Hunger Games goes on without actor Seymour Hoffman, director says

CANNES France Sun May 18, 2014 8:57am EDT

(L-R) Cast members Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Claflin, Josh Hutcherson and Julianne Moore pose during a photocall for the film ''The Hunger Games : Mockingjay - Part 1'' at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 17, 2014.     REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

(L-R) Cast members Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Claflin, Josh Hutcherson and Julianne Moore pose during a photocall for the film ''The Hunger Games : Mockingjay - Part 1'' at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

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CANNES France (Reuters) - The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman by an accidental drug overdose in February has not sidelined production of the latest installment of "Hunger Games," its director said.

Director Francis Lawrence and the stars of the blockbuster franchise, including Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence (no relation), spoke to Reuters at the Cannes Film Festival.

Seymour Hoffman's sudden death in New York occurred while the latest installment in the blockbuster series, "Mockingjay Part 1" was still being shot.

He played a central role in the film as Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemaker controlling the annual televised fight to the death between boys and girls in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem.

Rather than recasting the role, director Francis Lawrence chose to work on script rewrites to get around the loss of his character.

Seymour Hoffman - who won a Best Actor Oscar in 2005 for his role as Truman Capote in "Capote" - had shot the bulk of his part before his death, Lawrence said.

"He was scheduled for 50 days or so and he had shot about 42 or 43 of those days," Lawrence said. "He had about 8 days left but the meat of his performance was already finished."

"There were a couple of scenes that were pretty substantial which we ended up giving to other actors to take over and obviously although no-one is a replacement for Phil, the story still works."

Big-budget movies that are not competing in the prestigious film festival, such as "Hunger Games", often come to Cannes with their stars to drum up publicity.

The previous two "Hunger Games" films grossed more than $400 million in worldwide box office receipts on their theatrical releases. The books by Suzanne Collins on which the films are based have sold more than 65 million copies in the United States alone. 

(Editing by Alexandria Sage and Angus MacSwan)

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