Francis Lawrence has opened up about the “fantastic experience” of working with Philip Seymour Hoffman on The Hunger Games, explaining the late actor taught him a lot.
Philip joined the franchise for 2013’s Catching Fire and his appearance in the upcoming final movie, Mockingjay – Part 2, was his last role before his death in 2014. Director Francis can vividly remember the effect the news Philip had signed up had on the cast, who were all ecstatic to have him on board.
“It was definitely a privilege, it was an incredible experience,” he recalled to heyUguys.com. “I think we all, and I can speak for all of the actors, even including Donald (Sutherland) who’s a real veteran, we were all so excited when he joined the franchise. He worked for about three weeks on Catching Fire, we just kind of got to know each other, he really loved how that turned out and then he had much more to do in the Mockingjay movies. It became a lot of fun and he was around other people he was familiar with. He’d worked with Julianne (Moore) a bunch, so being around her was fun, he’d gotten to know Jen (Jennifer Lawrence) from the movies, so the dynamic was great and I learned a tonne from him. He was so good at working scenes and relationships and figuring things out, he loved to talk and rehearse, so it was a fantastic experience.”
Making the final instalment of the franchise wasn’t without its challenges, as Francis had to make sure it was suitable for children but also didn’t shy away from the themes of war and hardship. This is why many young people became so obsessed with the books, by Suzanne Collins, the franchise is based on – they liked that they weren’t patronising. In order to keep that spirit alive, the director came up with ways to hint at what was happening without resorting to on-screen violence.
“I knew there would be restrictions, so what I decided to do was find the artistic choice up front,” he explained. “We still had some back and forth with the ratings board, but for the most part it wasn’t that I had to pull out or clean up a bunch of blood we were using… I knew things would be shrouded in smoke, I knew some things would be implied.”
– Cover Media