BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES Interview w/ Max Raphael On Playing Festus Creed (Exclusive)

64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as tribute, and decades before Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes follows a young Coriolanus as he unites with Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th Hunger Games, and battles his instincts for both good and evil.

The movie, which is now available to purchase on digital before hitting Blu-ray later this month, features over two-and-a-half-hours of special features.

When we return to the Capitol in this prequel, we meet Festus Creed, a student of the Academy, who ends up being a mentor to District 4’s Coral in the 10th Hunger Games. He’s portrayed by British actor Max Raphael and, despite being smug and downright horrible at times, Festus is someone fans of this franchise love to hate. 

When we spoke with Raphael earlier this month, we asked what it was like to get into Festus’ obnoxious, often spiteful, mindset. “[Laughs] Yeah, I’ve had that from a few people,” he admitted. “Sometimes, I get dirty looks from people on the street now.”

“I was at dinner the other night and I noticed people a couple of tables over just looking at me with a horrible face and I thought I’d done something really gross to offend them. Then, I realised, ‘Oh no, surely not!'”

“It’s fun to play the villain. I don’t see Festus as a villain. I don’t really believe that he is,” Raphael concluded. “I know there’s no love lost for a lot of people and it was super fun to be able to lean into that slightly camp-y, quite ridiculous Capitol way of being just nasty. Sometimes it’s fun to be nasty!”

Elsewhere in this conversation, we hear from the actor about his experiences working with the likes of Tom Blyth and Viola Davis and get into the head of a character who proves to be one of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes‘ most memorable supporting players. 

You can check out the full interview in the player below (via

0:12 – The fun in playing a rude, obnoxious character like Festus
1:25 – Why he thinks Festus is such a big supporter of the Hunger Games
2:53 – What he enjoyed about working with Tom Blyth and exploring Festus’ dynamic with Snow
3:58 – What he learned from working with Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, and Jason Schwartzman
5:28 – Developing Festus’ relationship with Mackenzie Lansing as Coral
7:30 – The movie’s scale and immersive sets
9:16 – How he believes Festus would fare in the Hunger Games 

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is available to purchase on digital on January 30 and on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on February 13.