When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died last weekend, he apparently only had one scene left in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II left to shoot — but it was a major one. So major, it seems, that Lionsgate will be forced to digitally recreate the actor for it.
A source with ties to the project said that with the exception of one major scene in the final film, "they seem to have plans that don't seem very complicated" to complete both pictures without Hoffman. "You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you're not focusing on him but the people he's talking to," this observer said.
Rob Legato, a veteran effects supervisor whose latest credit is The Wolf of Wall Street, says he has no specific knowledge about the Hunger Games films but at this point, technology is most likely good enough to generate a convincing image of Hoffman, though some scenes might need to be rewritten. "These days the technology of using someone's likeness is a whole lot easier to do," he said. "I won't say you could generate a Philip Seymour Hoffman with all the acting ability, but you could certainly replicate him for a shot or two."
Given today's VFX, it honestly shouldn't be that hard to recreate a decent Hoffman; use some previous footage of Hoffman from the earlier films, make some judicious edits, and then maybe an actual 3D model for long shots, if necessary. But as Legato says, there's no way any amount of computers could program the real Hoffman's acting ability, which is a big deal for a major scene. And since his dialogue almost definitely still needed to be recorded, and that's not something that can likely be taken from previous footage, they're going to have to get a sound-alike as well.
Hopefully the scene won't be too awkward, or too noticeable. No matter what, though, it's going to be sad.