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Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson Nearing <i>Hunger Games</i> Roles?

Only two weeks after Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence landed the coveted starring role in The Hunger Games, Lionsgate appears to be zeroing in on its two male leads.

Deadline reports that Liam Hemsworth, younger brother of Thor star Chris Hemsworth, is the rumored frontrunner to play Gale Hawthorne, while former Spider-Man contender Josh Hutcherson is favored to portray Peeta Mellark.

An adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ popular young-adult science fiction trilogy, The Hunger Games is set amid the post-apocalyptic ruins of North America, where children are selected by the government to fight to the death in a televised event. Lawrence will star as Katniss Everdeen, a skilled archer and hunter who ignites a rebellion when she and her teammate and love interest Peeta survive the Games. Gale is Katniss' rebellious and protective friend.

Set for release on March 23, 2012, The Hunger Games is directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) from a script by Billy Ray (State of Play).

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