Josh Hutcherson grew up on film sets. As a child actor he worked with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening in the Oscar nominated The Kids Are Alright. He also appeared with Tim Robbins and Kristen Stewart in Zathura. So it’s safe to say he’s used to seeing stars on set. While shooting The Hunger Games, however, he saw stars of a different kind when Jennifer Lawrence “threw an incredibly perfect kick right to my temple.”
“It was a complete accident,” he says, “but I went down and saw stars. She was crying and saying how sorry she was and I was trying to comfort her, even though I was the one in pain.”
Taking a kick to the head was one of the challenges of making the action film, but Hutcherson says the main test was making a movie that was true to the spirit of the book.
“The world outside Hollywood has this idea that when a big book is made into a movie it’s only so Hollywood can cash in on it. That is not at all what our mission was. We didn’t want this to be the book on tape version, but we wanted to tell the story as if you were reading it in the book. Pretty much everyone involved with the movie from the actors to the cameramen and grips on set loved the books and wanted to see it done properly.”
The story, he says, resonated with him but it was the character Peeta that drew him in.
“I liked who Peeta was as a person,” he says. “He really believes strongly in not changing his beliefs no matter what kind of circumstances he’s in, and that is something I’ve always prided myself in believing in.”
As a result he makes an indelible impression as the idealistic Tribute from District 12.
“If there is one character I want to be known for it is definitely this,” he says. “The books are extremely powerful and the character is someone I really connected with.”
The process of making the film so satisfying, says the nineteen-year-old actor, that even if he didn’t get to play Peeta again–but don’t worry, he will–he is happy.
“Liam (Hemsworth) said if something happened and we didn’t get to make another one of these, we’re so happy having this be the one, and I agree,” he says. “We don’t feel like an open wound where it needs to be healed up. This is its own, free-standing thing.”