Josh Hutcherson Freaked Out When Ethan Hawke Said Hi to Him at the Oscars
In about eight months, Josh Hutcherson will undergo the Young Hollywood Actor equivalent of graduating high school, when his young-adult franchise, The Hunger Games, comes to a close in November with the release of Mockingjay, Part 2. At this moment, Hutcherson seems to be most focused on the social implications of the end of this chapter. “It’s sad,” he says, dressed in a white T-shirt, scruff creeping around his jawline and partway down his neck. “It’s been the most incredible experience making these movies. I’ve made friends that I’m going to have forever. Nothing is as bonding or as close an experience as filming a movie with someone. I’m going to miss that closeness, for sure.” He explains that the group involved in making the films—including co-stars Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth—has made a pact to re-unite at least every two years for a “group vacation [lasting] four to eight days.” They had initially decided to aim for an annual sojourn, but that seemed “a little unrealistic.”
Hutcherson’s first notable post-Hunger Games project is not what you might expect from a 22-year-old with an obsessive tween fan base. Rather than a Nicholas Sparks film or fragrance ad campaign, Hutcherson has teamed up with Canon and Ron Howard for Project Imagination, which revolves around a consumer-created-trailer contest. Basically, users are given the opportunity to upload homemade trailers based on anything in their own lives, no matter how ordinary (you could film your cat clawing at your pillow case for 60 seconds, if you wanted); eventually, one trailer will be selected by Howard and Hutcherson to be turned into a short film, which—and here’s where things get wild—will feature Hutcherson in a leading role. Hutcherson, who said Howard’s involvement was a “big draw” in his signing on for the project, says he is game for whatever kind of part he might end up having to play, depending on the winning submission. When I ask what would happen if a trailer about a puppy wins, he jokes, “I can play anything. I’m very versatile.”
Hutcherson—who tweets and Instagrams on rare occasion—says that he, himself, doesn’t record very much in his daily life. “I don’t like to document my life in any way,” he says. “My life of work is documenting, when I’m filming. But when I’m in my own life, I want it to be undocumented . . . I like to live my own life and live in the moment. I think so many times you miss out on the real moments that are happening because you’re trying to capture it to save it for later.” What would he submit a trailer about, if he were going to enter the contest? Without flinching or pausing, he answers, “The process of an actor getting prepared and going to an audition. It’s such a normal thing that [actors] do all the time, and it’s such a horrible gut-wrenching experience. . . . It’s kind of cool to tell a story that’s normal for you but might not be normal for somebody else.” This interest in the behind-the-scenes aspect of filmmaking extends to his career ambitions, as well. Hutcherson is producing the Project Imagination film (“producing next to Ron Howard is definitely a great crash course in how to produce”), and says he wants to be a director, down the road, and is “starting to tip-toe in that direction.”
Hutcherson seems to be somewhat wary of the attention that his work in front of the camera has brought about. He says “the thing [he] dislikes the most’” is when fans approach him in public and ask, “‘Can I have a selfie?’ Click. ‘Thanks,’” and then walk away without saying anything to him. “You didn’t actually meet me,” he says. “All you did was get a photo. You could have Photoshopped me into that and it would have been the same experience for you.” He says, with a sly smile, that most people who approach him on the street can’t quite place him. “My favorite thing is when they’re like, ‘Where’d you go to school? What’s your name? God, you look so familiar.’ . . . Sometimes people are like, ‘Anyone ever tell you you look a lot like that guy from The Hunger Games?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, they tell me that a lot.’” One person who Hutcherson was very happy approached him, though: Ethan Hawke. At the Oscars last week, Hawke walked over to Hutcherson to say hello, to his great delight. “I’ve admired [Hawke] for so long,” he says. “And he actually introduced himself to me. And I was like, ‘Whaaaat? What are you saying hi to me for?!’ It was really cool.”
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