While he spent most of his teenage years churning out major motion pictures, 19-year-old Josh Hutcherson is keenly aware that as far as fame goes, he hasn’t seen anything yet. This year, he co-headlines “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” with Dwayne Johnson — who’s stepping in for “Journey to the Center of the Earth” co-star Brendan Frasier. And then Hutcherson has a little something called “The Hunger Games” hitting theaters next month. A fan of understatement, Hutcherson describes the coming months as “a little daunting.”
Your character in ‘Journey 2’ seems to have bad luck with father figures.
Yeah, a bit. He’s having a hard time dealing with that, and I think that because his father wasn’t around originally he has a tough time kind of coping with the new guy that’s sort of come into his life.
How was it having Dwayne Johnson step in to replace Brendan Frasier?
I think with Dwayne, you see him be the big action guy and then also the charming “Tooth Fairy” kind of role, and then this one I think kind of combines those two worlds. He brought a lot to the table, and he obviously has a giant fan base as well. He’s just, like, a good guy. Any sort of physical intimidation that you’d feel at first is whacked away by his funniness and his down-to-earthness.
Is a third film in the franchise in your mind at all? Has there been talk or contracts for that yet?
For sure. They’ve had a lot of talks about it. They’re kind of waiting obviously to see how this movie performs and whatnot. Hopefully if this one does well then they’ll come to me again.
Has there been a focus or effort by yourself or your team to find more franchise-type films?
No, not so much. I think if anything it’s been a bit of the opposite — now that I have the “Hunger Games” and “Journey” franchises, to move on to something that’s more of an indie kind of film. I’m looking for something that really intrigues me and something where I can really kind of play something different from everything else that I’m doing.
About those ‘Hunger Games’ ...
With “The Hunger Games” coming up, this is a big year ahead for you. How are things changing for you?
At the moment, it hasn’t changed that much. But as far as how I’m looking ahead, I’m a little bit nervous, just based on what the expectations are for the movie. It’s going to be a little life-changing, possibly, but I’m on board. I’m excited about it.
The casting process for “The Hunger Games” was one of the most contested, heated online discussions I’ve ever seen. How was it to be on the actors’ side of that?
The fans are extremely loyal, and any time you see them lashing out or whatever you want to call it, it’s coming from a place of passion. I personally didn’t look at anything like that. I never really went online. I’d only heard through hearsay what other people were talking about, really. So for me it’s exciting. I know some people kind of take it a little more seriously than others. For me, it’s kind of one of those things where it’s just that — it’s very passionate — and to hear the fans being that into it, whether it be positive or negative, just makes you realize how important — to them and for me as an actor — how important it is to do right by them.
And exactly how violent does it get?
We stay true to the book as far as the realistic-ness of the violence, but at the same time the way that [director Gary Ross] kind of captured the violence — the way it’s edited — is in a way that makes it appropriate for PG-13 audiences to see without being dishonest to the brutality that the books portray.