The creative minds behind The Hunger Games film franchise are in agreement: Philip Seymour Hoffman was simply irreplaceable.
The Telegraph reports that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Parts 1 and 2, will be the final screen appearances for the Oscar-winning actor, who died in New York of a heroin overdose over the weekend at 46.
Hoffman made his first appearance in the second Hunger Games film, Catching Fire, in which he chewed up the scenery as Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemaker who commands the rebel forces of the impoverished District 13.
And as readers of the Hunger Games books already know, the Heavensbee character takes on an increasingly significant role in the story in the forthcoming final two films in the series.
On Sunday, the studio behind the Hunger Games films, Lions Gate Entertainment, issued a statement saying, “Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation. 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.”
There was also a joint statement from Games’ author Suzanne Collins, director Francis Lawrence, producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and actress Jennifer Lawrence.
The statement: “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. Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”
According to reports, Hoffman had seven days of filming left on the second part of the Hunger Games film.
Although Lions Gate has not yet issued a statement on how they will fill in the blanks from the actor’s final week of shooting, the release date for part two remains unchanged, which strongly suggests that Plutarch Heavensbee will not be recast.
At the time of his death, Hoffman was also working on a TV cable drama titled Happyish for the Showtime cable channel. Hoffman was both executive producer and star of the series in the role of Thom Payne, a disaffected, self-loathing creative director at a New York ad agency.
At the time of his death, only a pilot episode for Happyish had been produced. A Showtime source told E! News that the project was “unlikely” to continue.
All of which speaks to the uniqueness of Hoffman’s acting ability. In the cases of both the Hunger Games and Happyish, what actor could ever possibly fill his shoes?
And it’s been that way for a long time.
Clips of Hoffman’s first filmed performance have surfaced and his acting prowess is evident in a first-season episode of the venerable crime procedural Law & Order, which first aired way back in 1991.
In the episode titled The Violence of Summer, Hoffman, credited as Philip Hoffman, plays a sulky young thug named Steven Haunuer, who has been charged with gang rape.
In the same episode, Samuel L. Jackson plays a defense attorney and Canadian actor Gil Bellows shows up as one of Hoffman’s friends.
But it is Hoffman, by then a skilled and energized stage actor, who commands attention. In his first appearance, he shows up at his arraignment and enrages another defendant with a finger-wagging burst of anger.
In another key scene, Hoffman’s hair has been tousled and he lets his large hands convey the emotions of the moment.
Toward the denouement of the episode, Hoffman and a fellow criminal are tricked by detectives Greevey and Logan (George Dzundza, Chris Noth) into implicating one of his co-defendants and himself. His merged expression of disbelief and rage were to later become a Hoffman acting trait.
And as in most of Hoffman film portrayals, it is literally impossible to take your eyes off him.