President Snow of 'Hunger Games': The new Voldemort
05:00 AM, Nov 21, 2013
When a character consistently inflicts evil in a blockbuster movie franchise, as Donald Sutherland’s President Snow does in The Hunger Games, juicy comparisons to other iconic on-screen baddies inevitably ooze from the sewer.
“He is our Voldemort, that’s for sure,” says The Hunger Games: Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence of his main villain, who steps into an even more prominent role in the second installment of the franchise, which opened this weekend.
President Snow has a nose, which Lord Voldemort lacked in the Harry Potter series, and Snow doesn’t possess the Dark Lord’s magical powers. But he has brutal soldiers to do his bidding to keep the unjust social order in the totalitarian nation of Panem.
The villainous comparisons are very much in order, since Snow and Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) will battle each other throughout the franchise’s four movies in the same way that Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) opposed Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) through eight screen versions of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novels.
“It’s hard not to compare them. They are the ultimate source of the evil in both mega-franchises,” says Keith Simanton, managing editor of film site IMDb.com. “And they both really love their power.”
The potential fellowship and rivalry doesn’t register with Sutherland, however, who says he based his character on various despots from history. “Voldemort, who is he?” he asks when his counterpart is mentioned. “I’m afraid I didn’t watch that series.”
The folks on the Harry Potter dark side have respect for Sutherland’s portrayal, however.
Sutherland “has the menace, he has the stature and the gravitas,” says Jason Isaacs, who starred as the dreaded Lucius Malfoy in the Potter series.
But that’s as far as he is willing to go. Isaacs doesn’t believe anyone can touch his own franchise for pure badness.
“Comparing the two is a reach too far,” he says. “There is a glass ceiling on villains. And when they look up, they can see Harry Potter’s shoes.”