05/07/2012 09:11 am ET

Liam Hemsworth 'Sad' To See Gary Ross Leave 'Hunger Games' Franchise

Liam Hemsworth is "sad" to see Gary Ross leave Panem.

The actor -- who plays Gale Hawthorne in "The Hunger Games" franchise -- spoke to E! Online about Ross' decision to not return for the "Games" sequel, "Catching Fire."

"I'm really sad to see that Gary's not going to be part of the second one," he said. "He did such an amazing job on the first."

Ross officially left the project last month.

"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 in a statement. Lionsgate, the studio producing "Catching Fire," plans on releasing the film in November of 2013.

Last week, the studio officially hired the long-rumored Francis Lawrence to replace Ross, a director Hemsworth is "excited" about working with. Lawrence's previous credits include "Water for Elephants" and "I Am Legend."

Hemsworth is the second "Games" cast member to speak out about the directing switch. Josh Hutcherson previously said he was going to "miss" Ross. How Jennifer Lawrence -- the star of the franchise, who was close with Ross on the first film -- feels about the change remains to be seen.

"Catching Fire" -- which will get a script touch-up from "Toy Story 3" writer Michael Arndt -- arrives in theaters on Nov. 22, 2013.

[via E!]