Josh Hutcherson has acted as a young career in films like American Splendor, The Polar Express, Kicking & Screaming, Zathura, RV, Bridge To Terabithia, and The Kids Are Alright.
The 19 year-old’s latest film reprises his role as Sean Anderson in the successful 2008 3D version of the Jules Verne classic book Journey To The Center Of The Earth. The latest outing, based on another Verne novel, is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Josh talks about what it was like doing a sequel.
“There was such a big gap between the two that it felt like an entirely different movie,” Hutcherson says of it, “It was nice though. I mean, when I heard the cast that we were going to get, I was really excited about it.”
“ I mean, Luis Guzmán, Michael Caine, Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens and myself,” he adds, “It was like, wait, what is this? You’d never think that [Vanessa and I would] be in a movie together. It makes no sense, honestly. But we are, and it was an absolute blast.”
The film was shot on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Hutcherson talked about what was the creepiest things he encountered in the jungles on the island.
“Bugs,” Josh says, “A hundred of them, roughly. They definitely were a little much at times for sure, especially when you’re sitting there and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s an ant. Oh, my God, it’s an anthill,’ and there are like nine million ants crawling all over you. It’s a little scary at times, but I’m a man.”
Josh talks about what it was like shooting in a tank during an underwater sequence.
“The tank was tough,” he recalls, “It was hard because there was one point where Dwayne and I were actually down there for almost an hour without coming up to the surface once. Everybody else had scuba gear on and we didn’t. So, literally, we’d do the take on like one breath.”
“And they’d cut and we were like blindly fumbling over to our little thing and getting some air,” Hutcherson continues, “And that was pretty challenging, because you’re sort of like, ‘I don’t have a breathing apparatus and I’m not made to be underwater this long, so this is kind of strange.’ It was hard. They had to use chlorine and whatnot in the pool to keep it from being dangerous for us to be in, so it was kind of hard to open your eyes at times. They have a guy hand you a hookah to breathe.”
Hutcherson talks about how he has dealt with having had success early on as a young actor.
“It’s hard because with every single role, you’re not going to get a role unless you invest your whole heart into it, but then you also don’t get a lot of them,” he says, “So, it’s a lot of little letdowns over time. And like with my next movie The Hunger Games, for instance, I said out loud that if I didn’t get that, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
“I didn’t know what that meant because I had no idea what I was going to do,” Josh continues, “I was going to keep acting, obviously, but I had never read a role that I felt I connected with as much and that I felt like I was more right for in my life. So, if I didn’t get it, I was like, ‘What am I, just a bad actor then?’ Because if that’s so much who I am, how can I not even play myself?”
Josh also talks about what it was like interacting with a green screen which later fill in the blank for various CGI effects.
“I think that there are a lot of times when you’re on set and you have a green screen you’re working with where you’ll pretend there’s a giant lizard chasing you when there’s nothing there,” Hutcherson says, “You kind of have to go for it. In order to sell it to the audience, you can’t really hold back. I think that was the biggest thing for me. Being shown the images of what the creatures were going to look like and then having to react to them realistically without feeling like you’re a crazy person.”
“So in that sense, making a fantastical world real is a bit of a challenge, for sure,” he continues, “As far as making it real, I think that in a story like this, the emotional journey is so important because it is such a fantastical world but human emotion is something that everybody can connect to. So, when you have the emotions of Sean getting to warm up to his stepfather, Dwayne’s character, and Kailani, Vanessa’s character,getting to trust Sean, you have those character elements, that kind of brings it down to reality for sure.”
Hutcherson talks about what it was like to work with High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens.
“What surprised me about Vanessa, I think, is when you see a lot of leading ladies in Hollywood, they can tend to take themselves very seriously and listen to their press and whatnot,” Josh says, “And Vanessa doesn’t. She doesn’t take herself seriously — in a good way. So, that was nice to see and very refreshing.”
“I met her a couple of times just at random events, but I never really talked to her,” he adds, “So, the first time we really hung out was during the chemistry read back in L.A. Vanessa came in, and we kind of read over some scenes just to feel it out and everything. And it was great. We hit it off from there on out. And like we were saying earlier, we’re both just very fun, outgoing people and don’t really care what we look like when we’re having our fun. We’re big kids.”
Josh also revealed what the atmosphere was like on the set of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
“It was fun,” he says, “It was a lot of pranking. Because there were a lot of bugs in the woods and whatnot, we’d take these long sticks and, from far away, kind of poke it in somebody’s ear and they’d always think there’s like a bug crawling inside their head.
“And one time Vanessa and I, we got Luis so good,” Hutcherson continues, “It was probably like eight minutes long, and Luis was like, ‘What in the world is going on? These stupid bugs.’ He turns around and goes, ‘I see you.’ It was so hard not to laugh. He had no idea. That was really fun.”
Hutcherson was asked if he and the cast got to do something fun in Hawaii outside of work.
“Some restaurants, some good restaurants,” Josh says, “That was the best.”
Hutcherson was asked if he felt any pressure at all to live up the enormous expectations of his next film, the highly-anticipated adaptation of The Hunger Games, the first in a best-selling book trilogy written by Suzanne Collins.
“Well, I don’t read stuff online or that kind of thing so much,” Josh says, “I think, for me, everybody’s going to have their opinion and especially, when you have a beloved book like this, people want to see it done right.”
“And what people have to keep in mind is Gary Ross was hired by the studio and the producer is working with Suzanne Collins because they all have a united vision for the project,” he continues, “So having Suzanne involved in that process helped a lot. And having her said what she said about the casting process really gave me a vow of confidence as well as the audience.”
Josh was asked why he lobbied so hard for his role in The Hunger Games as Peeta Mellark.
“For me, Peeta has this really strong belief that you have to maintain who you are as a person and stay true to yourself,” Hutcherson replies, “And that for me is my biggest moral as a human being, as well as a very self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s good at communicating with people. I just felt that his voice and his overall existence was kind of who I was.”