Josh Hutcherson reflects on his biggest roles, from The Hunger Games to Future Man
In less than 20 years of working in Hollywood, Josh Hutcherson has amassed an enviable resume of critically beloved films. Not bad for a 27-year-old guy from Kentucky who never went to acting school. "No one in my family was ever in this industry or anywhere near it, so I was the black sheep in the family," he tells EW. Here, the star of Hulu's Future Man (streaming now) looks back on an extraordinary career of playing sweet, brave, and (mostly) principled characters.
Little Manhattan (2005)
Fans still like to chat up Hutcherson about this romantic comedy that marked a big milestone in his young life. "I had my first onscreen kiss in that film, my first kiss I had ever experienced in my life," he says. "And I did it on a film set in front of an entire crew of people! It was mortifying, if you can imagine."
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
Hutcherson played Tim Robbins' son in this high-concept comedy from director Jon Favreau. Though the experience was terrific, Hutcherson admits it was a hard sell for audiences who didn't quite understand the meaning of the title. "There was an episode of The Apprentice where their challenge was to figure out how to market the movie," he recalls. "One of the teams had a float going through New York saying 'Zathura, Zathura.' It was so strange."
Robin Williams played Hutcherson's father in this delightful comedy about a vacationing family. "He was like the sweetest, funniest, caring guy. He couldn't help himself but to make people laugh. He treated everyone with so much respect and he treated me like family."
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Hutcherson's character befriends a lonely neighbor girl (a terrific AnnaSophia Robb), and together they create a fantasy world to cope with their real-life woes. "I have a lot of people, even to this day, tell me they cried so hard at that movie." That movie, like those before it, marked a special time in his childhood, Hutcherson admits. "I didn't go to school, I didn't have like a normal childhood. But what I gained from being on film sets was invaluable and extremely rare. I was very lucky to have to have all those experiences."
Firehouse Dog (2007)
Hutcherson befriends a lovable mutt in this precious but predictable family movie that also starred Bruce Greenwood: "I was 13. I remember my team saying, 'You know, it's not the strongest in the world. It's about a boy and his dog.' I remember saying to my mom, 'Look, this movie has fire, skateboards, and dogs. I really want to do it!' My mom was like, 'Guys, he's 13 and he wants these things. I'm not going to tell him no.'"
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
It was the first mainstream movie to show a same-sex couple (played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) raising two teenagers. "We did one rehearsal of our family together and then we were shooting within a week," recalls Hutcherson. "It was a super-quick turnaround. But that one felt like I was a part of something that would actually make a difference."
Red Dawn (2012)
This remake of the 1984 film allowed Hutcherson to work with the likes of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Hemsworth as they told the story of a group of young people who defend their hometown from a North Korean invasion. "We did three weeks of hardcore military training bootcamps," Hutcherson says. "Chris felt like a big brother. I mean, it was a bunch of young people running around and playing army men like you do when you're a kid. That taught me a lot about action and stunts… all these things that came into play when I did The Hunger Games."
The Hunger Games (2012-15)
Playing Peeta Mellark in this behemoth franchise was a life-changing experience for Hutcherson. "It was like my college," he says. "That was like such a coming-of-age time for me. It was the first time I was away from my family, and on my own." Nothing, however, prepared him for the stardom that followed. "It was worlds apart from anything I have ever experienced. It's like a double-edged sword. Obviously the benefit of having more projects come your way is great. But when I set out to become an actor at 8, being famous and being recognized was not on my radar. I just wanted to make movies. That naiveté followed me until The Hunger Games slapped me in the face. It's hard for anybody to digest, especially being a kid from Kentucky. It made me realize the kind of actor I wanted to be. The idea of doing big, big projects that make you even more well-known doesn't sound as appetizing. If that opportunity came up again, I would have to think about it more."
Future Man (2017-2020)
Hutcherson plays a janitor who saves the world in this offbeat Hulu comedy. "I had always kind of not been interested in television," Hutcherson admits. "I had a very antiquated idea of it. I did The Disaster Artist with James Franco and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. I only worked on it for like three days and it was my first time doing comedy in such an odd way. They reached out to me and said, 'Hey, we're making this show. We want you to be the lead.' I thought it was really weird, really funny. And I was like, okay, I've never done TV. I've never done comedy. What better group of people to take a swing at this? It was so fun."