Hailee Steinfeld as Katniss

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty; Murray Close/Color Force/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Hailee Steinfeld and Jennifer Lawrence

Cindy Ord/Getty; Murray Close/Color Force/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Hailee Steinfeld and Jennifer Lawrence

Following her breakout role in 2010’s True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld was one of the major contenders for Katniss. During an interview with The Independent in November 2019, Steinfeld opened up about not getting cast in the role, saying that she doesn’t look back at what could have been.

“I truly believe everything happens for a reason,” she said. “There are so many parts that I wanted or didn’t get ... But I think, weirdly, it’s the same feeling of having missed every high school dance and prom, and yet I somehow found my way to the Met Gala. I feel like I’ve made up for it.”

Though she didn’t play the iconic heroine in The Hunger Games, she did play another famous archer later in life, as she was cast as Kate Bishop on Marvel's Hawkeye.

Zoey Deutch as Katniss

<p>Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Zoey Deutch and Jennifer Lawrence

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Zoey Deutch and Jennifer Lawrence

Zoey Deutch tested for Katniss, a role she later said she was super “disappointed” about not getting. "I screen tested for Katniss but knew I didn't get it because in the screen test, he was like, 'Why don't you read this other part?' " she said on the Lights, Camera, Barstool podcast. "Literally. But, yeah, that one was a little painful."

Though she didn’t star in The Hunger Games adaptation, she booked a handful of YA films afterward, including 2013’s Beautiful Creatures and 2014’s Vampire Academy.

Shailene Woodley as Katniss

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection</p> Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence

Shailene Woodley was another big name who tried out for Katniss. Years later, she went on to play another famous YA heroine as she was cast as Beatrice Prior in 2014’s Divergent.

Emma Roberts as Katniss

<p>Dia Dipasupil/Getty; Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection</p> Emma Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence

Dia Dipasupil/Getty; Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Emma Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence

Emma Roberts was also up for the role of Katniss. "I was definitely interested in it, but it was just one of those things that didn't end up happening," Roberts told MTV News about auditioning for the part in 2011. "But I'm really excited to see the movie. I read all the books a couple weeks ago and I've got all my friends hooked, so it's totally cool and I can't wait to see it."

It all worked out for the best as a few short years later, Roberts booked American Horror Story: Coven, which helped her gain critical acclaim.

Evan Peters as Peeta

<p>Daniele Venturelli/WireImage; Photo by Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Evan Peters and Josh Hutcherson

Daniele Venturelli/WireImage; Photo by Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Evan Peters and Josh Hutcherson

Roberts wasn’t the only American Horror Story alum who auditioned for The Hunger Games. Evan Peters was reportedly up for the role of Peeta, which went to Hutcherson. Though he didn’t star opposite Lawrence as the District 12 tribute, he did act alongside her in the X-Men films.

Hunter Parrish as Peeta

<p>Walter McBride/Getty; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Hunter Parrish and Josh Hutcherson

Walter McBride/Getty; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock

Hunter Parrish and Josh Hutcherson

In March 2011, Hunter Parrish confirmed he met with The Hunger Games producers for the role of Peeta, telling E! News, "I'd be grateful to get the opportunity." Speaking on fans’ support for his potential casting, he added, "You don't get much better than that. The true fans of the book. So regardless of whether I'm a part of the film or not, I feel honored to just sort of be thought of.”

Lucas Till as Peeta

<p>Mark Hill/CBS via Getty; Murray Close/Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection</p> Lucas Till and Josh Hutcherson

Mark Hill/CBS via Getty; Murray Close/Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection

Lucas Till and Josh Hutcherson

Lucas Till was also a frontrunner for the role of Peeta. Like Peters, he didn’t book the role but did star opposite Lawrence in the X-Men films years later.

David Henrie as Gale

<p>Rich Polk/Getty;  Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstoc</p> David Henrie and Liam Hemsworth

Rich Polk/Getty; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstoc

David Henrie and Liam Hemsworth

At the height of his time of Wizards of Waverly Place, David Henrie screentested for the role of Gale, which eventually went to Hemsworth.

Drew Roy as Gale

<p>Jerritt Clark/WireImage; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Drew Roy and Liam Hemsworth

Jerritt Clark/WireImage; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Drew Roy and Liam Hemsworth

Drew Roy was yet another Disney Channel star in the running for Gale. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Hannah Montana actor screentested for the role.

Robbie Amell as Gale

<p>Leon Bennett/Getty; Color Force/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Robbie Amell and Liam Hemsworth

Leon Bennett/Getty; Color Force/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Robbie Amell and Liam Hemsworth

Following his roles on Nickelodeon shows such as Life with Derek and True Jackson, VP, Robbie Amell was up for the role of Gale.

Kristin Chenoweth as Effie

<p>Rob Kim/Getty; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Kristin Chenoweth and Elizabeth Banks

Rob Kim/Getty; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Kristin Chenoweth and Elizabeth Banks

During an interview with Jenny McCarthy for SiriusXM Entertainment, Kristin Chenoweth revealed that she “really wanted” to play Effie in The Hunger Games films. “I had a great meeting and a great time looking through the material and I was a fan of the books,” she explained. Though she was disappointed she didn’t get the part, she added that Elizabeth Banks was “so good” in the role.

John C. Reilly as Haymitch

<p>Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson

Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson

John C. Reilly was said to be a major frontrunner for the role of Haymitch, however, it ended up going to Woody Harrelson.

Garrett Hedlund as Finnick

<p>Robin L Marshall/WireImage; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Garrett Hedlund and Sam Claflin

Robin L Marshall/WireImage; Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Garrett Hedlund and Sam Claflin

While many book fans wanted to see Garrett Hedlund in the role of Finnick in Catching Fire, the actor told MTV News he ended up turning the role down due to scheduling conflicts.

"They did [approach me]," Hedlund said in 2012. "But I was working on this film at the time. We shot the whole film in 23 days and I was really immersed in it. I couldn't get around [to reading the Hunger Games novels]."

"Everybody around me is flipping out about the books, and I didn't really have the time to sit down lately to read any book, not just Hunger Games," he added "But I've got a couple [projects] on my plate that I'm looking forward to reading now."

Eventually, the role went to Sam Claflin, which helped him gain wider recognition in Hollywood.

Taylor Kitsch as Finnick

<p>Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Taylor Kitsch and Sam Claflin

Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock

Taylor Kitsch and Sam Claflin

Taylor Kitsch was said to be in the running for Finnick, but he later set the record straight, telling The Los Angeles Times in 2012 that the role was "not going to happen."

Mia Wasikowska as Johanna

<p>Marc Piasecki/FilmMagic; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Mia Wasikowska and Jena Malone

Marc Piasecki/FilmMagic; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock

Mia Wasikowska and Jena Malone

​​After playing Hutcherson’s sister in The Kids Are All Right, Mia Wasikowska was reportedly on the “short list” to play District 7 victor Johanna in Catching Fire, though the role eventually went to Jena Malone. 

Tony Shalhoub as Beetee

<p>Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Tony Shalhoub and Jeffrey Wright

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; Lionsgate/Color Force/Kobal/Shutterstock

Tony Shalhoub and Jeffrey Wright

Tony Shalhoub was reportedly “eyed” for the role of District 3 victor Beetee in Catching Fire, however, the role ultimately went to Jeffrey Wright.

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