The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is almost here!
On Thursday, PEOPLE spoke exclusively with Rachel Zegler at the London premiere of the final installment of the film Hunger Games franchise.
While on the red carpet, the leading lady, 22, who plays District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird, recalled her first daring visit to the Capitol in Panem just over 10 years ago.
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird.
Murray Close/Courtesy of Lionsgate
“I went to the theater with my sister and my mom to see it,” Zegler said of her experience watching the film. Although she was ready, she couldn’t say the same for another member of the audience.
“The woman next to my sister had never read the books or seen the movie before, and when the mutts came out, she started screaming, ‘What’s going to happen next?’” she shared.
Where to watch Hunger Games: How to stream and tune in on cable TV
Most The Hunger Games fans would know that mutts, also known as mutations, are cruel creatures created by The Capitol to add some excitement to those watching in the stands as they try to survive the games.
“And that is etched in my memory forever,” Zegler said, adding her wish. “I hope people in our theaters will do the same.”
Tom Blyth, Hunter Schafer, Rachel Zegler and Josh Andres Rivera.
On Sunday, she attended the film’s Berlin premiere at the Zoo Palast and stunned as she appeared to pay homage to Jennifer Lawrence’s character Katniss Everdeen.
Reminiscent of Everdeen’s flaming gown in the books and movies, earning her the nickname “Girl on Fire,” Zegler walked the carpet in a floor-length strapless black Alexander McQueen gown with what appeared to be fiery red flames designed into the bottom.
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In an August interview with Empire magazine, A ballad about songbirds and snakes director Francis Lawrence spoke of the strong contrast between Zegler and Lawrence’s characters.
“Katniss was an introvert and a survivor. She was quite quiet and stoic, you could say [she was] asexual. Lucy Gray is the opposite,” Lawrence explained. “She wears her sexuality on her sleeve, [and] she really is a performer.”
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.
He added of Lucy Gray: “She likes crowds. She knows how to play crowds and manipulate people.”
The upcoming film is a prequel to the 2012 blockbuster, and takes place “64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a gift, and decades before Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical president of Panem,” according to Lionsgate’s synopsis for the film.
English actor Tom Blyth, best known for his role on Billy the Kid, portrays 18-year-old Snow. Zegler’s boyfriend and story from the west side actor, Josh Andrés Rivera, plays Sejanus Plinth.
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Others who appear in the film include EuphoriaHunter Schafer making her film debut as Tigris Snow and Academy Award winner Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the eccentric, wacky and ruthless Gamemaker.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes hits theaters Monday.
Links: Rachel Zegler Remembers Seeing Hunger Games in Theaters at Age 10: ‘Ingrained in My Memory Forever’ (Exclusive) – Tekmonk Bio, Rachel Zegler Remembers Seeing Hunger Games in Theaters at Age 10: ‘Ingrained in My Memory Forever’ (Exclusive) – Kungfutv, Rachel Zegler Remembers Seeing Hunger Games in Theaters at Age 10: ‘Ingrained in My Memory Forever’ (Exclusive) – Hot News