‘Mockingjay’ director on the Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute that didn’t make it in the film

11.19.15 2 years ago

Seeing as Jennifer Lawrence is not only one of the greatest acting talents of her generation but our millenial messiah, it's no surprise that only one take was needed for the actress's big emotional scene at the end of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.” 

“We talked a lot, we prepared, we weren't sure what was gonna happen,” director Francis Lawrence told me at the film's recent press day in Berlin. “We weren't trying to force anything. And she went for it. We got as ready as we could in terms of camera placement and all that, and she went for it, and that was all we needed. And I wasn't gonna put her through that again.”

“Mockingjay's” final reel is a surprisingly moving experience; indeed, another third-act scene involves the reading of a letter written by Plutarch, the rebellion leader played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Perhaps with the knowledge that the man who played the character is no longer among the living, the moment plays somehow as a subtle tribute to the actor, who had two scenes left to complete before dying unexpectedly last February. In fact, the scene was originally filmed as a more direct eulogy.

“We used to actually even have extra dialogue,” said Lawrence, who told me he refused to “fabricate some kind of performance” to complete Hoffman's remaining scenes. “We wanted it to feel like a tribute to him in a sense. And we had additional dialogue that was a nod to Plutarch, but if you were really listening, it was a nod to Phil. And we ended up taking it out, because it sort of was changing the meaning, the thematic meaning, of what that scene was. But yeah, there's a feeling there. And I think it's partially because both Jen and Woody [Harrelson] knew that there was an element to it that was a tribute to Phil, so maybe some of that's still kind of coming through.”

For more from Lawrence, including what he thinks of the “YA” label and which scene was his favorite to film over the course of the franchise, watch the full interview above and below.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” is in theaters tomorrow.

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