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Idris Elba As Chaff In "Catching Fire"?

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 29, 2012 12:14 PM
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Idris Elba

As fans of the franchise likely already know, Lionsgate announced a little while ago that a film adaptation of Catching Fire (a sequel to the film adaptation of box office smash The Hunger Games), would begin principal photography later this year, with November 22, 2013 release date planned.

Star Jennifer Lawrence will return as Katniss Everdeen, with Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) directing, in what should be another hit for Lionsgate, will a myriad of roles to be filled by actors... including a character named Chaff.

I haven't read the series of novels, so those of you who have can chime in with your thoughts on this, as you're more informed than I am.

The character named Chaff from what my research tells me isn't all that big of a part. According to the Hunger Games Wiki, Chaff is described as (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven't read the books):

Male, six feet tall, with dark skin, and an arm that ends with a stump because he lost his hand in the 45th Hunger Games, and he chose not to get a prosthetic one. He was one of Haymitch's "Old Drinking Buddies." During the reaping recaps, Effie Trinket commented that "Chaff never could stay out of a fight," implying that he had volunteered as tribute. Chaff would have been in his mid to late forties when he died. He was killed at the very end of the 75th Games by Brutus at the free-for-all just minutes before Katniss Everdeen destroyed the force field surrounding the arena.

Of course, the emphasis is on "dark skin," although that doesn't necessarily suggest that a black actor would be cast in the role. 

But I should note this sentence that caught my attention on the Examiner's website, which reads:

Idris Elba is being considered in the press release for the part of Chaff.

I'd say take that with a grain of salt, although it's not entirely inconceivable. I'm just not sure what press release exactly the writer for the Examiner is referring to, as I haven't seen this referenced anywhere else. And Idris hasn't mentioned it as far as I know.

Of course, fan sites have their own choices for who should play the part; Ving Rhames name came up. I suppose Chaff is meant to be menacing, as one writer said this of Rhames:

Ving Rhames wins my vote for Chaff, because he plays a good mess of a character yet looks like he can kill someone.

Ok then. I'm sure Ving would love to hear that.

Other writers gave thumbs up to Michael Clarke Duncan for the part. Although both he and Rhames are a bit older than the character is described.

Ok Hunger Games experts, take it away...

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  • Somerset | May 30, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    Just because Chaff isn't the biggest draw in Catching Fire, but he isn't a sideliner either. He has an alliance with Peeta and Katniss along with some other characters. I think Elba should take the role. Just because the character seemed a bit small in the book doesn't mean it will be the same in the movie. In the Hunger Games President Snow was more looming and present than it was in the book (we really didn't get a proper introduction of him until the first chapter of Catching Fire).

    Except for Katniss and Peeta all of the other characters in the arena will be over 18 which means what for this movie? More violence that won't have to be shaky cutaways and it can still get a PG-13.

    Besides, if Elba can play Heimdall in Thor and he wasn't seen for that long on screen I am sure he can do this (which is going to make a lot of money next year) and will have more screen time this go round.

  • t.g. | May 30, 2012 12:47 AMReply

    There are some half-literate, book-skimming, reading comprehension failure White kids gonna lose what little minds they have if Elba...*or* Rhames, are cast in this part.
    Eff 'em if they can't read.

  • Miles Ellison | May 29, 2012 10:48 PMReply

    Casting a black person in a role for a character described as dark skinned in the book is only going to piss off the illiterate racist white teenagers that made these books so popular.

  • Wanett | May 29, 2012 1:48 PMReply

    As an actor, I guess having the HG on your resume can't really be a bad thing. But this role doesn't have much to it. The part of the story where Chaff is featured will likely be cut or severely chopped based on what was left in and taken out of the first movie. That he is friends with Haymitch is kind of an important point of the story because the tributes returning to the arena was unprecedented and Hatmitch was friendly with, or at least knew, everyone. But these nuances are hard to convey on screen at times. Having said that, I think MCD might be too big for the role. I don't know that I would believe he was killed in the free for all at his size.

  • Geneva Girl | May 29, 2012 1:44 PMReply

    The character would be anywhere from 42 to 48. I could buy Idris in this, but the character, like most, doesn't last too long. I'm more curious who would play Seeder, the other tribute from District 11. She's described as 60 with olive skin, dark hair and golden eyes. Since we rarely see physically-fit black women of that age in movies, I'm curious how she'll be cast. She could be a myriad of backgrounds with that description.

  • Wanett | May 29, 2012 3:21 PM

    If they decide to be lenient with matching the physical description, I could see Angela Bassett or Viola Davis in the role. They are both fit and seem strong and tough. I always thought they should be cast in more ass kicking roles.

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