Last week we got a list of the 9 young actors who were screen-testing for the roles of Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne opposite Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.
Now Deadline has word that the top contender for Peeta is 18 year old Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right), with Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) the current frontrunner for the role of Gale.
The Hunger Games is set in a future America which is divided into 12 poor districts that serve a wealthy Capitol territory. Once a year, each district submits a girl and boy as tributes to participate in life-or-death games.
Katniss is a young girl who volunteers to take the place of her sister, while Peeta is a boy from Katniss’ town who is also selected for the games. During the opening ceremony he reveals his unrequited love for her, and Katniss spends the rest of the story unsure whether the move was a survival ploy or a true act. Gale is Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and hunting partner, but becomes more in the second and third books.
Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) is directing, and Lionsgate have set a March 23, 2012 release date, with production beginning this month.