Why Wyatt Russell Turned Down ‘The Hunger Games’ Franchise

Actor Wyatt Russell stars in one of the most popular shows of early 2021. But before he entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he had the opportunity to appear in another popular franchise — The Hunger Games movies. Why did he turn it down?

Wyatt Russell is known for various films and TV shows

After pursuing a career as a professional hockey player, Russell turned to acting following an injury. He made one-off appearances in shows like Law & Order: LA and Arrested Development, with minor roles in films such as Cowboys & Aliens and This Is 40.

Russell quickly picked up traction in the industry. In 2016, he starred in the indie film Folk Hero & Funny Guy and an episode of the hit Netflix series Black Mirror. From there, he broke out as the star of the dramedy show Lodge 49 and made an impression with films like Ingrid Goes West.

He currently stars in ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’

Russell earned a lot of attention when he landed a role in the Disney+ Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. He portrays John Walker, an Army captain who the government selects as the new Captain America following Steve Rogers’ retirement. This doesn’t sit well with the titular heroes.

It also hasn’t made him a fan-favorite character for viewers. But, as Russell pointed out in an interview with BBC Radio 1, “That’s the point [of John Walter]. He’s supposed to be polarizing.” He added, “Being a Marvel punching bag is sort of like a badge of honor. So I’ll wear it proudly.”

Russell previously auditioned for the MCU early in his career

RELATED: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’: Wyatt Russell’s First-Ever Audition Was for a Different Marvel Role

It’s funny that Russell is now playing a Captain America, as the first film he ever auditioned for over a decade ago was Captain America: The First Avenger. “I went and did an audition,” he explained during the Off Camera Show interview. “It was literally my first thing.”

Russell continued. “I walked in, and I was like, ‘What do I — I just say the lines?'” Though he obviously didn’t get the part, he received some reassurance. “The casting director said, ‘Yeah, you’re good. You’re green, but you’re good, and we’ll bring you back on other stuff.'” Not long after, he landed his first role.

He turned down ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise

Wyatt Russell smiles at the AOL Build taping in 2017
Wyatt Russell | Ray Tamarra/GC Images

Prior to joining the MCU, Russell could have become a star for a different action-adventure franchise. In September 2013, his dad, actor Kurt Russell, told Page Six his son “had to turn down [The] Hunger Games Part 3 and 4″ to take a role in a then-upcoming sequel.

The film in question was 22 Jump Street, in which Russell portrayed Zook, a football player Channing Tatum’s character befriends while undercover. The movie filmed from September through December 2013. As for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, the two movies were shot back-to-back, also beginning in September 2013.