By Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

The Hunger Games world is abuzz with casting rumors. For those of you who don’t know, The Hunger Games is a futuristic trilogy set in a dystopian version of America, where children are forced to fight to the death on national television. The first in this immensely successful book series, by Suzanne Collins, is now being set to a highly anticipated film, which is expected to rival Harry Potter and Twilight.

We are extremely fortunate to have Gabby Vittoria and Pauline Hughes from The Hob to break down the leading contenders in this heated casting debate. Today, we get one side of Katniss’s love triangle: Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son. If you thought Team Edward vs. Team Jacob was exhilarating, just wait for this epic battle. For those who like nice guys with an edge, he’s your man.

Note: The Hob is one of the top fan sites on the web, and we strongly encourage that you visit their site for more information.

Part I: Katniss
Part II: Haymitch
Part III: Peeta
Part IV: Gale
Part V: Effie
Part VI: President Snow
Part VII: Prim
Part VIII: Cinna
Part IX: Rue
Part X: Tributes
Part XI: The Others

Related: Interview with Tanvi Berwah of Hunger Games Network on the international impact

Alex Pettyfer

Gabby: Dye his hair and make him Gale! It all goes back to the age of actress playing Katniss, though. Alex cannot play Peeta opposite Hailee [Steinfeld]. Maybe he could be Gale, but even that is pushing it. Grade: B-

Pauline: I don’t like Alex for Peeta. Grade: C

Adam: Pettyfer’s career has exploded recently, with castings in I Am Number Four and Beastly. Something just seems off to me about his look, but perhaps he’s more talented than we realize. Still, I think Katniss could do better. Grade: C+

Savanna: Alex Pettyfer definitely does not fit my mental image of Peeta, or the description of Peeta provided in the books. Remember, Peeta is supposed to be somewhat stocky, not tall and slender (in this instance, “stocky” does not mean “chubby”). Pettyfer looks fairly young in this picture, but in others, he appears much more manly. He would only work as Peeta if an older Katniss — Jennifer Lawrence, for example — were cast. But even then, he may not seem youthful enough to be believable as a teen, which I think is necessary for this film. Grade: C-

Liam Hemsworth

Gabby: The Peeta choice is so difficult because [he has] to play well opposite Katniss. When we know who is playing Katniss, then I think I can have a clearer picture in my mind of who he should be. I have to defer to Pauline on this one. Grade: B+

Pauline: I like Hemsworth. I could see him as Peeta. He’s cute and looks about the right age. Grade: B+

Adam: What’s not to like about the name “Liam Hemsworth?” It sounds so stately. If we could cast Miley Cyrus as Katniss (and her alter-ego, Hannah Montana, as the Mockingjay), then there might be another Last Song for them: “It’s a party in the CA-PI-TOL!” In all seriousness, Hemsworth could probably do the trick, but not if Hailee Steinfeld is playing opposite him…that would just be creepy. Grade: B

Savanna: Liam Hemsworth is definitely cute, and he was decent in The Last Song, but he just looks too old for this role. Maybe he could play Peeta at Peeta’s 10-year high school reunion. Sorry, Liam. I do, however, think he would make a fitting Finnick Odair. (For those of you unfamiliar with the trilogy, Finnick is a character that first appears in the second book, Catching Fire.) Grade: C

Hunter Parrish

Gabby: When he smiles, I think of Peeta. He has the boy-next-door thing down! For the age, he really is the best that has been mentioned. Grade: A

Pauline: I honestly don’t know anything that he has been in, and I have never seen him act. He looks about right, although for some reason I’m not crazy about him…but I think that is more a personal thing…so I’ll go with Gabby on her answer for him. Grade: B

Adam: If we thought Liam Hemsworth had a good name, nothing could be more appropriate than “Hunter” for — well — The Hunger Games. He has a versatile background, stretching from musical theatre to straight drama. I’m not sure I buy him as a baker’s son, but from what I’ve heard, ladies worldwide might enjoy his home cooking. Probably the most suitable of the choices so far, I would have no objection to putting a Parrish in the District. Grade: B+

Savanna: I know that Hunter Parrish is as much a fan favorite for Peeta as Kaya Scodelario is for Katniss, but as with the other contenders on this list, he’s more man than boy! I loved Parrish in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening, in which he played a 15-year-old, but he certainly didn’t look 15 then, and he definitely doesn’t look close to 16 now. He’s immensely talented, though, and his steel blue eyes are quite captivating. If only he were 5 or 6 years younger… Grade: C

Picktainment’s Picks

Josh Hutcherson

Adam: Josh Hutcherson is a legitimate actor with a plethora of solid film credits. Whether dazzling audiences as a young child in Little Manhattan (probably his worst-acted role) or portraying the even-keeled son of a dysfunctional family in The Kids Are All Right, he usually brings professionalism to the table. He may not be demonstrative enough and he needs the Draco Malfoy bleach treatment, but overall, a solid selection. Grade: A-

Savanna: Okay, here’s someone who totally looks the part and is the right age! Hutcherson is always great in everything he does, and with his hair dyed blond, he’d be a wonderful Peeta! He just naturally projects an aura of sweetness and wholesomeness, which are definitely Important Peeta Qualities. Grade: A

Lucas Till

Adam: Imagine Peeta and Gale in a music video. Peeta writes love notes on cardboard and holds it up to Katniss’s window, but she hangs out with Gale instead. “He’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers” turns to “he’s a hunter and I bake cakes.” Admit it: you can see Lucas as Peeta. Grade: B+

Savanna: Lucas Till could absolutely work as Peeta with an older Katniss (perhaps, for example, Jennifer Lawrence, his co-star in the upcoming X-Men: First Class). Admittedly, I haven’t seen him in anything other than Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” video, so I’m not sure what his acting range is like. I like his look, though. Grade: B-

 

Regarding Lachlan Buchanan…

Our friends at The Hob recently did a fantastic feature on Lachlan Buchanan, an actor and Hunger Games fanatic who has said he would like to audition for the role of Peeta. We strongly encourage you to read their report and let them know what you think.

Adam Spunberg is a senior writer at Picktainment and founder of the Austen Twitter Project. Email him at adam@picktainment.com or tweet @AdamSpunberg.

Savanna New is an associate editor at Picktainment. Email her at savanna@picktainment.com.