‘Catching Fire’ Director Explains How He Snagged Philip Seymour Hoffman

Francis Lawrence tells MTV News it took patience, not persuasion, to cast the actor as Plutarch Heavensbee.

As the saying goes, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Fans of “The Hunger Games” movies can take the adage a step further: Don’t hate the tribute, hate the gamemaker.

In the universe of the successful young adult novels, a central figure, the gamemaker, designs the arena and controls the brutal elements striving to weaken the young tributes and draw them together to ultimately fight to the death. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” the second installment in the series, called for a new gamemaker after the untimely demise of Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley).

As it turns out, Philip Seymour Hoffman was the man for the role, stepping up to play Plutarch Heavensbee, master designer of the Quarter Quell in the movie.

Francis Lawrence, who directed “Catching Fire,” told MTV News’ Josh Horowitz in an interview that locking the Oscar winner down for the role took more patience than persuasion.

“We came up with the idea for Phil pretty early on,” Lawrence said. “He was the biggest role to cast and the most important role for the entire series if you think in terms of new additions. He was the first one we went after, but he was in the middle of ‘Death of a Salesman’ and wasn’t really interested in entertaining anything until he was kind of done and wrapped with that.”

To put a cherry on top, Lawrence beefed up Hoffman’s role (most of Plutarch’s action comes in the last installment of the series, “Mockingjay,” which will be split into two movies).

“We did a fair amount of invention with him and [President] Snow [Donald Sutherland], so these are scenes that could possibly have happened in the background,” Lawrence said. “They’re not deviations, they’re additions to the book. Because it’s an antagonist-driven story, it was really important to see the scenes between Snow and Plutarch and to see the two of them kind of plotting and maneuvering.”

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, is in theaters November 22.