Like most people in the 2010s, Tom Blyth was caught up in the hype of The Hunger Games, the book series and film franchise based on Suzanne Collins’s wildly popular dystopian novels.

Each time a new film came out, he would go see it with his mom and sister. But, gazing up at the silver screen, the Nottingham native never imagined that someday he would be part of the story—especially after the epic conclusion to the original series, 2015’s Mockingjay — Part 2, seemed to close the door on the series for good.

Fast forward a few years later, when the rising actor submitted an audition tape for an untitled project that he believed might be a new entry in the franchise. Several callbacks later, his suspicions were confirmed: Blyth had landed a starring role as young Coriolanus Snow in the highly-anticipated Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. “It was surreal getting that call, and knowing that I was going to be in this next installment that sets up the entire world of the films I’d grown up on,” he shares.

To get in the head of the ruthless future president of Panem, the Julliard-trained actor researched the early days of real-life dictators like Mussolini. He also spent time bonding with costars Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, and Josh Andrés Rivera. The group developed a sense of camaraderie that made the otherwise serious movie feel light behind the scenes.

Blyth relates one instance when Snow and Zegler’s character, District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird, were having a romantic moment in a beautiful lake that was actually dingy and gross. “At one point, Rachel got anxious, and so she used my head as a buoyancy aid and … just about drowned me,” he recalls, laughing.

Beyond the prequel, the charismatic 28-year-old leading man is keeping busy. He’s filming season two of Epix’s Billy the Kid, in which he plays the titular Western outlaw. He’s also eager to return to theater when he can. Regardless of his next role, the incisive actor remains motivated by the sense of magic he experienced as a kid, going to the movies with his family. “I always want to tap into that child part of me that looked to acting and thought, ‘Whoa, that’s the most incredible job in the world. You get to play make-believe for a living,’” he says. There’s no doubt Blyth is living his childhood dream—and making his younger self proud.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes premieres in theaters beginning today November 17, 2023.

This story appears in the pages of VMAN 51: now available for purchase!

Photography Nicole Plett

Fashion Michael Fisher

Grooming Nickol Walkermeyer (Plutino Group)

Editors Savannah Sobrevilla / Kala Herh

Photo assistant Dallas Jaggard

Stylist assistant Kira Locke

Location Mas Studio

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