Catching Fire doesn't release until Thanksgiving of next year, way too long as far as many fans are concerned. Casting for the sequel to The Hunger Games is underway, and there have been some juicy announcements lately.
Today, Philip Seymour Hoffman joined the cast to play Plutarch Heavensbee, the replacement gamemaker, or overseer of the annual televised, fight-to-the-death games. His role is significant and lasts through the third book (which will be made into two movies). Hoffman's participation reminds me of how the Harry Potter films tackled casting. Both "children's" releases cast well-regarded actors in the adult roles, instead of just filling those slots with unknowns. Hoffman joins Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Toby Jones (who also had a role in the Potter series), all of whom are reprising their roles. Without giving too much away, Hoffman's character has a secret. Although far from the gravity of his "did-he-or-didn't-he" role in Doubt, I'm sure some of the acting skills he deployed in that movie will be at work in this role.
Jena Malone, who I still remember best from her role in Donnie Darko, has also officially joined the cast of Catching Fire. Malone plays Johanna Mason, a tough victor who is absolutely ruthless but also a sad figure. People in the Capitol have killed all of her loved ones, so she has no one left. Katniss and Johanna share many scenes together. Reading the book, I thought of Johanna as being much older than Katniss, so this casting is something of a surprise for me.
There are still notable roles left to be cast in Catching Fire, including Finnick Odair, who has a bittersweet life story not dissimilar from Johanna's. Rounding out the list of notable Tributes in the second film is the scientifically inclined duo Beetee and Wiress and 80-year-old Mags. With so many talented older actresses in the film business, that's one announcement I'm particularly looking forward to.