“Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation,” Lionsgate, the studio behind the upcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, said in a written statement. “We’re very fortunate that he graced our Hunger Games family. Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Philip’s family.”
Hoffman played head -games-maker-turned-rebel leader Plutarch Heavensbee in the successful series. It is a pivotal role.
In the wake of the actor’s death, questions arose as to whether the uncompleted blockbusters-in-waiting would be completed in time for their scheduled November 21, 2014 for Part 1 and November 20, 2015 for Part 2 release dates.
Hollywood studios have handled the sudden death of cast members in many different ways. In some cases, films are even abandoned.
Production on Something’s Got to Give was shut down permanently after Marilyn Monroe’s August 1962 barbiturate overdose.
Dark Blood, River Phoenix’s final film, was put into cold storage when the young actor died before filming several crucial scenes. But both movies were eventually resurrected. The documentary Marilyn: The Final Days used footage from Monroe’s aborted film while Dark Blood sat for 19 years before being finished and shown at film festivals.
Father and son Bruce and Brandon Lee both died early, leaving behind unfinished films. The elder martial arts legend had completed 100 minutes of The Game of Death when a cerebral edema took his life.
Even more tragically, Brandon was killed on the set of The Crow in an accident involving a prop handgun.
Both films were salvaged with the use of stand-ins.
When Oliver Reed collapsed of a heart attack at a Malta pub after out-drinking a group of Royal Navy sailors, the editing crew of Gladiator replaced him digitally in the remaining scenes of the film.
More recently, Heath Ledger unexpectedly died during the production of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. He was replaced in the surreal story by three actors.
“I just started calling friends of Heath,” director Terry Gilliam said. “It’s as simple as that.”
“Johnny (Depp), Colin (Farrell) and Jude (Law) turned up. It was important that they were friends, because I wanted to keep it in the family. I wanted people who were close to him because, as Colin said when he was doing his part, he was channelling Heath part of the time, so Heath was very much still alive in some sense.
“Contractually, it was supposed to be a Terry Gilliam Film,” said Gilliam. “That’s what the lawyers said, but I said, ‘No way it’s going to be that. It’s going to be a film from Heath Ledger and friends.’ The cast sat around one night and that idea came up and I said, ‘This is it. Perfect. That’s how we do it.’”
As for the upcoming Hunger Games films, reports now confirm that Hoffman completed work on Part 1 and had just seven days left of shooting on Part 2.
His absence will not require any recasting, just a rewrite of one scene. And so Mockingjay Part 2 becomes the final film in Hoffman’s remarkable career.
“Words cannot convey the devastating loss we are all feeling right now. Philip was a wonderful person and an exceptional talent, and our hearts are breaking,” reads a statement released by The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, the films’ director Francis Lawrence, producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and star Jennifer Lawrence.