"There were several attempts to write [the screenplay] from the first-person perspective, like the book," he says, "but they found it was more interesting to open up the world that she didn't see in the book, and that's where Seneca comes into play."
Ultimately, director Gary Ross, working with Collins, decided to go with a more omniscient point of view. In the film, Seneca oversees the games - the kill-or-be-killed contest that pits 24 teenage boy and girl "tributes" against one another in a Big Brother-is-watching wilderness environment - from a control room full of giant screens and 3-D tableaux. But even Seneca, the Head Gamemaker, is part of the game, not apart from it.
"He's kind of another contestant, but a contestant that can't lose," Bentley muses. "And he's another obstacle for the tributes, but a human obstacle. And through Seneca, you can see what's going on, and see how all the events in the arena are being effected. . . .
"They're really interesting scenes to see - a cool thing for fans of the books to now be open to, for that to now be revealed. And Suzanne was involved with all of those changes. That all came from the author, as well as Gary."
No spoilers here, but unless there's some wildly creative rewriting of Collins' second and third books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Bentley is not expected to be reprising his role.
But producer Nina Jacobson and Lionsgate have announced a release date for Catching Fire - Thanksgiving 2013. And they've also made it known that Mockingjay, the third installment, will, like the final Harry Potter and Twilight books, be split into two parts.
Blunt words on Krasinski. Although Emily Blunt - in theaters now in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and in theaters soon with The Five-Year Engagement - won't talk about her personal life with The Office'sJohn Krasinski, she's happy to talk about her husband's professional pursuits.
"John has a production company, and he has been quite an inspiration to me," the British actress says, by way of relating her own efforts to be "more assertive" and take control of her career, and the kinds of projects she gets to make.
"John has written this script with Matt Damon, and Gus Van Sant is directing it, and that's kind of amazing - for him to write his first screenplay, and for Gus Van Sant to say, 'I love it, I'm doing it!' "
The project, called Promised Land, is set to start shooting soon in the Pittsburgh area. It's about two corporate types - Damon and Krasinski - and the life upheavals that happen when they drop down on a small town. Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook, and Frances McDormand also star.
So, do Blunt and Krasinski have plans to make a movie together?
"We talk about it," she says. "But I think a certain exposure of your relationship scares me. . . . Particularly if you're doing a romance. . . . It would very much have to be the right movie."
Short subjects. Speaking of shooting in and around Pittsburgh, Out of the Furnace - a Rust Belt drama with Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard - is doing just that. Scott Cooper, who steered Jeff Bridges to his best-actor Oscar win in Crazy Heart, is directing the gritty crime tale, about two brothers and a nasty crime gang. . . . Probably not shooting in western Pennsylvania, but announced by its star, Will Ferrell, when he appeared on Conan this week, is Anchorman 2, the long-aborning follow-up to the 2007 hit comedy about dunderheaded San Diego news anchor Ron Burgundy. (One early, and discarded, scenario had the TV newsman launched into outer space.) No word on the release date for the sequel, but Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner all are expected to return, as are producer Judd Apatow and Malvern native and Temple alum Adam McKay - once again directing.
Book event, bike event, movie stars galore. Forgive the shameless shilling, but the author of this column will be giving a free slide show and talk Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Montgomery Auditorium at the Free Library of Philadelphia, 19th and Vine Streets, to discuss, and sign copies of, Hollywood Rides a Bike (Angel City Press, $20). The new hardcover book features photographs culled from a massive collection of vintage stars on their bicycles. Bogart! Bacall! AudreyHepburn! Katharine Hepburn! Bardot! Connery! Rin Tin Tin! (Yes, the German shepherd, atop a beach cruiser!)
There will be free bicycle valet parking, for those arriving on two wheels. Information: 215-686-5322, or www.freelibrary.org.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.