Remember when they were casting The Hunger Games? It went like this: Lionsgate announced who would play Katniss, Peeta and Gale, and then Haymitch, President Snow, Effie and Seneca … and then we started to lose interest as they rolled out the tribute announcements. Maybe that’s why they’re going to drag out the process of announcing the major roles in Catching Fire, saving the most anticipated for last. And maybe we should just be happy to hear any kind of rumors that aren’t coming from our own wild imaginations (talking to you, Robert Pattinson as Finnick stories). According to Deadline, and this tweet from blogger @TheInSneider, Philip Seymour Hoffman has been offered the role of Plutarch Heavensbee.
Taylor Kitsch might be down for fighting aliens in John Carter or…well, fighting more aliens in Battleship, but he apparently won’t be donning a skimpy golden fish net as tribute Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games‘ sequel Catching Fire. “Not going to happen,” he replied to Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman in response to the rumors. Luckily, the casting notice for Catching Fire we spotted earlier this month read “Finnick Odair, male, mid-20s, very handsome, tall, tan skin, bronze hair, green eyes,” so that only leaves…oh jeez, virtually every young actor in Hollywood.
Well, except Robert Pattinson, of course. “I was kind of curious for a second. So I called my agent. My agent was like, ‘No.’ [My agent] was like, ‘No one’s going to offer you that part.’ I was like, ‘Thanks for the reassurance,’ ” the Cosmopolis start told MTV this week. Meanwhile E! Online reported that the casting had been whittled down to Armie Hammer, Garrett Hedlund and Kitsch, and a vocal group of fans has been hyping Cabin In The Woods star Jesse Williams as a possible casting pick. What do you think? Who do you want to see wielding a trident on the big screen next year?
[Photo: Getty Images]
Hate to admit, but we’re kind of with TMZ on this one: It is just a wee bit disappointing to learn that Josh Hutcherson didn’t break his nose in a dramatic Hunger Games arena re-enactment, in a street fight to protect a damsel in distress, or in some kind of rough sport accident.
“It’s a deviated septum. I was born like that. I was 90 percent blocked in my right nostril and stuff,” he told the gossip site’s cameraman while walking in Beverly Hills yesterday. “I just gotta get it healed up and everything.”
This kind of contradicts what he tweeted last week about recovering from a broken nose, doesn’t it? Or, maybe he just meant that they had to break his nose to fix it? Well, we hope that while the surgeon was helping Josh breathe, he didn’t do anything to “perfect” his schnoz. That tiny bump gives him character!
When Josh Hutcherson was snapped leaving a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s office yesterday afternoon, with a bandaged, swollen nose, we knew that he wasn’t getting that adorable mug tweaked for vanity reasons. He’d tweeted about breaking his nose last Wednesday. But because he hasn’t yet revealed how he broke it, fans and bloggers, like our pals at Crushable, have been forced to come up with some wild theories. This morning, we came up with our own, based on news via The Hunger Games Examiner that audition info has been posted for Catching Fire.
Our wild theory? There are some over-eager Finnick and Johanna wannabes out there, ambushing Hunger Games fans in hopes of gaining the attention of director Frances Lawrence for the sequel. No? We are crazy and trying to link everything in Hutcherson’s life to Peeta? You got us there.
Aaaanyway. On the Acting-Auditions.org, a notice lists the tributes that will be cast in L.A., noting that extras and stand-ins will be hired in North Carolina, where shooting will begin this summer (so the site says, but Lionsgate’s most recent press release said fall).
Obviously, things are complicated in Hollywood when you’re handing a super-successful movie franchise over to a new director. We get that. Still, when we saw Lionsgate’s press release announcing the Francis Lawrence would be directing the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, we scratched our heads a bit. This news was all but confirmed two weeks ago! You have to start filming VERY SOON! What have you been waiting for? CAST FINNICK ALREADY!
Err… Sorry about that little outburst. I mean, if we’re feeling anxious about this, imagine how poor Francis Lawrence feels. Well, officially, he’s feeling pretty good. Here’s what he said in the press release: “It is truly an honor and a privilege to bring Catching Fire, the second chapter of Suzanne’s beloved trilogy, to the big screen. I fell in love with the characters, the themes and the world she created and this chapter opens all of these elements up in such a thrilling, emotional and surprising way. I can’t wait to dive right into it and bring this chapter to life along with the truly superb cast and filmmakers involved.”
And here’s what producer Nina Jacobson had to say about him: “From my first conversation with Francis, I knew he would make a great partner for both me and Suzanne. His passion for Catching Fire and inspired ideas for a faithful adaptation make him the perfect director for this movie. I know this will be a wonderful collaboration and I cannot wait to get started.”
We can’t wait either. Now get to work! (The releases says production begins “this fall” and the movie release date is still November 22, 2013.)
Related: Catching Fire Director Francis Lawrence: 5 Signs He’ll Do Right By Hunger Games Sequel
5 Ways Josh Hutcherson Can Use His Punk’d Experience To Play Peeta Mellark
[Photo: Lionsgate, Getty Images]
We already think Josh Hutcherson did a great job as Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games, but the kid’s got a lot of work ahead of him still. Catching Fire and Mockingjay are no walk in the park for the baker’s boy. So we’re very glad MTV and Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale took it upon themselves to help him keep his acting chops in shape by targeting him in last night’s episode of Punk’d. Hutch thought he was going out for coffee and lunch with two of his friends, but the friend in the driver’s seat realized their car was being followed and soon they found themselves being interrogated in an LAPD station. Through it all, Josh kept his cool in a way that would make Haymitch proud, even if he may have been freaking out on the inside. Here’s how we think this whole experience can help him enter the arena once more. (Warning: Spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read books two and three.)
1. Josh calmly identifies himself to the 911 operator (Lucy Hale), and doesn’t even mention the fact that the mysterious voice coming from a radio in the car has poked fun of his “dirty, one-size-too-small tank top.” Peeta is also used to being under surveillance and knows not to lose his cool in front of the cameras.
We’re not completely recovered from the loss of Gary Ross as director of The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, due to scheduling constraints (they say). But last night we learned that Lionsgate has decided to hand the reins over to Francis Lawrence, the director of Water for Elephants and I Am Legend, and we are starting to calm down a little bit. No, he doesn’t have the Oscar-nominee pedigree as Ross. And none of his movies have received the kind of critical raves that Ross’ Seabiscuit and Pleasantville did. But his resume, which also includes a ton of amazing music videos (for everyone from Aerosmith to Justin Timberlake to Lady Gaga), contains some solid reassurance that he’ll be able to hold his own with Catching Fire.
1. He can do post-apocalyptic settings. See: I Am Legend.
2. He can do strong ladies wearing amazing costumes in post-apocalyptic settings. See: Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).”
It’s probably a good thing that rumors have been swirling for weeks that Gary Ross would back out of The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. Otherwise we would be reeling from his announcement, made late last night, that he is dropping the project. As it is, we’re still pretty stunned. And Lionsgate is apparently feeling like a jilted bride.
“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire,” Ross said in a statement released to Deadline. “As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.”
Man, we know it takes a lot of time to make a movie, but is this a believable reason? From the time he was named director of The Hunger Games in November 2010 to the movie’s release last month, he had about 16 months. That’s about two months less than the time he has before the November 22, 2013 release date of Catching Fire — and he already has his main cast in place. But Ross is sticking to that argument, saying that “contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.”
First Hunger Games director Gary Ross wasn’t going to direct the film’s two sequels; now he might be back on board…maybe? While Ross’s fate is still unclear, at least one person is dead set on having him return for Catching Fire. “I think Gary’s the man,” Josh Hutcherson proclaimed at an L.A. press day for his upcoming horror comedy Detention. “Gary is in my mind is the only one that could ever direct the second one. That’s what I’m sticking to.” Good call, Josh! Plus if Gary does return for the sequels, you won’t be punished with the smallest trailer and an added tracker jacker attack sequence. Smart thinking!
As for who Josh would not want behind the camera, Detention director Joseph Kahn seems to have made the list. “I think it would be a very different movie than the first movie if Joseph directed the second Hunger Games,” Hutcherson claimed. “It would be crazy.” Hmm, but can you imagine those muttations in the hand of a crazy director…? What do you think, HG fans? Is it Ross or bust? Did you love Gary’s vision so much, you’d “eat the berries,” so to speak, if he left the franchise? And by “eat the berries,” we mean wait to see Catching Fire on DVD?
While it did allow us to make that truly excellent title joke, we are not pleased with this news. While today we got the good news that Fox and Lionsgate worked out a filming schedule under which Jennifer Lawrence will be allowed to kick mutant/futuristic butt in both the X-Men: First Class sequel and the follow-up to Hunger Games, it appears that rumors we heard yesterday are true: HG director Gary Ross won’t be returning for Catching Fire. According to Indiewire, Ross has allegedly “exited the franchise.” The site claims it’s a matter of interest rather than one of salary; Ross was supposedly uninterested filming the entire series, which we guess we understand. We get exhausted just watching Katniss sprinting through the underbrush; imagine trying to give her a line read.
All of which makes us ask the question: what direction should the new director take the sequel? Should they go darker, a la The Dark Knight? Keep in mind that the series is already about, you know, a dystopia where children battle to the death for the ruling class’s viewing pleasure. What changes do you hope the director of Catching Fire, whoever he or she may be, will make to the series? Meanwhile, we’re pretty sure we know how they’re going to chose a replacement. Someone better polish up the Cornucopia!