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The Hunger Games Profiles: Josh Hutcherson

Overheard at a recent Hunger Games screening:
“Where have I seen Peeta before?”
Answer: “Zathura.”
“Yes!”
“Bridge to Terabithia.”
”Of course.”

Josh Hutcherson ... on the red carpet
Getty Images
Josh Hutcherson
Getty Images

Josh Hutcherson may be to some unlearned filmgoers the “where have I seen him?” guy. However, after the release of The Hunger Games, that will likely be a short-lived problem.

Joshua Ryan Hutcherson was born on October 12th, 1992 in Union, Kentucky. His father Chris is an EPA analyst, and his mother Michelle is his assistant. Josh has one younger brother named Connor. As his passionate dreams of acting stemmed back to his wee years, at age nine Josh convinced his parents to move to Los Angeles where one could try and eke a living from such lofty pursuits.

(Examiner Note: How awesome is that? To have parents that believe in your childhood dreams so much that they up and move the whole family to a magical place where your dreams might actually come true. Kudos to Mr. and Mrs. Hutcherson – to those of us for whom, as children, that kind of belief and support was utterly alien, you have provided renewed hope for our species.)

Josh didn’t have to wait long in finding work, with roles in such TV fare as Becoming Glen (2002), ER (2002), and The Division (2003). After a bit part in the indi-comedy American Splendor, Josh returned to making appearances in obscure television films. What they lacked in exposure, they surely made up for in experience.

In 2004, Josh did some voice and motion-capture work on Robert Zemekis’ Polar Express. The following year, he appeared alongside Will Ferrell in the comedy Kicking & Screaming. 2005 was better yet with starring roles in the films Little Manhattan and Zathura (with Kristen Stewart, upon whom the 12-year-old developed a huge crush). Josh was on a roll.

RV (2006), Bridge to Terabithia (2007), Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009) all gave young Josh the experience of having his dreams come true while still in his early adolescence. How often does that happen? After a supporting role in The Kids are All Right (2010), and a return as Sean in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Josh was about to receive the casting coup of his young career.

As a huge fan of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, Josh knew that a film adaptation of the book was coming soon, and further what must be done. Says Josh of this time: “I never really read a character before that I connected with more than Peeta. So, for me, if I couldn't get that job I was like, Well, if I can't play practically myself in a movie, what can I play?”

Josh DID get the part, The Hunger Games (costarring Jennifer Lawrence) shattered records in its opening weekend, and audiences around the world cheered … and then got back in line to see it again.

Of this crazy, over-the-top, surreal Hunger Games experience Josh has had much to say:

“I'm so excited. I love Peeta so much. I think that over the course of the next couple of books, he has so many interesting places to go to, character-wise. I'm ready to dive full-force into it. When I saw the movie actually, it got me energized. Let's go get some cameras! Let's go shoot the second one right now!”

“I put on fifteen pounds of muscle, so that was a lot of eating chicken and a high protein, low-carb diet. Also a lot of heavy lifting and a very different kind of training with an ex-navy SEAL guy who wanted to kill me every time I got with him. In a good way.”

WARNING – SPOILER QUOTE: “For me, in the third book, when Peeta gets brainwashed by the Capitol, that's going to be fun to play. The rest of the time he's very much into Katniss, and for that to get turned around and to play it the other way, that's going to be very exciting.”

On his Hunger Games fame: “We've seen some insane signs: 'Is that a loaf of bread in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?' Funny stuff along those lines. Very original. One just said, 'I will do unspeakable things.' I thought that was very interesting - and mildly terrifying! One of the fans had a poster that said, 'I'm a Peeta-file. That was probably the best one.”

On CATCHING FIRE: “They're still working on the script. They've got to get that nailed down and they want the first movie to come out obviously, not get too ahead of themselves. But yeah, it's looking good. I love the second book a lot as well, so kind of diving into that is awesome.”

Up Next: Before Catching Fire however, Josh will next be seen in the films Carmel, a remake of Red Dawn, and 7 Days in Havana – all to be released in 2012.

When you accomplish this much while still a teenager, the world is truly your oyster. Here’s hoping Josh is an excellent steward of that pearl.

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