All four installments of Lionsgate Entertainment’s The Hunger Games franchise have been on a tight production schedule with each film arriving consecutively from 2012 - 2015. The final two movies, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and Mockingjay - Part 2, were shot back to back, though production halted when Philip Seymour Hoffman died. The actor portrayed Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and was almost finished filming his scenes for the last two installments.
Following Hoffman’s death, sources close to the production of Mockingjay claimed director Francis Lawrence would digitally recreate the actor for his final scenes in the series. However, now the director reveals that won't be the case.
In an interview on HuffPost Live yesterday, Lawrence discussed the difficulties of picking up the production of Mockingjay - Part 1 and Part 2 in the wake of losing Hoffman. He said that they decided not to use any “digital trickery” to recreate Hoffman’s performance in the films and instead rewrote the script.
Read Lawrence’s full quote:
“He had two scenes with dialogue that were left and we decided we didn't want to try any kind of digital trickery with him, so we rewrote his scenes and gave his dialogue to other actors. So there was one scene from ‘Part 1’ and one scene from ‘Part 2,' so we shot both movies back to back.”
Digital recreation of aged (Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Salvation) or deceased (Brandon Lee in The Crow and Nancy Marchand in The Sopranos) actors has been used over the years to varying degrees of success. Now, certainly, the technology to recreate Hoffman’s scenes is better than ever before.
However, Lawrence said the decision had less to do with the technology and was more about the essence of Hoffman’s performances:
“He was one of the greatest actors, I think, of all time and I just think to try to fake a Philip Seymour Hoffman performance would have been catastrophic and I would never want to do that. I just think this was the best way to be able to get around such a horrible thing.”
As many who have seen Hoffman’s work - whether Capote, for which he won an Academy Award, or any other of his well-received films - can attest, the actor is certainly talented. For those who worried that a digital recreation of Hoffman in Mockingjay would tarnish the actor’s memory, it seems Lawrence is in the same camp.
While book readers may be disappointed by missing the important scene for Hoffman’s character, Plutarch, that the actor hadn’t filmed prior to his death, Lawrence seems to have stayed as true to the original content as possible given the circumstances. The Hunger Games franchise has made changes while adapting the books for film and has largely done a good job.
Although The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and Part 2 will be remembered as Hoffman’s last films and fans will never know what the installments could have looked like had the actor finished filming his scenes, viewers can at least take heart in the fact that a digital recreation won’t distract from the final product or affect Hoffman’s memory.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opens in theaters on November 21st, 2014, followed by Part 2 a year later on November 20th, 2015.
Source: HuffPost Live