En Fuego! Philip Seymour Hoffman Joins 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

After weeks of rumors, Lionsgate confirms that the Oscar-winning actor will play head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee in the eagerly anticipated sequel

Philip Seymour Hoffman is so hot right now that he's Catching Fire.

Lionsgate confirmed via press release Monday what's been rumored for about a month: that 44-year-old Oscar winner Hoffman will be playing Plutarch Heavensbee in the sequel to this spring's kids-killing-kids box-office smash The Hunger Games.

For those who need a refresher, Plutarch Heavensbee replaces the now-resting-in-peace Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) as the head gamemaker in the second installment of author Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy. And, while Heavensbee is the guy in charge of designing the 75th Hunger Games -- and, thus, responsible for figuring out really inventive ways to make the tributes dead -- there's more to old Plutarch than meets the eye.

We'll leave it at that so as not to spoil anything, but please allow us to briefly comment on Hoffman's casting. In short, it's perfect. You see, Heavensbee is a man of intelligence, authority and -- perhaps most importantly -- complexity, qualities Hoffman has embodied in such films as The Ides of March, Capote and The Savages (but not so much in Along Came Polly). The key is, Hoffman's characters always keep you guessing at exactly what's swimming around just below the surface -- a trait that is at Heavensbee's core.

As for what viewers can expect when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters Nov. 22, 2013, here's a little taste: Following their win in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) embark on a "Victor's Tour" of the 12 districts, during which they sense a rebellion simmering. But when the vile President Snow (Donald Sutherland) announces plans for a very special 75th anniversary Hunger Games (aka the "Quarter Quell"), Katniss and Peeta's future -- and the future of all Panem -- will be irrevocably changed.

Directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water for Elephants), Catching Fire will feature some familiar returning faces, including Liam Hemsworth as Katniss' hunting pal and BFF Gale (this time with a beefed-up role), Woody Harrelson as drunken mentor Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as District 12 PR rep Effie and Lenny Kravitz as Katniss' loyal stylist Cinna.

In addition, a bevy of new characters will also join the fray, including scantily-clad warrior Finnick Odair and fierce femme Johanna Mason (a part that has reportedly -- but not yet officially -- gone to Jena Malone). So let the (casting) Games begin!

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