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How The Cast Of The Hunger Games Should Really Look

As any good tribute of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games knows, the film series took a few creative liberties in transforming the novels to the big screen. From adding additional scenes to removing characters—and whatever was happening with Seneca Crane's beard—the movies were definitely distinct from their source material, for better and for worse. One of the subtler shifts came by way of the characters' looks, which tended to differ from their literary descriptions. Here's how the cast of The Hunger Games should have looked according to the books.

Katniss Everdeen

Just as she did in the novels, Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, sported an ornate braid to manage her long, brown hair, and she had that so-called "Seam look" of olive-toned skin, dark straight hair, and humble clothing indicative of her life in one of Panem's less favored districts. One of the more obvious differences when it came to her appearance, though, was the fact that she wasn't quite as short or gaunt as the Girl on Fire.

There were other minor deviations, like the fact that her hunting jacket from the Seam was a little more fitted than fans might've expected from a hand-me-down from her late father, and her eyes sometimes seemed a little more green or blue than gray most of the time. The most egregious error in translation, however, was her age. Lawrence was in her early 20s when she took on the role of the 16-year-old protagonist, but many fans were willing to overlook the adaptive aging process there if it meant nabbing the eventual Oscar winner for the part.

In Katniss' eyes: Almost all of the boys and at least half of the girls are bigger than I am, even though many of the tributes have never been fed properly. You can see it in their bones, their skin, the hollow look in their eyes. I may be smaller naturally, but overall my family's resourcefulness has given me an edge in that area. I stand straight, and while I'm thin, I'm strong. The meat and plants from the woods combined with the exertion it took to get them have given me a healthier body than most of those I see around me. - The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 6/10 - Even though it was easy to forget about the physical differences thanks to how convincing Lawrence may have been during her rise to rebellion, her screen version was still older, taller, and much more well-fed than Katniss' written rendering ... and that last difference wouldn't matter as much if, you know, the story weren't called The Hunger Games.

Peeta Mellark

As with Katniss, the filmmakers got a lot of things right when it came to bringing Peeta Mellark to cinematic life by way of Josh Hutcherson. In both the written and film iterations, Peeta has dishwater blonde hair that falls in waves, medium height and a stocky build earned the hard way by hauling flour around his parents' bakery, and a meek, albeit pleasant, countenance that Katniss could easily overpower when she wanted to. His smile was genuine and ever-present, even in the most dire of circumstances.

However, in lieu of the character's signature blue eyes, the film presented him with hazel peepers, and unlike in the books, Peeta never lost his leg after the Games, which was considered by many to be a drastic (and possibly unnecessary) departure from his storyline and description. Whatever was lacking in the prosthetic limb department, though, was more than made up by his mental decline and the toll it took on his body in the final two films.

In Katniss' eyes: Then his eyes open, unmistakably blue in the brown mud and green leaves. I gasp and am rewarded with a hint of white teeth as he laughs. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 5/10 – Apart from his chocolate eyes and the fact that his hair somehow got slicked into a weird bouffant after the first film, the look was pretty accurate. But the fact that he had an extra limb in three of the four movies was a major departure from the novels.

Gale Hawthorne

If there's one character who was perhaps perfectly matched with his actor counterpart's looks, it was Liam Hemsworth as District 12's handiest hunk, Gale Hawthorne. In the books, he's characterized as a tall, alluringly handsome, strong gent with the same dark hair and grey eyes that mark so many of the coal miners' children in District 12, including Katniss herself.

While onscreen Gale was a little more pale than written, and he certainly didn't appear to have missed many recent meals, it was still a pretty accurate representation—ignoring the fact, of course, that like Katniss he was also much older in the movie than the books. He and Katniss were both strong, tree-tall hunters who could easily be convincing as faux cousins, just as they were in print. And just like in the book basis, he was't caught smiling very often and looked pretty intimidating (or as Katniss put it, "someone menacing") as a result of his grim grinlessness.

In Katniss' eyes: But it wouldn't do, what with the romance I was playing out in the arena, to have my best friend be Gale. He was too handsome, too male, and not the least bit willing to smile and play nice for the cameras. We do resemble each other, though, quite a bit. We have that Seam look. Dark straight hair, olive skin, gray eyes. So some genius made him my cousin. – Catching Fire

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 9/10 – Hemsworth, like Lawrence, still looked a touch too old to pull off being a teenager. But yeah, he was definitely believable as the guy girls around school would whisper about.


In the books, Katniss' fabulous stylist Cinna was described as having green eyes with flecks of gold scattered throughout, but the film stuck with Lenny Kravitz's natural chocolate brown eyes and opted to add in some facial hair and earrings to boot. His fashion and makeup choices were as low-key as described—they got the gold eyeliner and penchant for simple black ensembles dead on—but like so many other characters, he was much older in the movies than the rising style guru we met on paper.

In Katniss' eyes: The door opens and a young man who must be Cinna enters. I'm taken aback by how normal he looks. Most of the stylists they interview on television are so dyed, stenciled, and surgically altered they're grotesque. But Cinna's close cropped hair appears to be its natural shade of brown. He's in a simple black shirt and pants. The only concession to self alteration seems to be metallic gold eyeliner that has been applied with a light hand. It brings out the flecks of gold in his green eyes. And, despite my disgust with the Capitol and their hideous fashions, I can't help thinking how attractive it looks. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 8/10 – Even without the right eye color and age, Kravitz embodied all the swagger and self-possession that Cinna called for and then some.

Effie Trinket

Effie Trinket's flair for extreme fashion certainly came through in The Hunger Games movies, as did the character's unsettling enthusiasm for the Capitol and its Games (and their eventual decline). However, there were still some minor deviations from the well-described costumery and wigs Elizabeth Banks sported throughout the written series.

For example, in The Hunger Games, her pink wig is considered ridiculous and slid out of place, and in Catching Fire, she was said to have donned a pumpkin-colored headdress rather than her pink mane from the first round. She did eventually land on a gold wig later on in both iterations, as her sign of solidarity with the Mockingjay.

In Katniss' eyes: Effie Trinket, District 12's escort, fresh from the Capitol with her scary white grin, pinkish hair, and spring green suit ... Her pink hair must be a wig because her curls have shifted slightly off-center since her encounter with Haymitch. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 9/10 – Even though she had a few outfit and hairstyle changes, that was definitely Effie we saw up there on the big screen; she could never be mistaken for anyone else, and that's probably the whole point.

Haymitch Abernathy

In the books, Haymitch Abernathy is described as a morose, disheveled alcoholic who disgusts Katniss with his lack of composure and regard for the lives of the children being sent to fight in a battle he himself knows all too well. He stumbled and fumbled his way through life in Victor Village in a way that just didn't translate through to the screen at all. The Second Quarter Quell winner was said to have dark curly hair, while his screen counterpart played by Woody Harrelson has straight blonde locks, and whereas book Haymitch had grey eyes, Harrelson's were blue in the movies.

In Katniss' eyes: Haymitch Abernathy, a paunchy, middle-aged man, who at this moment appears hollering something unintelligible, staggers onto the stage, and falls into the third chair ... He's disgusting. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 6/10 - It was pretty easy to forget that the hair and eye colors were off because of how convincing Harrelson was as the mentor who decided to shape up his act enough to help his girl "stay alive" in the arena.

Primrose Everdeen

Diverging from Primrose Everdeen's appearance in the novels, Willow Shields's own hazel eyes took the place of the crystalline blue Prim shared with her mother. She also might not have "tip[ped] the scale at seventy pounds soaking wet," the way she was described, but she did have the same waif's build. She was around the right age, hair color, and gentle demeanor, but she should never have worn that Mockingjay pin. That was a big departure from the source material, as it was originally the mayor's daughter, Madge Undersee, who gifted the pin to Katniss for good luck in the Games.

In Katniss' eyes: Prim's face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named...That's why my mother and Prim, with their light hair and blue eyes, always look out of place. They are. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 6/10 - If we pretended the Mockingjay pin was never attached to her blouse, she'd get more like an eight.

President Coriolanus Snow

Donald Sutherland's screen turn as President Snow was one of the most distinguishable from the written origins because he wasn't the small, thin, sinister-looking villain of the books, and his lips certainly didn't match the botched enhancement job described on paper. He also didn't have the same sore-riddled stretch mouth and snake-like eyes described in Collins' stories, and apart from his ritzy garbs, he could've easily been mistaken for a non-Capitol citizen for all his lack of eccentricities. But, hey, at least they got the white rose on his lapel right (assuming it, too, smelled like rose perfume).

In Katniss' eyes: A small, white-haired man who seems vaguely familiar is reading a book. He holds up a finger as if to say, "Give me a moment." Then he turns and my heart skips a beat. I'm staring into the snakelike eyes of President Snow ... President Snow smiles and I notice his lips for the first time. I'm expecting snake lips, which is to say none. But his are overly full, the skin stretched too tight. I have to wonder if his mouth has been altered to make him more appealing. If so, it was a waste of time and money, because he's not appealing at all. – Catching Fire

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 3/10 – Personality-wise, it was spot-on, but the shifts in appearance were plentiful.

Finnick Odair

Whether or not Sam Claflin's version of Finnick Odair matched the extraordinarily good-looking muscleman he was described to be is a matter of subjective perspective, but the filmmakers certainly gave his frame some consideration when casting the role. Not only is he athletic, tan, and cocky as the day is long, but he's also adequately redeemed by his penchant for shirtlessness and affinity for sugar cubes onscreen. Plus, he clung to his trusty trident as tightly as he was supposed to. The most noticeable difference? The fact that his sea-green eyes weren't as striking onscreen, and his hair was more sandy blonde than bronze in some parts of the films.

In Katniss' eyes: Finnick, the handsome bronze-haired guy from District 4 who was crowned ten years ago at the age of fourteen ... [his] famous sea green eyes are only inches from mine. He pops a sugar cube in his mouth and leans against my horse ... I can't argue that Finnick isn't one of the most stunning, sensuous people on the planet. – Catching Fire

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 9/10 - If only they'd put color contacts in the production budget, he'd be perfect.

Johanna Mason

Personality-wise, Jena Malone's screen edition of Johanna Mason was a dead ringer for the sassy, acrid-tongued girl we grew to know and love in the books, but her appearance in the films was a little different. For example, her eyes aren't as wide apart and her hair wasn't spiked (until Mockingjay, when she was bald, at least). She was also a little less muscular than one might've expected of someone coming out of the lumberjack district, especially since she's supposed to be able to take Katniss down in the Quarter Quell arena.

In Katniss' eyes: Johanna Mason. From District 7 Lumber and paper, thus the tree. She won by very convincingly portraying herself as weak and helpless so that she would be ignored. Then she demonstrated a wicked ability to murder. She ruffles up her spiky hair and rolls her wide-set brown eyes. "Isn't my costume awful?..." - Catching Fire

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 6/10 - A choice haircut and a little bit of beefing up could've made this one truer to the source material, but, hey, at least they got the attitude right.

President Alma Coin

As in the written medium, Julianne Moore's take on President Coin is a middle-aged woman with wig-like gray hair and a colorless pallor. Moore may not pass for 50, of course, which was the estimated age of Coin in the books, but since that approximation was made through the eyes of a 16-year-old, that might count for much anyway. Meanwhile, her silvery eye color mostly matches the description, but they could've made it a little brighter to be even more accurate because they were certainly exaggerated in the description.

In Katniss' eyes: She's fifty or so, with gray hair that falls in an unbroken sheet to her shoulders. I'm somewhat fascinated by her hair, since it's so uniform, so without a flaw, a wisp, even a split end. Her eyes are gray, but not like those of people from the Seam. They're very pale, as if almost all the color has been sucked out of them. The color of slush that you wish would melt away. - Mockingjay

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 9/10 – At this point, we're literally splitting hairs because this was Alma Coin, through and through.


In the Hunger Games movie, Jacqueline Emerson's vision of Foxface has the same bright red hair and aptitude for stealth and low-key survivalism she has in the books, but the movie version is also a lot less meek (and devoid of fox-like facial features) than fans might've expected. Perhaps part of the reason she's a little unrecognizable is that, for the most part, she disappears in the arena, and she says and does very little except for madly train at the puzzles station during the prep segments. Even so, there's no resemblance between this version and the almost animalistic appearance she has on paper, especially without any amber eyes or the tiny frame she was illustrated to have.

In Katniss' eyes: There's something about that sly grin that makes me sure that befriending Foxface would ultimately get me a knife in the back. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 6/10 – Anyone can open a bottle of red hair dye and say they're Foxface, but to look the part is something else entirely. This is the Capitol, remember? Describing someone as having animal-like features actually means something in this story because, you know, it's not uncommon (see also: Tigris).


Perhaps it was smart for writer-director Gary Ross to dial down the imposing size and stature of Thresh in the film adaptation because if he had appeared as written, there's no way audiences would believe he'd been killed in one-on-one combat with Cato (Alexander Ludwig), even if the latter was a career tribute. In the first book, he's described as having golden eyes, standing well over six feet tall, and sporting the build of an ox from so many days in the agricultural sector. However, as played by Dayo Okeniyi in the movie, he was much more approachable in size and demeanor, making his decision to forego killing Katniss when he had the opportunity more believable.

In Katniss' eyes: The boy tribute from District 11, Thresh, has the same dark skin as Rue, but the resemblance stops there. He's one of the giants, probably six and a half feet tall and built like an ox, but I noticed he rejected the invitations from the Career Tributes to join their crowd. Instead he's been very solitary, speaking to no one, showing little interest in training. – Thresh

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 7/10 – He isn't nearly as threatening, and he's a lot more jovial in training than his written version.


Gulp, Rue. A lot of Hunger Games readers were up in arms about the fact that Rue, as played by Amandla Stenberg, was portrayed as having brown skin in the the first film, but that was a clear misinterpretation from the source material because while she was said to resemble Prim in posture and size, she was specifically described as black in the book. The film's representation of the tiny, feisty, and quick-on-her-feet pre-teen was accurate to the writing and gave her that gut-wrenching smile that affected Katniss so in both versions. She wasn't quite as frail as she was on paper, but that's about the only major difference to be found.

In Katniss' eyes: She's the twelve-year-old, the one who reminded me so of Prim in stature. Up close she looks about ten. She has bright, dark, eyes and satiny brown skin and stands tilted up on her toes with her arms slightly extended to her sides, as if ready to take wing at the slightest sound. It's impossible not to think of a bird. – The Hunger Games

Gamemakers' accuracy score: 10/10 – She was perfect. Cue the four-note Mockingjay whistle for how right they got Rue.