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CG model to replace Philip Seymour Hoffman in Hunger Games

February 7, 2014 10:16pm
The movie-going world is still mourning the death of Oscar-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Though it might seem inappropriate to even think about how this tragedy will affect his film projects, such as the eagerly-awaited “Hunger Games” two-part finale, the show, as they say, must go on.
In last year’s blockbuster, “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, Hoffman played Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee. As readers of the books will know, and as hinted at by the end of the movie, Heavensbee will have a major role to play in the events of the next two films. And while all of Hoffman’s parts in Mockingjay: Part 1 have already been captured, he still had a week’s worth of filming to do for Mockingjay: Part 2.
Apparently Hoffman had one crucial, emotional scene left to film. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, however, Lionsgate confidently stated that the production of the movie will proceed in a satisfactory way, even without Hoffman.
“We’re all extraordinarily sad,” said a Lionsgate executive. “But as it relates to production, it’s going to have no impact. 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.”
As for the nature of the unfilmed sequence, Lionsgate was tactfully evasive about it. “Why would I want to give people something to look for two years from now?” said the executive.
Another source attached to the film said that the studio seems “to have plans that don’t seem very complicated” to complete both films despite the actor’s absence. They then dropped a hint about how the filmmakers plan to work around the issue of the unfinished scene: “You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you’re not focusing on him (Hoffman) but the people he’s talking to,” they said.
The magic of CG – an appropriate tribute?
Rob Legato, who recently worked on “The Wolf of Wall Street”, is a special effects veteran and expert. Though he is not connected to the Hunger Games films, he believes current technology is capable of producing convincing, computer-generated images of Hoffman.
“These days the technology of using someone’s likeness is a whole lot easier to do. 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,” he said
Legato then went on to predict that Hollywood would eventually require actors to go through comprehensive digital facial and body scans for the purposes of recreating their likenesses in CG, “in case something like this (an actor’s death) does happen – and it seems to have happened quite a bit lately.”
Hollywood has employed the wizardry of computer-generated imagery (CGI) before to bring life-imitating digital models to the screen.
For example, using facial scanning and advanced 3D technology, visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) built extremely life-like digital models of Mark Ruffalo for 2012’s “The Avengers”.
The same technology was used to bring back a youthful Arnold Schwarzenegger for his T-800 cameo in “Terminator Salvation”. 
Jeff Bridges was given the same CGI treatment when he appeared as his younger self in the form of “Clu” in 2010’s “Tron Legacy”.
Time will tell how the studio will resolve the issue of Hoffman’s absence in the unidentified Mockingjay scene, but for now, it seems the best bet is for them to go the CGI route. As morbid as it sounds, Mockingjay is in relatively good shape, especially when compared to “Fast & Furious 7”, the production of which was shut down after the death of lead actor Paul Walker last November.
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is expected to be released on November 21, 2014, while Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 will be on November 20, 2015. — TJD, GMA News
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