Josh Hutcherson plays Jesse Aarons in Bridge to Terabithia. He is 14 years old and lives in Kentucky. Previous acting roles include appearances in Zathura: A Space Adventure and RV with Robin Williams.
Did you read the book of Bridge to Terabithia?
I read the book when I found out that it was getting made into a movie. I fell in love with it right away and as I was reading it, I could totally see it coming to life.
What was it about Jesse that you could relate to?
I liked everything about Jess. He’s a great character to play because he was very different from any character I’ve played before. One of the great things about him was that he had this side to him that was totally real. Like everything about his life was real. Kids have to go through stuff he had to go through all the time. I got bullied a little bit when I went to school, because I was made fun of for acting. They thought it was weird or stupid or something like that. They were really mean to me and I had to get over it and realise that it made them feel better about themselves, for some reason.
So why did you go into acting?
I really don’t know. I kind of loved doing it for some reason. I begged my parents ever since I was like three or four to let me get into it and they never let me in until I was about nine. They let me get an agent in Cincinnati via the Yellow Pages actually. I looked them up in the phone book and gave them a call and they said they wanted to meet with me, so I met with them. I told them that I wanted to become an actor and stuff like that. I met with an acting coach they had flown in from New York. At that point, I had done some like local auditions and stuff like that, and I was loving it already. I knew I was going to love it forever. I met with this acting coach and I still haven’t taken any acting lessons to this day. I’ve never really done it before. Then they told me I should go to California for pilot season (where they hold auditions for all new TV shows).
And you got booked immediately?
I did, yeah. My first job in California was a television pilot called House Blend. I was nine.
Is it true that the producers didn’t want you after your first audition, but then you were given a second chance?
Right, I had to try and convince them to hire me. They really didn’t want me. (Laughs)
But then the chemistry between you and AnnaSophia was really good. Did you feel that right away?
I did, as soon as I met her, we knew right away there was going to be a great friendship and that our friendship away from the set would be great, because it would help our chemistry on camera.
So what did you do together off set? Did you hang out in New Zealand?
Yeah, we hung out. We went on some little road trips around New Zealand. We went to the beach a lot. Go swimming in the water. That was a lot of fun and we watched a lot of movies too.
Have you had any experience with romance?
I have a girlfriend, but I don’t know if that’s really romance! (Laughs)
Is this a long time thing?
Believe it or not, we’ve been going out for almost eight months. For a fourteen year old, that’s quite a long time! Her name is Shannon Wada.
How did you meet her?
Through a friend. Her friend was a friend of mine for a while, like I had known this girl since I was five and we became good friends. And one time we all went to the movies and I met Shannon there. I think we saw Benchwarmers.
Is she also an actress?
She’s trying, she’s doing modelling right now. She’s actually with the same agency as I’m with in Kentucky. She’s doing a little bit of acting though.
What other actors do you look up to?
I love Jake Gyllenhaal. I think he’s a great actor and he chooses roles so wisely. All the roles he’s ever done have been so good and so deep. Like in Donnie Darko, is one of my favourite movies and his role on that is so good. I’ve watched it like ten times.
Have you met him?
I haven’t, but I want to though.
Do you ever feel intimidated when you meet other famous actors?
I haven’t before. I’ve worked with Tom Hanks and Robin Williams, some big names and I’ve never felt intimidated for some reason. I don’t know why? I should feel intimidated I know that, but I just feel like they’re normal people too and they do the same thing I do.
What’s your favourite book?
Ah man. I liked Eragon a lot. I preferred the book to the movie.
How do your friends at school treat you now that you’re in movies?
I have experienced both kinds. I have really good friends who are cool about it and sometimes they ask me questions about it, which is cool because they don’t know anything about it. They want to learn about it. But there are some people who are mean. I guess they’re jealous.
How do you deal with the bullies?
I know it was really hard for me, but you have to rise above it and realise that they’re just doing that, because it makes them feel better.
What did you spend your first pay cheque on?
I spent it on a dirt bike. My little brother rides it now, because it’s too small for me.
What was it like having four sisters?
Ah man! That was crazy, I could never handle all those sisters.
What would be your top five DVDs?
Donnie Darko is definitely up there. Talladega Nights. Borat – that was funny. I really loved Little Miss Sunshine. I liked the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I used to be into so many different Disney movies. I used to have all of them. I used to watch The Lion King like a thousand times and used to dress up as John Smith from Pocahontas.
You said you knew you wanted to act at the age of four, how did you know that that was a job that you wanted at such an early age?
I really don’t know, there was just something about it. I didn’t actually say I wanted to be an actor, I just said, I wanted to be in movies. I always loved entertaining people. I always loved being the centre of attention with everybody laughing around me. I was the best at playing hooky at school. I would fake teachers out so badly, they would call my mum and make them come and get me because they thought I was so sick and would infect the whole school! There was something about it that has always been appealing to me.
What about working with the green screen and special effects?
We had a lot of it in this movie. It was difficult because there were times when you had to imagine the creatures were jumping at you and you had to hit them and dodge and dive, but there was nothing there. You had to really stretch your imagination.
The whole movie was about imagination, are you the kind of kid who makes up stories?
Oh yeah, I’ve always been that type. I’ve never been the whole video game type, I’ve always been into playing outside and imagining games outside.
What actress would you like to work with?
Angelina Jolie. I think that kind of explains itself.
What do you have coming up?
I have Firehouse Dog coming out and I just finished a film called Centre of the Earth, (Journey 3-D) before the holidays with Brendan Fraser. Right now, I’m looking at some scripts.