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Here’s why one Hunger Games character was rewritten for the new movie

While The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a mostly faithful book-to-film adaptation, the director told us why one change was neccesary.

Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth in Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

As The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes dominates the news cycle and has fans flocking to cinemas, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re back in 2012.

Eleven years on, Hunger Games fever is well and truly back as new movie The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes delves into the past of President Snow; one of the best movie villains of all time. But there are a few key changes between the book and movie: namely, a more assertive take on the fan favorite character Sejanus Plinth.

In an interview with The Digital Fix, returning Hunger Games movie director Francis Lawrence explained why these changes were made. “What was interesting in the casting of this character was we did this big casting and nobody was like, getting it right and all of the actors were feeling sort of pathetic in a way,” he explained.

“And I think what we realized was that it was actually not an actor issue, it was a character issue on our part in the adaptation. And it made me and […] the screenwriters kind of go back and go back and really dive into who Sejanus is and get the kind of person he is and we rewrote the character in the script. And then we went back and then Josh [Andrés] came in and he read our new version of Sejanus and just really nailed it.”

In the book, Sejanus, a District 2 mentor and Capitol resident, is arguably more defeatist; radiating an aura of melancholy. Conversely, in the movie, he’s more aggressive and vehement in his anti-Capitol opinions. And while he appears civil toward Snow in the movie, in the book it’s noted that Snow doesn’t like him on account of his District 2 roots.

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For the most part, these changes to Sejanus’ personality make sense. The book relied more on subtleties and telling rather than showing, but the former isn’t really possible when making a movie. It’s much easier to tell than it is to show, so making him more vocally anti-Capitol is understandable. Different mediums require different types of storytelling.

In her four-star Ballad of Songs and Snakes review, Jess Cullen notes how Lawrence “proves yet again that having a singular vision behind a film series […] is a rare and true benefit. This remains true, but clearly some page-to-screen adjustments needed to be made.

For more on the drama movie, check out our articles about the Hunger games castThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes ending, the 10th annual Hunger Games, all The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Easter eggs, and how to watch The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.