Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in 'The Hunger Games'
(Lionsgate)

Who Should Play Haymitch in the New ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel?

Hunger Games fans are staying well-fed today with news of a new prequel novel from author Suzanne Collins and an accompanying film adaptation, both centering on Haymitch Abernathy—Katniss and Peeta’s mentor, played by Woody Harrelson in the Hunger Games movies.

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The new prequel, Sunrise on the Reaping, is set during the 50th Hunger Games, a.k.a. the Second Quarter Quell, when twice as many tributes were reaped from each district. As we learned in the previous books and movies, Haymitch Abernathy was 40 years old during the 74th Hunger Games, the first game to produce two victors: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. We actually know a surprising amount about Haymitch’s past: He was 16 when he was reaped from District 12 to compete in the Second Quarter Quell, leaving behind a mother, a brother, and a girlfriend. After slaughtering most of his competition at the cornucopia in an infamous bloodbath, Haymitch formed an alliance with fellow District 12 tribute Maysilee Donner, who ultimately died, leaving Haymitch to duke it out with the only other survivor, a female career tribute from District 1.

We’ll spare you any more details in case you haven’t read the books or would rather not remember exactly how the Second Quarter Quell ends. Just know that it was super violent and bloody, and there’s a reason (or 12) why Haymitch turns to alcohol to cope.

With Sunrise on the Reaping focusing on a 16-year-old Haymitch, we’re all anxious to learn who will play the teen version of Woody Harrelson. His vibe is so distinct, which makes it difficult to fan-cast a younger version of the actor, but knowing that Haymitch was an arrogant teen with a smart mouth makes it a little easier to narrow it down. Casting for teen characters can go one of two ways: The filmmakers cast an actual teen in the 15-18 age range, or they choose someone in their early 20s—the more common approach for most movies and shows about teens.

Actors closer in age to 16-year-old Haymitch include Walker Scobell from the Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Nicholas Crovetti from Big Little Lies and the American remake of Goodnight Mommy, and Roman Griffin Davis from Jojo Rabbit—all interesting choices, but they might read a little too young on screen.

Going with someone a little older to play teen Haymitch also brings up some compelling options: Christopher Briney, who played Aaron Samuels in the recent Mean Girls; Ty Simpkins from the Insidious franchise and Iron Man 3; and Jaeden Martell from Knives Out and It. It might be preferable to cast someone in their late teens or early 20s, especially given the amount of violence expected in Sunrise on the Reaping.

What do you think? Who should play young Haymitch in the Hunger Games prequel?


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Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.