How Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death Changed The Hunger Games

Furious 7 isn’t the only production that had to scramble to stay afloat in the wake of the passing of a key cast member. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as you’ll likely recall, died of a drug overdose earlier this year with but a few weeks of shooting left to do on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. As audiences prepare for the opening of the first half of this sprawling adaptation, the crew is opening up about how they coped with Hoffman’s death… and kept the movie on track.

Director Francis Lawrence sat down with Empire Magazine (via Yahoo) to discuss the blow The Hunger Games: Mockingjay felt after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing. The actor was scheduled to film the day after he died, and after a brief shutdown, Lawrence said the production half-heartedly resumed. "You could hear a pin drop that first day back… We all gathered and said something about him and for him. It was tough," the director confirmed.

But when it came down to the amount of work Hoffman still had left on the sequel, Lawrence finally clarified:

"He had two substantial scenes left and the rest were appearances in other scenes. We had no intention of trying to fake a performance, so we rewrote those scenes to give to other actors… The rest, we just didn’t have him appear in those scenes. There’s no digital manipulation or CG fabrication of any kind."

That’s interesting. That goes against reports that surfaced earlier this year that The Hunger Games would use digital trickery to recreate the late actor and work him into the scenes he’d miss. The previously mentioned Furious 7 will take a similar shortcut by using some of the late Paul Walker’s siblings to complete scenes. The fact that two blockbusters face similar problems in production is eerie.

The effects of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s loss probably won’t be felt until next year, when The Hunger Games franchise finally wraps with Mockingjay: Part 2. That means we will have similar discussions about the work he did on the franchise, and our chance to say goodbye to this acting titan, a year from now. In the meantime, tell me: Will you go see The Hunger Games because of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s involvement? Were you planning to see it anyway? Or is the loss of this incredible actor too much to bear, forcing you to miss what might be the biggest sequel of the season?

Remember Philip Seymour Hoffman with a taste of what he brought to the Hunger Games franchise in this clip from Catching Fire...

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.