People In Film | Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson: This Kid is All Right

In Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are Alright, Josh Hutcherson plays Laser, your basic teenage boy into skateboarding, hanging out with his buds and finding his biological dad. You’d think he might be a bit shy with such an impressive multiple-Oscar-nominated film family. His two moms are Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. His biological dad is Mark Ruffalo. And his sister, Mia Wasikowska, just starred as Alice in Tim Burton’s blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. But the young 18-year-old ingénue is really a seasoned veteran of film and television. Popping up on the TV pilot “House Blend” at the 10, Hutcherson had set his heart on acting when he was just 4.

Josh Finds An Agent

While born and raised in Union, KY, Hutcherson instinctively knew that he wanted to become an actor. His determination can be seen on his face in 2004, just 2 years into his acting career. While Union is a far cry from Hollywood, Hutcherson found a way to get there. He explained to MoviesOnline.com:

I had to beg and beg my parents. I started begging them to let me be in movies since I was three or four. They always said no and said, ‘why don’t you play sports or why don’t you do something else,’ because being from Kentucky you always hear about the negative stuff about being a young actor. Not that I’d ever get that far, but still that was always in the back of their head and finally when I was nine, they let me get a local agency from the yellow pages believe it or not. I met with them and met an acting coach. I still haven’t done one acting lesson in my entire life, but I went to this acting coach to see what it was like and he said we should go to California for the big stuff. I was so excited and my parents were like, ‘oh he’s going to make us go, isn’t he?’ I begged and begged and begged and they finally took me out there and let me try it for one pilot season. In that pilot season, I got a pilot, a lead in a TV movie and it just kind of took off from there.
Josh Finds His Voice

Starting with parts on TV sitcoms, Hutcherson soon landed roles in several major motion pictures, albeit not in the usual way. Two of his first big film roles were as voice talent for animated characters. For Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture animated film The Polar Express, Hutcherson spoke the part of one of the “Hero Boys.” In the English version of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated epic Howl’s Moving Castle, he voiced the character of Markl, the wizard Howl’s assistant. While there was no action, animated films proved to be fatiguing. He told Mark Sells of the Oregon Herald that for Howl’s Moving Castle, “I was only in L.A. for a day so we had to record an entire movie in one day. There was quite a bit of dialogue and I did all in about 8 hours...I could barely talk afterwards. Plus I had to make my words match another language mouth movements so it was tricky.”

Josh Finds Strange, New Worlds

After working as voice talent, Hutcherson started up on a series of action films that definitely used both his body and voice. In 2006, he showed up in Zathura, Jon Favreau’s adaption of Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s adventure story about a board game that shoots its players into an outer-space adventure. In 2007, he starred in Bridge to Terabithia, an adaption of Katherine Paterson’s classic of children’s fiction. Playing a fragile young boy who lives his emotional life in the drawings he makes, Hutcherson got to show both his action chops and emotional range here. In the effects-laden adventure yarn Journey to the Center of the Earth (adapted from Jules Verne’s sci-fi classic), Hutcherson plays the nephew of Brendan Fraser, a science professor out to prove his much ridiculed theory about what exists inside our planet.

Josh Finds His Way

Even though Hutcherson has carved out a solid Hollywood career in the last 8 years, he keeps his home in Kentucky and his head in his craft. In recent films, like The Kids Are All Right, Paul Weitz’s The Vampire’s Assistant, and the upcoming remake of the cult 80s communist-paranoia film Red Dawn, Hutcherson has moved beyond child actor to being a young adult with complex emotions and reactions. To do that he has had to grow as an actor. He recently told MovieLine’s The Verge:

When I was ten, I was definitely more near-sighted — that’s for sure. I would think about my character and my lines, and that was it. Now, though, I really get into it. I break down every line, I break down every beat that my character has throughout the scene, and I figure out how I play into the big picture. It’s not just my character — how do my scenes affect the other characters and the whole storyline?
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