While Catching Fire continues its campaign of conquest at the holiday box office, Lionsgate is busily filming Mockingjay, the Hunger Games double-threequel that will open in two halves in Novembers 2014 and 2015. The studio just announced its latest bit of casting: Robert Knepper will play Antonius. That’s interesting news, since there’s no one in the Mockingjay book named Antonius. The first two films departed a bit from the source material, with scenes focusing on President Snow that would’ve been impossible in the Katniss-narrated books. But this is the first time that the franchise has cast a recognizable actor in a completely new role. Forthwith, some possible explanations for just who, exactly, this new character might be. At least one of them has to be right. One of them is definitely wrong. (Minor spoilers follow.)
He’s a soldier fighting for the Capitol. Readers know that Mockingjay is set during a full-scale war, with the Capitol on one side and District 13 on the other. It’s an easy bet that Knepper will be on the anti-Katniss side. The actor tends to play nasties. His most iconic role was T-Bag on Prison Break. Since then, he had a stint as the Big Bad on the last season of Heroes as the mysterious leader of the cult in Cult, the show about the show about a cult. Forget that last sentence ever happened.
The point is: Knepper gives good Bad Guy Face. Assuming that the Mockingjay movies once again feature scenes centered around President Snow, maybe he’s playing a General in the Capitol army, plotting strategy. Basically, Knepper in Mockingjay=Philip Seymour Hoffman in Catching Fire=Wes Bentley in The Hunger Games. Can’t wait to see his haircut.
He’s a soldier fighting for District 13. It could be that Knepper is on the other side of the war. Although there are some memorable characters in District 13, two Mockingjay movies might require some extra faces in the war room. This seems a bit unlikely, since “Antonius” is a Roman name – and in the Hunger Games universe, people with Roman names all hail from the Capitol.
But it could be that Knepper is being added into the mix as a wild-card character. The back half of Mockingjay sees Katniss join a crew of badasses named Squad 451. The book names several of the characters. But since Mockingjay Part 2 is basically going to be a Squad 451 movie – The Dystopic Dirty Dozen – maybe they felt the need to add in a new character. Maybe Antonius is a Capitol turncoat. You only think he’s a bad guy.
He’s on the TV crew. Casting Robert Knepper to play a cameraman is a bit like casting Vincent Price to play a checkout clerk. But the TV crew members all hail from the Capitol.
He’s Peeta’s torturer. Peeta disappears from the early chapters of Mockingjay, away in the Capitol. What little we hear about his plight sounds nasty. Torture. Interrogation. Room 101-worthy brainwashing. Presumably, “Antonius” can’t be a very big part in the movie, if he’s just now being cast. Maybe he only appears for a scene or two, as the architect of Peeta’s misery. Basically, Knepper in Mockingjay=Jason Clarke in the first scene of Zero Dark Thirty.
He’s Katniss’ father. True, revealing that Katniss was the daughter of a citizen of the Capitol would radically alter the entire Hunger Games mythology. And true, there are so many major plot incidents in Mockingjay that bringing in some father drama would only add to the filmmakers’ headache. And true, Katniss’ father was already played, briefly, by Phillip Troy Linger in The Hunger Games. And true, this idea seems unlikely. But we have to cover our bases here. #AntoniusEverdeen