Multiple outlets, most recently Entertainment Weekly, are reporting that Lionsgate has offered Phillip Seymour Hoffman the role of Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire. Of course, Lionsgate had no comment on the potential major casting news, but if this were true it would mean that the Hunger Games sequel has secured its first big star.
Up until now, the Catching Fire casting controversy has centered on who will play hunky fishing district tribute Finnick Odair, with anyone from Jesse Williams to Garrett Hedlund pondered. And while that’s a vital role in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, we can’t discount a character like Plutarch. Casual fans may not even remember this guy, and only certain diehards can really appreciate his impact on the plot. But honestly, casting him will be one of the producers’ strongest moves. So, here’s a quick primer. (Spoilers, natch.)
He’s the new Gamemaker. Consider how Seneca Crane was upgraded to such a vital character in The Hunger Games: Lionsgate jumped on the fan interest in actor Wes Bentley and wrote the Gamemaker to be more conflicted than we had observed in the books. Even though we know that he gets executed by the second book, actually seeing that scene in the movie made him more relatable. Now that we’ve grieved Seneca, we’ll be even more attentive when it comes to his successor.
But he’s got a secret agenda. Perhaps the most memorable Plutarch scene from Catching Fire is when he’s dancing with Katniss and discreetly shows her his awesome pocketwatch. Dear Katniss is so overwhelmed with her reality-TV wedding and faux-pregnancy that even when she sees the mockingjay symbol glint on his watchface she doesn’t connect the dots that Plutarch is working with the rebellion. (Don’t even get me started on how he tries to hint at her what form the Arena takes. Come on, Katniss!)
He gets the propaganda angle. Once Katniss and Finnick escape to District 13 in Mockingjay, they meet up with rebellion leader Plutarch. Even as President Coin’s shady ways start to become clear, Plutarch is on Katniss’ side. The two bond in a similar way to her and Cinna as he coaches her through starring in the mockingjay propos. Of course, he also sees the appeal of a far more horrific plan from Mockingjay that I won’t spoil here.
And really, I can see Phillip Seymour Hoffman hitting all of these points! He can play that calculated mix of Gamemaker, ally, and propaganda director; past roles have displayed his range, from foulmouthed best friend to chillingly compartmentalizing priest. Plus, nabbing an A-lister would certainly help offset any nervousness about Catching Fire‘s new director Francis Lawrence.
Sure, there’s also been no confirmation that Hoffman would even take the role, but we’ve got our fingers crossed! In the meantime, listen to this Hunger Games Fireside Chat episode from a few weeks back where we pitch our other ideas for Plutarch. (I suggested Robin Williams, mostly because I’d like to see his daughter Zelda Williams pop in as Johanna Mason!)