Update: ‘Hunger Games’ studio, case and crew react to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death

Updated:  A follow up statement on behalf of “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” director Francis Lawrence, author Suzanne Collins, producer Nina Jacobson, star Jennifer Lawrence and the cast and crew of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1 & 2” was released regarding the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“Words cannot convey the devastating loss we are all feeling right now. Philip was a wonderful person and an exceptional talent, and our hearts are breaking. Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

 – Statement from Francis Lawrence, Suzanne Collins, Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik, and Jennifer Lawrence on behalf of the cast and crew of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1 & 2

Original post: This is certainly not the only thing I will be writing today about the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, but since Lionsgate sent out a statement to acknowledge how deeply the cast and crew of the “Hunger Games” movies has been struck by the passing of Hoffman, we wanted to update fans about what they can expect from the final two films in the series.

It can never be easy for a filmmaker to think of practical considerations when they are still grappling with the overwhelming grief that comes from losing someone. When I saw Francis Lawrence at a small gathering just before the release of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” one of the things we talked about what the role played by Hoffman in the film.

In particular, I was struck by what a canny challenge it was for a performer to play the role the way Hoffman did. For the majority of the running time, Plutarch Heavensbee seems to be the bad guy, or at least one of them. He’s the guy in charge of the games, and he seems to be deeply complicit in trying to not only kill Katniss Everdeen, but to also discredit her and to destroy her as a symbol.

It is only in the final moments of the movie that you realize that he’s been playing a role in all of his dealings with President Snow, and that he is part of the rising revolution. I told Lawrence that I found it an exciting prospect to think that we, the audience, haven’t really met the “real” Heavensbee yet, and that I was excited to see what Hoffman would do with the role. Lawrence lit up and told me what a thrill it was to build the character with Hoffman, and how amazing it was to see the difference between his work in “Catching FIre” and the work he was already doing for the “Mockingjay” films.

Evidently, there was about a week’s worth of work left for Hoffman to do on the second “Mockingjay,” so he will still have a major presence in the two upcoming movies. I’m sure it will be a while before the studio knows exactly what they’re going to do to handle the last few scenes. For now, the only statement they’ve made is this:

“Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation.  We’re very fortunate that he graced our Hunger Games family.  Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send  our deepest condolences to Philip’s family.”

I think for audiences and filmmakers and friends alike, this is going to be a very hard one to accept. I am simultaneously angry and upset and deeply saddened at the thought of no more work from this remarkable talent, and I can only imagine the range of emotions his family and loved ones are going through right now.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” will be in theaters November 21, 2014.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” will be in theaters November 20, 2015.