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September 22, 2023 4 min read


As the actor steps into The Hunger Games’ franchise, he talks us through the career-supercharging role and upcoming Ryan Murphy project.



Trench coat & trousers GIULIVA HERITAGE, vest LUDOVIC DE SAINT SERNIN, shoes TOD'S

“I feel incredibly lucky, like so supremely lucky that I got to be a part of this,” Josh Andrés Rivera says of his recent turn in The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The franchise’s last breakout stars came in the form of Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth following its first four instalments and assuming the role of Sejanus Plinth in the freshly-released prequel, Rivera looks set only to join the roll-call of cinema greats to pass through its ranks.

“I still have moments every so often where I look around and think, ‘Man I’m really here doing this thing. I can’t believe this,’” he continues. “The experience as a whole had a profound impact on me that I will carry with me for a very long time.”

Rivera plays the once-confidant of lead Tom Blyth’s character, tyrannical president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, who faces a turbulent path as one of the few in the capitol to rebel against the morbid games over which Snow governs – that give the series its namesake. Thankfully life in Rivera’s reality is far more optimistic than for Panem’s inhabitants, as the 28-year-old next finds himself at the helm of Ryan Murphy’s American Story: Gladiator, playing the lead role of NFL star Aaron Hernandez. If Murphy’s previous projects are anything to go by, awards success and pop culture ubiquity tend to be in store for its leading men, so we’re just glad to fit in a catch up with Rivera at this pivotal time in his story.  

Sitting down with Man About Town, he talks working with Hunger Games’ director Francis Lawrence, how he compares to his character Sejanus Plinth and why he’d like to try a comedy next…



Hi Josh, how are you doing? Congratulations on the release of The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes! If you could sum up how you’re feeling about the release – what would you say?
I’m doing really well! I feel like it goes without saying, but I’m really excited! I’ve been hyping this thing up to everyone for so long, so I’m thrilled everyone finally has the opportunity to watch and see what we’ve been talking about all this time.

It’s a massive franchise to step into with a very sizeable legacy. What were your initial thoughts when you found out you got the part?
Admittedly it took me a while to process it. Like you said, it is a very sizeable legacy so when I heard I had gotten the part, I honestly couldn’t really believe it. The scope of the whole thing is so great and it didn’t settle in that I was going to be a part of it until about halfway through my flight on the way to Berlin to film.

What was the biggest highlight of making a movie on this scale?
At the risk of sounding cliché, I have to say the people I worked with were my favourite part. Francis Lawrence runs such a wonderful workplace and everyone brought me so much joy and made me feel so lucky and welcome throughout my entire time filming. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone on the cast and crew.

You play Sejanus Plinth in the film. What would you say are the biggest similarities/difference between you and the character?
I think Sejanus is much braver than I am. I very much admire his dedication to doing the right thing in the face of adversity and backlash of his peers. I’d like to think we share a lot of the same values and the need to understand people.

We hear you have some exciting projects in the pipeline! What can you tell us about what fans can expect from you in 2024?
I’m about to get back to working on a Ryan Murphy show surrounding Aaron Hernandez which is a great challenge that I’m really looking forward to. I try to take things one project at a time so I don’t have much else to share beyond that.

What are the biggest things you’re looking for in new parts these days?
I really have enjoyed being able to play such tragic characters. I’ve been fortunate that the parts I’ve been able to play have had so much heart and nuance which is usually something I look for when auditioning. It’s a lot of fun to play parts that have a vast inner life and emotional well to draw off of, because those are the parts that have me learning things about myself that I may not have known before or that had been obscured by self-imposed barriers. That being said I think it’d be nice to switch things up and do a comedy or something with some levity next.

Amidst all the excitement of the projects you’ve been working on, what’s one really boring thing that’s happened to you lately that brought you joy?
I’m working on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for some of my buddies that I went to high school with. This is kind of a new frontier in my nerdhood and I’m having a blast putting it together and making a story from scratch that my friends can participate in.

The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes out now.

Photography by Ben Cope
Creative Director & Stylist Enrique Melendez
Styling Assistant Michelle Thomas
Grooming Abraham Esparza


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