Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman has steadily built up a reputation for being one of the most talented and well-respected actors in the film industry today, primarily by taking on roles in smaller pictures built around complex characters and serious drama, such as Capote and Doubt - with yet another possible award-contending role in this fall’s indie drama The Master.
Though he’s starred in more commercial films like Charlie Wilson’s War and Mission Impossible: III in recent years, Hoffman has historically shied away from taking on roles in blockbuster films, which is why the recent announcement of him taking on the part of game maker Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, caught some off guard.
Hoffman recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly to shed some light on his decision to join the popular franchise – BUT BE WARNED!!! THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BOTH CATCHING FIRE AND MOCKINGJAY!!!
“I liked the people involved. It’s a great group of actors. It’s a great environment. And the character was something I was attracted to. It was just an interesting role. He’s somebody who’s part of the revolution, but you don’t know it. The idea that somebody would be risking themselves in such an extreme way to join something that’s dangerous because he thinks it’s the future…that’s interesting stuff, you know?”
According to EW, Hoffman hadn’t read the best-selling novels from author Suzanne Collins when he was first up for the role, but he’s halfway through the second book now.
“I’ve read the script, which is true to the book — I kinda ruined it for myself. But I’m reading it anyway, because I really want to find out everything I need to know about this guy.”
Finally, Hoffman touched on the exact issue that initially puzzled fans when word of his casting first broke: Why join an adapted film franchise that will surely be under the microscope of critics and viewers alike?
“Things always pass over, you know? I don’t know what it will be like. But, you know, I’m not playing Katniss. [Laughs] I’m not in high-profile movies in that way too often, so it usually passes. I’m 45. I think it will be all right.”
While Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Liam Hemsworth (Gale), and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) are really meant to drive the films, The Hunger Games franchise has — as Hoffman alluded to in his comments to EW — done a credible job of bringing in well-known actors to fill some of the important secondary roles, including Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket.
Hoffman’s involvement only reinforces that trend, and there’s no real reason to suspect the versatile actor won’t do a respectable job of bringing Heavensbee’s character to life on the big screen. He’s certainly gone all-in with his other roles, even when he’s portrayed goofy characters like Sandy Lyle in the 2004 Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston comedy Along Came Polly. The fact that he’s already commenting on his desire to “find out everything I need to know about [Heavensbee]” should reassure fans that his usual devotion to his characters is indeed in place.
As for those still unsettled over Hoffman’s involvement, it’s worth pointing out that, should he have a less than memorable performance (which is unlikely), it won’t take away from the marvelous work he’s done in the past. And, on the other hand, if the film as a whole is underwhelming, Hoffman could easily emerge as one of the few bright spots, giving fans at least something to look forward to for Mockingjay, in which Heavensbee’s role expands a bit more.
Catching Fire, sporting a film title of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is set for a November 22, 2013 release date.
Source: Entertainment Weekly