Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

Bailey Smith, Staff Writer

On February 2nd, 2014 the talented actor and academy award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away in his New York apartment. The news spread like wildfire and Hoffman fans everywhere were heartbroken.

Hoffman won an Oscar for his 2005 portrayal of Truman Capote and had since acted in many films like Mission: Impossible III and Moneyball. Most recently, Hoffman brought Plutarch Heavensbee to life in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which premiered this past November. Many Hunger Games fans thought Hoffman was perfect to play the role of Plutarch Heavensbee and are crushed that he will not be able to finish his work in the last two Hunger Games installments. Or will he?

The third installment of the Hunger Games film series is set to premier this November. Many fans speculated that the production of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 would be postponed to give the cast time to grieve and decide what should be done about Hoffman’s character. Something similar was done earlier this year when actor and singer Cory Monteith passed away in July – the production of the popular television show Glee was postponed for roughly one month to give the cast members time to process their loss and to give the producers time to decide what was to be done about Monteith’s character.

However, movies are different than television – too much money is riding on the release of the 3rd movie in the Hunger Games franchise to postpone it, and so, producers have decided that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 will still be released on its planned date, November 21, 2014.

“We’re all extraordinarily sad… But as it relates to production, it’s going to have no impact,” a Lionsgate executive said. “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.”

Because the production of Mockingjay will not be delayed, fans are wondering: what is to be done about Plutarch Heavensbee? Will they leave the film as is and work Heavensbee out of the end of Mockingjay? Or will they find some way to stay true to the books and keep Heavensbee present throughout the remainder of the story?

Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 were filmed one after the other, regardless of the fact that their release dates are roughly a year apart. According to Lionsgate Entertainment, Hoffman had finished his work necessary to complete Mockingjay Part 1 – which is why the release date of this film will not be affected. However, Hoffman still had one major scene left to film in Mockingjay Part 2; there were only seven days left of filming.

Producers are now contemplating what they will do about Hoffman’s character. Because there was only one scene left where Hoffman was needed, producers are deciding if it would be wise to take him out of the scene – which would deviate from the books storyline. Thus far, the Hunger Games movies have stayed relatively close to the books and the producers do not want to upset fans by drastically changing the plot by doing something extreme like killing off Plutarch Heavensbee.

Lionsgate executives have reassured fans that they have “confidence that filmmakers can complete the movie in a way that will satisfy fans.” Visual effects supervisor, Rob Legato has extensive knowledge regarding special effects, and while it hasn’t been confirmed whether or not he will be working with Lionsgate to complete the Hunger Games films, he has suggested an interesting option filmmakers could use to complete Hoffman’s remaining scene. Due to the advancement of technology in the past few years, Legato believes it would be quite possible to generate a computerized image of Hoffman in order to complete his final Hunger Games scene.

“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 said. “Technology is most likely good enough to generate a convincing image of Hoffman”.

Creating an animated version of Hoffman is an interesting idea, and maybe even a little shocking. The ethics of this option are questionable and there are varying opinions regarding this idea. On the one hand, creating a digital version of Hoffman could be construed as disrespectful given the fact that it wouldn’t really be him. On the other hand, it could be seen as a tribute to him – allowing Hoffman to complete his final film.

Whatever the filmmakers decide to do, fans are confident that it will do Hoffman justice. While there has been a lot of talk about Hoffman’s tragic and untimely death, it’s more important to focus on how he lived and to revel in the many great works Hoffman contributed to the film industry. Many actors and singers are judged on their personal lives and people forget to focus on what’s really important: their craft. The jobs of entertainers are to entertain their audience with their work, not with their personal lives – and they should be judged on their performances alone.

Hoffman was a tremendous actor, and his absence will be felt in the movie industry. But his works will live on, and people will remember Hoffman fondly for his incredible talent.