Before it was confirmed that Gary Ross would not be back to direct "Catching Fire," the second film in the "Hunger Games" franchise, one of the film's leading men, Josh Hutcherson, sat down with MTV News to address reports of the director's departure.
While rumors were at a fever pitch, Hutcherson didn't want to imagine the second film without Ross there to direct it. "I have talked to him. I think Gary's my guy," Hutcherson told MTV News at the "Detention" junket.
With Ross' fate now decided, the young actor only had high praise for the man who directed the blockbuster first film in the series, "The Hunger Games." "I think he's a genius. He's an incredible writer and director, so I'm excited to see kind of what he ends up coming up with for the second one," he said, adding that he had no other names he wanted to toss in the directorial ring if and when Ross shouldn't return.
"No, I won't let myself [say] someone else," he added. "Not until they tell me it has to be someone else. Gary's my guy 100 percent."
Well, now might be the time for Hutcherson to start brainstorming new directors he might want to work with once production kicks off.
In a statement released late Monday when the news broke, Ross addressed the speculation and commended the film's studio, Lionsgate, for giving him the freedom to make the film he wanted to.
"Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct 'Catching Fire,' " Ross said in his statement. "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.
"I loved making 'The Hunger Games' — it was the happiest experience of my professional life," the statement continued.
"Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: They empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And 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.
"I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence, whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends," he continued. "To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand, I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It's been a wonderful experience."
Check out everything we've got on "The Hunger Games."
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