Woody Harrelson was ''devastated'' when Gary Ross pulled out of directing 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'.

The 51-year-old actor plays middle aged drunk and winner of the 50th Hunger Games Haymitch Abernathy in the movie franchise, and while he was disappointed to hear the filmmaker wouldn't be starring in the sequel to this year's 'The Hunger Games', he ''couldn't be happier'' with Francis Lawrence taking on the role.

He told HitFix: ''I miss Gary - I love Gary. I was devastated when he fell out but I couldn't be much happier with the replacement.''

Woody believes Francis is a ''really talented guy'' and he is confident the helmer will do a good job after taking over as the movie's director.

He added: ''He's one of those guys who can just come into the room and make his own, you know? He's a really talented guy, as he's proven, and he's really cool to hang out with.''

While Woody's alter-ego regularly enjoys a drink, he recently admitted he wanted the character to be ''more drunk and debauched'' than Gary would allow.

He explained: ''That was kind of a discussion between Gary and I, because I always wanted to make Haymitch more drunk and debauched, but Gary wanted to keep a rein on it so that it wasn't too much like that.

''I am always in general ready to go over the top with it, so it is helpful to have a director like Gary bringing me back.''

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' opens in November 2013.