[Update: Hoffman is Confirmed to be playing Plutarch Heavensbee. Scroll down for details.]
After the incredible box office success of The Hunger Games, including one of the most profitable opening weekends in history, it's hardly surprising that Lionsgate is hurriedly moving ahead with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the adaptation of the second entry in Suzanne Collins' dystopian book trilogy.
Now it seems that Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, Moneyball) might lend his considerable talents to the upcoming sequel.
Lionsgate has offered Hoffman the pivotal role of Plutarch Heavensbee, the new head Gamemaker for the annual competition known as "The Hunger Games." Wes Bentley (American Beauty) portrayed the previous Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, in the first installment. However, Heavensbee will likely be a meatier, more nuanced role than that of Crane, if Catching Fire stays even reasonably faithful to the book.
In Mission: Impossible 3, Hoffman made an impression as a truly vile sociopath, so he's obviously got acting chops when it comes to playing villains. Of course, he has also tackled a number of seriously flawed and morally ambiguous characters throughout his career, like Andy Hanson in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and the legendary writer Truman Capote, for which he won an Oscar. Fortunately, Heavensbee is a bit more than your garden-variety antagonist, so Hoffman could have some real fun with the role (provided he signs on). Should he come join the cast of Catching Fire, it's reasonable to assume he will be back as Heavensbee for the trilogy's inevitable conclusion, Mockingjay.
UPDATE: Lionsgate has confirmed that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is taking the role, and that a deal with Lionsgate was reached before the 4th of July holiday:
Lionsgate® and the filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES:CATCHING FIRE are pleased to announce that Philip Seymour Hoffman has been cast in the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games, in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel Catching Fire.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.
Not surprisingly, Jennifer Lawrence will return as the heroine Katniss Everdeen. However, what is somewhat surprising was the decision by The Hunger Games director Gary Ross to quit the lucrative franchise after the success of the first film. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water for Elephants) is taking the reins for Catching Fire, and was selected - at least in part - because his schedule for the fall is relatively open compared to the other candidates that were on the director shortlist.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is tentatively scheduled to hit theaters November 22nd, 2013.