‘The Hunger Games’: Donald Sutherland Landed the Role of President Snow in an Unusual Way

Every story needs a villain. And while fans of The Hunger Games movies could certainly argue that the films feature more than one villain, there’s one that undoubtedly sticks out in viewers’ minds. President Coriolanus Snow is the chilling antagonist of the movie who inspires fear with nothing more than a whisper. Donald Sutherland proved to be a perfect casting choice for the unique part, but how did he manage to land the coveted role in The Hunger Games?

Donald Sutherland star of The Hunger Games movies
Donald Sutherland | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Sutherland is largely considered to be a veteran in the entertainment industry. His film career spans more than five decades and he has starred in major movies like Fellini’s Casanova, Cold Mountain, and Pride & Prejudice. When he was cast as President Snow in The Hunger Games, many people assumed that he was offered the role outright. But that actually wasn’t how it happened for the actor.

Donald Sutherland reveals how he got cast in ‘The Hunger Games’ movies

In the industry, there are a variety of ways an actor can secure a role. The main two, however, are auditions and offers. Auditions occur when an actor (or the agent and/or manager representing them) submits for a role. If the casting director feels like they may be a good fit, they receive an audition and compete against other actors for the part. But an actor of Sutherland’s caliber is also likely to get outright offers. This is when a producer, casting director, or director offers a specific part out to an actor sans audition. However, neither of the aforementioned methods is how Sutherland was cast in The Hunger Games.

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In an interview with GQ, Sutherland got candid about how he secured the role of President Snow in The Hunger Games. The actor revealed that he was completely enamored with the script and he knew he wanted to be a part of the film right away. Rather than contact his agency and request that they get him an audition, Sutherland chose to pen a letter that detailed his passion for the project.

Sutherland penned a passionate letter after he read the script

“Nobody asked me to do it,” Sutherland shared, quashing speculation that he was handed his role in The Hunger Games outright. “I wasn’t offered it. I like to read scripts and it captured my passion. I wrote them a letter. The role of the president had maybe a line in the script. Maybe two. Didn’t make any difference. I thought it was an incredibly important film, and I wanted to be a part of it. I thought it could wake up an electorate that had been dormant since the ‘70s.”

At the time he read the script, Sutherland hadn’t read The Hunger Games books at all. In fact, he had absolutely no clue that the books were wildly popular until after he filmed. Still, the actor’s passionate letter was enough to grab the attention of Gary Ross, who directed the first film. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sutherland had no clue about ‘The Hunger Games’ books prior to filming

“I hadn’t read the books,” Sutherland shared. “To be truthful, I was unaware of them. But they showed my letter to the director, Gary Ross, and he thought it would be a good idea if I did it. He wrote the wonderfully poetic scenes in the rose garden, and they formed the mind and wit of Coriolanus Snow.” We’re so pleased that Sutherland went out of his way to fight for the role of President Snow. We truly can’t imagine any other actor playing the part.