Josh Hutcherson on the Crazy 'Hunger Games' Experience and (Maybe) Playing Spider-Man


First thing’s first: Yes, Josh Hutcherson would still like to play Spider-Man. We talked to the 22-year-old Hunger Games star last week on the eve of his new Project Imagination collaboration with director-producer Ron Howard, and we brought up his previous superhero aspirations.

When Hutcherson was 18 — a year before he was cast as Peeta Mellark — he came close to landing the title role in Marc Webb’s Spider-Man reboot that eventually went to Andrew Garfield. Obviously, things worked out quite well for Hutcherson anyway. But the Spider-Man role is unexpectedly open once again, with Marvel and Sony rebooting the property and looking for a younger actor.

“Yeah, of course I’d think about doing it: It’s Spider-Man, that’d be really cool,” he said during a phone call with Yahoo Movies last week. “There’s not been any conversations about that, but who knows what would happen?”

Whichever way Spidey swings, Hutcherson will certainly be in a good place when the Hunger Games series winds down in November. For the first time, he’s stepping up as a full-fledged producer for a new short film he’s making with Ron Howard for Canon. The film will be the latest iteration of Project Imagination, which takes submissions from amateurs and turns them into professionally-made short projects. This year, fans will send in a trailer featuring their own home-movie footage; Hutcherson and Howard will pick their favorite, and then Hutcherson will star in a short film inspired by the winning entry. He told us more about working with Howard and how the Hunger Games press tour would make a really weird movie.

What moment from your life would you turn into a short film?
I’m in love with my dog, he’s a huge part of my life, so it could have something to do with him. But I also feel like I have gotten to live some pretty crazy experiences growing up in this business, with movies. Maybe it’d have to be a story from set or a story of getting a job, or where I almost got a job and thought I had a job, but didn’t. Because that happens often.

Any experience from making The Hunger Games that would make a good movie?
There’s a lot of stories from shooting that would make cool movies, but maybe the press tour. The press tour is such a crazy experience, it’s really hard to explain to someone what that feels like, to hit a different city every day and have to do an entire press junket and premiere, every single day in different languages.

I see them for maybe one day, at a junket. I can’t imagine what the entire tour is like.
During the press tour for Catching Fire, we were in Europe and we did five cities or six days. Every day, you woke up and did press for six hours, with the round tables and the same questions a thousand times in a row and you try to make it sound interesting. But it’s painful. And then after that you go and get changed for the premiere, you do this crazy, super-high energy tiring thing where you see all the fans and the press on the red carpet. Then you hop on a plane, fly to the next city, go to sleep, and wake up and do it all again. So it’s a weird Groundhog Day type of thing, but in slightly different hotels with slightly different languages.

What are the questions you get the most?
Every press tour has had a different most-asked question. At the beginning, it was like, “So did you read the books?” And I was like, “Yeah, I definitely read the books.” Everyone always wants to hear a funny story from the filming process. The question I get the most is “Tell us something that no one else knows.” And you’re like, “I’m doing press, everybody knows these things!”

In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, we mostly see you delivering messages from the Capitol, and you’re increasingly insane and gaunt… and then you choke Katniss. What was it like for you to watch that on screen?
It’s always crazy to see something that you’ve acted in actually on the screen and having other people see it. It’s not gotten any less weird for me. Especially when I’m losing my mind — to see it in that extreme of a state. It really added a lot to the scene, I think, to have the physicality. I wasn’t that gaunt in real life, thank God. I didn’t have to go on a crazy diet.

Tell me more about this round of Project Imagination: How are you going to decide on the project?
Ron and I are going to go through the submissions when they start coming in and basically choose the one that we think is going to inspire the most interesting, best film. It’s a little scary for me because I have no idea what these submissions are going to be, so I signed on to play a character that I haven’t even seen yet.

What are you guys looking for in a director?
I’m watching a lot of movies — a lot of new movies out of Sundance — and trying to find someone who’s young and has a fresh perspective. So this project is kind of all about that, finding someone new who doesn’t have their story told and bringing that to life.

What’s cool about this Canon project is that people get to see their lives up on the big screen.
It gives an opportunity to someone who may have never even picked up a camera and thought about making a movie or taking photos or telling a story. And there are so many people who are so far removed from the movie business and they all have interesting stories, they all have something cool to tell, whether it’s a true story about themselves or an idea they came up with.

You started when you were really young, and the first time you were on set, what was that experience like?
I was nine years old. It was terrifying. I got this question, when was the moment you knew you made it? And for me it was the first moment that I ever went on set. It was like, oh my god, I’m acting and I’m making a movie. I was so excited and really nervous at the same time.