The Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson found out director Gary Ross was bowing out of the sequel, Catching Fire, in the same way that many fans did — he read it in the news.
Hutcherson told EW at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday that he reached out to Ross after finding out he wouldn’t be directing the much-anticipated second-installment of the record-breaking film.
“I called him and I was like ‘Gary what’s up? What’s happening? Tell me it’s not the truth,” said Hutcherson. “I’ve never heard someone sound more dejected on the phone than he was. He was so sad he can’t be doing it.”
Though Hutcherson said he was “sad about Gary not being there,” he explained he’s eager to start shooting Catching Fire and looks forward to working with new director Francis Lawrence, whom he referred to as “extremely talented.”
“I think we’re going to make a good movie nevertheless and I’m excited to see what Francis brings to the table,” said Hutcherson.
Amidst speculation that he was having trouble reaching an agreement with Lionsgate, Ross released a statement earlier this month to explain that he was stepping down from the The Hunger Games sequel due to scheduling issues.
“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule,” Ross said.
A little less than a week later, Lionsgate offered the gig to Francis Lawrence, the director of films including I Am Legend and Water for Elephants.
Catching Fire is expected to hit theaters in November 2013.