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Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) is the star and producer of Joseph Kahn’s R-rated horror-time-travel-comedy Detention that will enjoy its world premiere this evening at SXSW. Detention, a slick-looking confection that pays homage to Scream as well as John Hughes’ greats like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, is one of the many buzz-heavy films riding into the festival hungry for distribution. Set in Grizzly Lake, a bubble of a suburb where high schoolers are obsessed with only their own little worlds, Hutcherson plays effortlessly cool kid Clapton Davis. “He’s the guy everybody wishes they were, who I wish I was,” says Hutcherson. “He gets all the girls. Nobody hates him because he gets along with everybody, except for the school jock because he stole his girlfriend inadvertently.”

Eighteen-year-old Hutcherson looked a little bleary-eyed in Austin. He’d just returned the night before from a 10-day shoot in Cuba for Benicio Del Toro’s directorial entry in a series of shorts called Seven Nights in Havana. He’s next attached to star in Neil Patrick Harris’ directorial debut Aaron & Sarah, an indie relationship comedy co-starring Emma Roberts about the shifting chemistry between two high school friends, which is tentatively scheduled to start shooting this summer. In the meantime, he’s waiting with bated breath along with the rest of young Hollywood for casting news on The Hunger Games. “I love Peeta,” he says of Katniss Everdeen’s dependable ally in Suzanne Collins’ riveting trilogy. “The character is so much who I am—self deprecating, a people person. And he’d be such a great character to play! Like in the third book? Oh my God.” (We’ll spare the uninitiated spoilers. But trust him; the character’s evolution would take an actor interesting places.)

Hutcherson reports that he’s read an old version of the script and has since had meetings with director Gary Ross. “But they’re meeting a lot of people right now,” he says. “One can only dream.”

Detention premieres this evening at SXSW.

The Hunger Games
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