Some of "The Hunger Games" trilogy's most memorable characters make brief appearances in the first book, such as slick Hunger Games host Caesar Flickerman (played by Stanley Tucci in the movie), and Prim, Katniss' little sister, who is played by Willow Shields. From the looks of it, Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) has a beefed-up role in the film version.
Here are the major players:
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) -- Katniss is strong and determined to protect her family at all costs. When the casting process began for Katniss, the talented Lawrence had just scored an Oscar nomination for her work as a young woman trying to help her family in a hardscrabble existence in "Winter's Bone." Some "Hunger Games" fans initially groused that Lawrence, 21, was too old, too peach-skinned, too blond, but she's since been widely hailed as the right choice.
Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) -- A baker's son rarely knows hunger, but he does know longing: Peeta has loved Katniss from afar since they were kids. Peeta once did a kindness when the Everdeens were starving, and Katniss must decide what she owes him once they are in the Games arena. Hutcherson and Lawrence said they bonded making the film, although she did give him a mild concussion when they were goofing around, off-camera. "The only time I got hurt was when I got kicked in the side of the head by Jennifer," he told E! Online.
Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) -- Thankfully, there isn't any serious Team Peeta/Team Gale nonsense in "The Hunger Games." Still, Gale must be considered Katniss' soulmate. At the beginning of the book, he wants her to run off with him. Although he can only watch her in the Games, his hatred of the Capitol is an indication that he will stay on the sidelines only for so long. Hemsworth lost out to his brother, Chris, in playing a Norse god in "Thor" and "The Avengers," but he might just have the last box-office laugh when the dust clears.
Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) -- Katniss and Peeta's escort throughout the Games' process, she is a flighty, overdressed, powder-puffed woman desperate to trade up to a better District than 12. Is she merely self-centered, or truly one of the bad guys? Banks, who lobbied hard to win the role, had to spend more than two hours getting made up each day and has joked that director Gary Ross had better focus on her absurd shoes and nails, considering the pain and inconvenience they cost her.
Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) -- One of only two District 12 tributes to have survived the Hunger Games, Haymitch is mentor to Katniss and Peeta, provided he stays upright and sober. He's more cunning than he appears, however, and Katniss worries he might be favoring her fellow District 12 tribute. Ross has said from the start that he wanted Harrelson to play the role.
Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) -- Whereas the rest of "The Hunger Games" styling team might seem at home in The Emerald City (think wild hair, dyed skin, Tammy Faye Bakker makeup), Cinna is a young stylist who dresses simply and thinks outside the box. He also makes Katniss and Peeta the talk of the Games parade. The casting of the musician to play Cinna was somewhat controversial, but he showed his acting chops in 2009's "Precious."
Rue (Amandla Stenberg) -- District 11 tribute Rue is a waif of a girl whose stealth and agility help her stay alive when pitted against more alpha contestants. It is her friendship and aid that spark a turning point in the Games for Katniss. The young actress playing Rue did some of her own stunts in 2011's "Colombiana."
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) -- The Capitol's most powerful citizen cares more for his beloved rose garden than he does the lives of others. The president eventually will play an even bigger role in the rest of the trilogy, but fans know it's clear: Yep, he's evil.
(Contact Maria Sciullo at msciullo(at)post-gazette.com.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)
Credit Pittsburgh Post-Gazette