Our Interview with Josh Hutcherson Saturday 17 March, 2012
By Savanna New
What do tank tops, fried chicken, and the University of Kentucky Wildcats have in common? As it turns out, a lot more than you might think.
When I found out a few weeks ago that I was going to have the opportunity to interview Josh Hutcherson over the phone with several other fan sites, I was immediately seized by a wave of anxiety. Unlike a lot of the other fan site admins involved in this roundtable interview, I’d never met Josh Hutcherson before, so I was extremely nervous about finally coming voice-to-voice with the person the world now identifies as Peeta. At least he won’t be able to see me sweat, I told myself repeatedly. My main concern was coming up with a decent question. At this point, I feel like I’ve seen and read nearly every Hunger Games-related Josh Hutcherson interview out there, and so many interviewers ask the same questions over and over and over again. I wanted to ask Josh something that he had never been asked before, but something that was still “on topic” – loosely, at least, if not entirely. And so, after consulting with my ever-insightful co-host Adam, I decided to ask Josh what fan site HE would start if he suddenly found himself awash in spare time. But more about that later.
On the appointed day, at the appointed time, I called the appointed number and waited for Josh to come on the line. While I have no idea what the setting was like on his end of things, I was freaking out relaxing at the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Walt Disney World. Since so many press junkets take place in hotels, I thought it was funny that I just happened to be in one, and I tried to use that fact to calm my nerves. I’m a professional, I chanted in my mind. I’ve interviewed tons of people before. Yes, Josh is starring in the adaptation of one of my favorite books of all-time, but he’s just a person. An insanely cool, talented person. A person who’s about to skyrocket to untold levels of fa—
“Hey, guys! How are you!?”
And there he was. Before we even began to ask our questions, Josh made a point of thanking all of us for our hard work on our sites and for “rallying” all the fans together. “It really means a lot,” he said. “And definitely does not go unnoticed by everyone involved with making the movie.” His slightly accented voice was filled with so much warmth, realness, and humility, I couldn’t help but feel instantly at ease.
The Hob kicked off the interview by asking Josh about what scene he found the most challenging to film, and if those challenges led to any changes. To almost no one’s surprise, the cave scene became the immediate focus of his response. It was “tough,” he said, on both a cinematic and emotional level. “Number one, we had to shoot all the stuff that happened in the cave in one day, so we didn’t have a lot of time to really get it.” Josh added that to avoid pushing Peeta too far onto “the softer edge,” he worked with both Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins to give the character “a little more backbone” by tweaking his dialogue and performance to get to that point. “It did slightly change a little bit from the book,” he continued. “But in no way that I think most people really notice.”
Mockingjay.net asked about the “craziest stunt” Josh had to do. “Probably the end fight with Cato and Katniss on top of the Cornucopia,” he replied, revealing that they shot this intense, elaborately choreographed scene over the course of three very hot and humid nights.
Perhaps Josh was thinking of those hot and humid nights when he tapped into his inner Cinna and told HungerGamesTrilogy.net which crazy Capitol fashion trend he would start. “I’m personally a fan of tank tops. I think they’re perfect and extremely comfortable.” He also proclaimed his love for “crazy hair things” like mohawks.
Down with the Capitol asked Josh what he thought Peeta’s arena token might be. I especially loved this question since so much emphasis is placed on Katniss’s mockingjay pin, but we never learn if Peeta brought anything in with him as well. “Most people probably bring something from their family, but Peeta’s had a very tried relationship with his family,” he said. “I’d like to think maybe it was something from a grandparent of his. Maybe some sort of pendant or something like that.” As for Josh himself? “My grandma makes the best fried chicken in the world. And maybe, like, a bone from one of her pieces of fried chicken would be a good luck kind of thing.” He thought that was weird; I think it’s adorable.
Chuckling slightly, Josh told My Hunger Games that it’s “such a crazy feeling” to see his face all over pillowcases and T-shirts, and that it’s something he “never really expected to happen in [his] lifetime.” He mentioned that it’s “mildly embarrassing and slightly traumatizing” when his friends send him pictures of themselves “holding up a magazine with [his] face on it.” He went on to say, though, how cool and reassuring it is to be part of such an amazing movie with such a large, supportive fan base.
HungerGamesMovie.org led us into the second half of the interview by asking Josh what the most physically difficult part of shooting was. As other cast members have mentioned in past interviews, the summer heat in North Carolina proved to be a constant source of discomfort. “Especially in the Reaping, we had like 400 extras there, and they were all young kids, and it was 100 degrees outside. We shot that scene for, you know, five days.” Josh –whose upbeat attitude is downright infectious – did manage to put a positive spin on things, though, adding that the oppressive, “frustrating” weather helped lend a “real element” to the Reaping and “gave [them] a bit of an edge.”
HG Girl on Fire asked Josh to expound upon the similarities he shares with Peeta and the qualities he felt were most important to bring to life. “I connect with Peeta on so many levels,” he told us. “Peeta has a strong belief that you can’t become a piece in someone’s game, you’ve got to be the creator of your own life, and I believe that wholeheartedly.” He compared Peeta’s experiences in the Games to his own experiences as an actor (“I’ve had to not change who I am”) and also admitted that at his audition he said to Suzanne Collins: “I really don’t know how you were able to write a book based on me.” We couldn’t help but all laugh at that; Josh really is Peeta!
Most of you will recall Josh’s long hiatus from Twitter and his recent triumphant return. He explained to TheHungerGamesMovies.net that he “was in London and Paris and [he] was doing some pretty cool stuff and seeing some amazing things and [he] wanted to share it with somebody.” So far, he said, “the fan feedback’s been amazing,” and while he’s been trying to keep up with Twitter, he doesn’t want to go overboard and only plans to tweet when “exciting things are happening.”
My favorite question came from Tiffany, who was on as a representative of both Victor’s Village and Welcome to District 12. She asked Josh what present-day reality television show he’d most want to be forced to participate in. Refreshingly, Josh stated that he doesn’t watch much reality TV, but he didn’t let that deter him from providing a fantastic response to this question. We already knew of Josh’s love for Bear Grylls, so it didn’t come as a shock when he first brought up Man vs. Wild. “I would probably choose that one just because he’s epic and amazing.” His second choice? “Jersey Shore, just to try to knock some sense into these people.”
Guess who got to ask her question next? That’s right – me! Considering that representatives from eleven different Hunger Games fan sites were involved in this interview, it seemed appropriate to sort of bring things full circle and ask Josh what fan site he would start if he wasn’t a “famous actor.” “I would probably start a UK fan site – University of Kentucky basketball – ‘cause I’m a diehard Wildcats fan. I have been my whole life. I’m obsessed with the team and I know a bunch about the stats and the players and all that. So that would probably be the route that I’d go down.”
Sparks Will Fly closed out the call by asking Josh about the scene that resulted in the most injuries. “Surprisingly, it was actually a scene that wasn’t supposed to have any kind of action in it. It was just me and Jennifer running through the woods.” He then shared his version of the now-infamous “concussion story.” During a break from shooting, Jennifer told Josh that she could “kick over his head.” He insisted that it wasn’t possible, so she tried it and ended up kicking him in the side of the head and giving him a mild concussion. Though they laughed about it at first, Josh said that Jennifer felt terrible when the concussion was confirmed and offered to let Josh kick her in the head. “I wish it was on camera,” he replied, tongue-in-cheek, when asked if the moment had been caught on film. “Then I’d never let her live it down.”
After thanking us again, Josh let his parting words be a tribute to his beloved Wildcats:
“Go Big Blue!”