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‘Hunger Games’ Star Josh Hutcherson To Go ‘Ape’ For Passion Project

May 22, 2013

With a key role in the blockbuster franchise “The Hunger Games,” actor Josh Hutcherson could very easily do nothing (work-wise) in-between the releases of the second, third and fourth films and still maintain a level of popularity in Hollywood for the next few years. Instead of resting on his laurels however, Hutcherson has several lower-profile projects lined up, including the recently-announced movie “Ape,” for which he’ll serve as star and producer.

According to The Wrap, "Ape" is billed as a dark psychological thriller that revolves around a young man’s struggle with mental illness, love and a deep-rooted family secret. Miguel Sapochnik ("Repo Men") has been tapped to direct the project from a screenplay written by newcomer Jon Johnston. Hutcherson’s company JetLag productions will share production duties with Atomic Owl Pictures.

“We strongly believe in the global appeal of this project and we’re excited to work with Bree Herzog and team” Hutcherson said of his co-producer at Atomic Owl. “‘Ape’ is a passion project for us and to see it get made would truly be a dream come true.”

[Related: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Poster: Katniss Takes a Stand]

This will be Hutcherson’s second go-round working on two sides of the camera; the 20-year-old served as executive producer of last year’s twisted R-rated horror comedy “Detention,” which co-starred Shanley Caswell and Dane Cook and was directed by music video vet Joseph Kahn.

So how do his Indie projects impact Hutcherson’s bankability in the biz? Hollywood Reporter Staff Editor Erin Carlson told Yahoo! Movies she thinks Hutcherson is making all the right career moves.

"He'll be around for a long time,” said Carlson. “Unlike, say, Taylor Lautner, who will no doubt struggle to maintain his star power post-'Twilight,' Josh is laying the groundwork for a career beyond 'Hunger Games' through smart and eclectic choices that show off his range on film. Plus, he can build an audience without having to rely on his abs."

[Related: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ First Trailer Show Katniss in the Line of Fire for Love]

In addition to “Ape,” which he’ll have to film between work on the next two “Hunger Games” movies, you can hear Hutcherson’s voice acting talents in the animated movie “Epic,” which opens May 24. The busy young star is currently in Panama filming the Pablo Escobar drug drama "Paradise Lost" with his “7 Days in Havana” director Benicio Del Toro.

And we still have a few more months to wait to see him back in action as the lovable boy with the bread, Peeta Mellark. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” hits theaters November 22.