Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death: Future of Film, TV Projects Left Uncertain
UPDATED: The actor's long-delayed directorial effort "Ezekiel Moss" recently had added Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams to the cast.
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in New York Sunday morning at the age of 46. The actor, who had been at Sundance just two weeks ago promoting two films, had several other projects for both film and TV on the horizon, including his long-gestating directorial project.
Hoffman, who starred as head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee in Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was set to reprise his role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2. The YA adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson has been filming in Atlanta, with both films being shot back-to-back. At the premiere for Catching Fire, director Francis Lawrence told THR that after the Christmas break they would be shooting for three more months in Atlanta before heading to Europe for two additional months of shooting.
Hoffman had completed his work for Part 1, and had only seven days remaining to shoot on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2. Sources say the films' scheduled release dates of Nov. 21, 2014, and Nov. 20, 2015, respectively, will not be affected by Hoffman's death.
Hoffman was getting closer to returning to the director's chair as well (He helmed the 2010 film Jack Goes Boating). On Friday, it was announced that his long-delayed sophomore directorial effort Ezekiel Moss had cast Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams to star.
Exclusive Media had come aboard to handle international rights to the Prohibition-era film, and was planning to launch the project to foreign buyers at Berlin's upcoming European Film Market. On Sunday, Exclusive announced it would not be bringing the project to Berlin, and producers would be re-grouping to explore the next steps for the film in light of Hoffman's death.
"Exclusive Media is deeply saddened to learn the shocking news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing," said a statement. "He was a truly gifted actor and director who not only inspired his fellow colleagues, but audiences around the world and he will be greatly missed. We give our sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time."
From a Black List script by Keith Bunin, Ezekiel Moss follows a widow named Iris (Adams) who runs a boarding house to get by and provide for her spirited son, Joel. They reside in a small town overrun by religious fervor, and their lives are forever changed when she begins to fall in love with Ezekiel Moss (Gyllenhaal), a mysterious drifter who has the divine ability to channel and physically inhabit the spirits of the dead.
Both of the Hoffman-starring projects that premiered at Sundance were bought for distribution. IFC Films bought the John Slattery-helmed God's Pocket, and Lionsgate nabbed Anton Corbijn's thriller A Most Wanted Man.
Hoffman was also set to star in his first series regular TV role. Showtime in January picked up 10 episodes of dramedy Happyish, a dark examination of the pursuit of happiness in which Hoffman starred as 42-year-old Thom Payne, whose new bosses are half his age. His mentor and boss, Jonathan (Rhys Ifans) tells him to "rebrand" himself; his corporate headhunter tells him happiness is a myth; and Thom isn't sure if his Viagra will interfere with his Prozac, or vice versa. Kathryn Hahn stars as his wife.
Sources tell THR that Happyish was in the process of being written, but the series was not in production. The pilot for the series had been filmed. No decisions have been made yet about the future of the series.
Showtime issued the following statement after Hoffman's death: "Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of our generation's finest and most brilliant actors. He was also a gifted comedic talent. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are all absolutely devastated by this sudden loss. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time."
The premium cable network screened an advance look at the pilot for reporters in January at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. The footage largely impressed a room of 200 critics, and Hoffman's work was already generating Emmy buzz, even after critics only saw a few minutes from the pilot. The series, created by This American Life's Shalom Auslander, developed by Ken Kwapis and exec produced by Hoffman, was due to premiere this year. It's unclear how far along the series was in production and if Showtime would recast and move forward or pull the plug on the project completely. (The network currently has no other comedy pilots in production.)
In previewing Happyish, Showtime entertainment president David Nevins said the network courted Hoffman for a long time. "Happyish was a script that I've loved for a really long time, and it took us a while to get to Philip Seymour Hoffman," Nevins told reporters in January. "It was a long process, but we didn’t have to rush, and we could wait and slowly bring him in -- and [it was] totally worth it for the waiting."
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