With the sudden passing of a massive talent like Philip Seymour Hoffman, it almost feels vulgar to discuss what his loss means to his projects. It seems much more prudent to wonder about what his death means to his family, his friends, and the community of artists he was part of. But, unfortunately, part of the void he has left involves wondering what will become of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and Part 2.
Readers of the book are likely aware that his character, Plutarch Heavensbee, was introduced in the second book, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but becomes a major force in the third- on which these next two films are based. Heavensbee is a key figure in the revolution that's at the center of the story. So, what does Hoffman's passing mean to the project? Aside from having to restructure a pivotal, emotional sequence, not much.
A Lionsgate exec had this to say in a chat with The Hollywood Reporter: "We’re all extraordinarily sad. But as it relates to production, it’s going to have no impact. Obviously, we're going to have a couple of work-around issues but the movie will be creatively whole. His performances in both [remaining] movies will be up to the best of his craft. We feel it will be a good tribute to him."
On the major, emotional scene that was set to be shot over the course of the actor's 7 remaining days on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, the exec remained tight-lipped: "Why would I want to give people something to look for two years from now?" But they remain confident that the scene will be resolved in a way that satisfies fans.
Veteran special effects supervisor, Rob Legato- who isn't part of the Hunger Games production, but is in expert in the field- adds: "These days the technology of using someone's likeness is a whole lot easier to do. I won't say you could generate a Philip Seymour Hoffman with all the acting ability, but you could certainly replicate him for a shot or two."
Legato then adds this morbid prediction of how Hollywood could handle sudden deaths like this one, and Paul Walker's last November: Studios may start requiring actors to go through extensive, digital body and facial scans, to create CG versions of them "in case something like this does happen -- and it seems to have happened quite a bit lately."
[Photo Courtesy of FX Guide]
As of this writing, Lionsgate is maintaining that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and Part 2 are moving forward on schedule and will be released on their intended dates: November 14, 2014 and November 20, 2015, respectively.