Josh Andrés Rivera is reuniting with his West Side Story co-star and real-life girlfriend Rachel Zegler for the upcoming prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Songbirds and Snakes is adapted from the 2020 book by Suzanne Collins, the author of the original Hunger Games series. According to The Wrap, Rivera will play Sejanus Plinth, a friend of young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), who was played by Donald Sutherland in the four movies of the franchise. In the prequel, Snow is the mentor of Lucy Gray Baird (Zegler), a tribute from District 12.
Since February, Zegler has posted pictures of her and Rivera on social media. The couple has also attended the Emmy Awards together. Zegler told Elle magazine in April – without mentioning Rivera’s name – that he has “this deep understanding of what I go through.”
“Since [his experience was] on a different scale, he’s able to bring me back to earth and tell me when it really doesn’t matter,” she said. “Because he’s removed from it to a certain degree, he’s able to just snap me out of it, and tell me to stop checking my phone, or remind me of what actually matters, and remind me to be present, and to not focus on the opinions of 3,000 faceless strangers on the internet.”
In the Oscar-winning Steven Spielberg film, Rivera played Chino, a young man introduced as a love interest to Maria (Zegler) by her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), the leader of the Puerto Rican gang known as the Sharks. Maria’s attention was stolen away by a rival gang member.
In real life, however, Rivera gets the girl. He also gets to star with her in a new movie.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is scheduled to hit theaters on November 17, 2023.