Josh Hutcherson ('Firehouse Dog')
'It's Not Just A Dog's Life Anymore!'
Born in October 12, 1992, Kentuckian Josh Hutcherson began his career as a child actor at the age of ten and ascended meteorically to the top of his game, transitioning effortlessly within a few short years from television series episodes to TV-movies to big-screen voice-over work to live-action parts in Hollywood feature films.
Hutcherson's career began when producers of the hit NBC series ER cast him in the "First Snowfall" episode of that program; it aired in late 2002. Hutcherson transitioned to TV-movies the following year, as the grandson of Peter Falk, who accompanies the elderly man on a colorful road trip in David Mickey Evans' picaresque yarn Wilder Days (2003).
Hutcherson debuted on the big screen in 2004, with two back-to-back voice assignments on animated features. He played Markl in the English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle (alongside screen vets Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, and others) and a Hero Boy -- one of many -- in Robert Zemeckis' CG-animated holiday picture The Polar Express. That same year, Hutcherson topped these efforts with additional small-screen voice-over work in the episode of the televised animated series Justice League Unlimited entitled "For the Man Who Has Everything."
Hutcherson tackled a three major roles in 2005, beginning that spring with a supporting role as Bucky, the son of dictatorial boys' soccer coach Robert Duvall (and the half-brother of Will Ferrell) in Jesse Dylan's family-oriented sports comedy Kicking & Screaming. Later that same year, Hutcherson tackled his first lead with premier billing in Mark Levin's Wonder Years-style coming-of-age dramedy Little Manhattan.
Concurrent with the release of Little Manhattan, Hutcherson received second billing after Jonah Bobo, as Walter, the eldest of two siblings, in Jon Favreau's underrated family-friendly sci-fi thriller Zathura.
Hutcherson's activity decrescendoed the following year, when he limited himself to one role, albeit one with great visibility -- that of young Carl Munro, the son of family patriarch Robin Williams, in Barry Sonnenfeld's nutty road comedy RV In 2007, however, Hutcherson resumed his hectic workload with multiple A-list motion pictures. The first, Bridge to Terabithia, was adapted from Katherine Paterson's popular children's novel; it starred Hutcherson as Jess Aarons, a youngster who befriends classmate Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) and constructs a vivid fantasy world with her that ends in tragedy.
In spring of this year, Hutcherson headlined another picture, 'Firehouse Dog,' directed by Todd Holland. In this film, Hutcherson played an adolescent who teams up with the titular canine to resurrect a dilapidated firehouse.
And in the summer 2008 release 'Journey 3-D' (produced under the working title 'Journey to the Center of the Earth,' and a contemporized adaptation of the Verne novel), the young actor portrays the nephew of a geologist played by Brendan Fraser, with whom he discovers a passageway to a "lost" universe at the Earth's core.
Since the age of ten you have ascended the ladder of success effortlessly, going within a few short years from TV series episodes to TV-movies to big-screen voice-over work to live-action parts in Hollywood feature films. Has it all been a whirlwind to you or perhaps it feels like you have been the lucky recipient of a snap of some magic fingers?! "It does seem like a fair amount of hard work, but I have been lucky quite a few times as far as being in the right place at the right time with the right people working on my side. But, I've had great experiences and I'm gonna keep on doing it for as long as I can. Hopefully, the snap of the magic fingers will keep on working for me."
Have there been roles in your life that you wish you had gotten but the snap of the magic fingers failed you for one reason or another? "You know, there was recently a project that I really wanted to do, really badly last Summer. I was very excited about it as it looked like I was going to get it. I flew out to LA to audition for it but I ended up not getting it. It was one of those things where you want it so badly you think you're so close that to not get it is just heartbreaking."
It’s been said about you that you would like to appear in every type of film genre. Is that true and do you think you’ll accomplish that? "It is yes. I want to try everything and see what my favorite type is. Scary movies, action ... anything I can get my hands on. I just want to try out all the different styles to find out which one I like the best."
As ‘Firehouse Dog’ [now out on DVD from 20th Century Fox] was actually filmed BEFORE ‘Bridge To Terabitha’ does that seem weird to you that a movie you made over a year and a half ago is now only finally here?! "Yeah, but I actually filmed 'Firehouse Dog' the Fall of 2005 and I filmed 'Terabitha' in the Spring and Summer of 2006. So, 'Firehouse Dog' didn't come out until late Spring 2007 so it was almost two years after I filmed it that it came out!"
Is it hard to recall everything that went on back on that set nearly two years later for interviews? "Yeah, that's one of the hardest parts, trying to remember everything from back then. People asking 'What was it like filming this scene' and you're like yeah, what was it like filming that?", he laughs. "It's just one of those things that you have to reach back into the memory banks for and find out where it was."
And can you see a drastic change in you visually since you filmed that movie? "Oh yeah, tons. Even between that and 'Terabithia' I think there's a big difference."
Can you watch yourself on the big screen? "I can, but I'm really bad about it though as I tend to be very critical of myself. So, it's hard to sit back and enjoy the movie as I find myself critiquing my performance constantly."
In 'Firehouse Dog’ you play a boy who teams up with the a dog named Rex to resurrect a dilapidated firehouse and a father and a son relationship. Is it true what they say about nobody should have to work with animals due to they always do what THEY want to do?! "It was fun, and there were points where it was chaotic, but it wasn't chaos all the time. There were four different dogs that played the role of Rex and so I got to meet all the different dogs and hang out with them ... 'cause I love dogs. I have a dog of my own so just being around dogs all day on set was just awesome."
Were these dogs professional performers throughout?! "There are times on set when they have to keep everything very calm. When you see a dog most people walk up to them saying 'Oh look, a dog. How cute.' And then they try and pet it and everything. The movie dogs on set you can't do that with as they're easily distracted ... like me! So, you just can't come up to them and start petting them and giving them little treats here and there because then they get out of their workspace in their head and then they're all into play mode. Which, when they get into play mode they have to get a different dog. Because there's no way if a dog's in play mode that it's gonna want to work on set."
So, at those times you don't even want people coming up to you and trying to pet you and give you little treats?! "They try to and it drives me crazy! Because I'll be like 'Yeah, treat, treat, treat," he laughs.
For the DVD you also did a PSA for the Humane Society "Yeah, I did that in New York. It was about Fire Safety. So there was a Fire Safety one with Rex and there was also one about making sure you choose the right breed dog for you for the Humane Society."
Were any of your own family pets – such as Diesel, Jell-O or Paws - animals that were rescued from a Humane Society? "Yes, ... but Jell-O recently just passed away. She had something called Fatty Liver Disease and we had to have her put down because she was in a lot of pain. So, we have her sitting on our mantel at home."
In an urn or stuffed and mounted?! "In an urn ... no, she's stuffed," he jokingly laughs.
Has she been replaced yet? "No she hasn't, but we still have Paws. We rescued Paws from the ASPCA in New York. We got Diesel from a dog breeder ... but, you know what, Jell-O was a rescue cat as well from our local ASPCA back home."
Having starred alongside Will Ferrell, Robin Williams and Peter Falk and so many more, are you still star struck by what you do or have you got it all under control? "I think it's a little bit of both. There are times when you work with someone and you're a little bit like 'Wow, I would never have ever expected to be sitting here doing this movie with Robin Williams.' Yeah, there are times when I say that. But, they are just doing the same thing you are, they've just been doing it longer and more consistently than you have. So, they're doing the same thing ... and the thing that we have to realize is they are just normal people. When you break it down, they are just like you and I - they eat, sleep and breathe so in a way they just can't be like Gods! But yeah, there are times when you just go 'Whoa!'"
Tell us more about the big blockbuster you filmed last year "Yeah, I did 'Journey To The Center of The Earth' last Summer and it was so much fun to film. That was one of the best experiences I've had in any film ever. Just all the stunts and all the action ... everything was so much fun."
Will that still be coming out as ‘Journey 3-D’? "Yes, I think they're leaning more towards 'Journey 3-D.' It's in the new technology that James Cameron helped designed where instead of filming it on a regular camera and converting it to 3-D afterwards via computers, this time they actually filmed it with two different lens' and filmed each eye to make it 3-D. So it's really high tech stuff."
Tell me more about your other already-filmed movie ‘Winged Creatures’ (2008) - as it seems a very powerful film, being that it's based around a restaurant murder! "Yes, I finished that one this Spring. It's about a diner shooting; it's almost like a massacre. There's like three or four people that get randomly shot. It's a really, really great movie that has a lot of messages in it. It's very deep and dark and very different from anything that I've ever done before. My character was very deep and complex so I had an awesome time filming that movie."
Finally, has there ever been a rumor started about you that you would now like to take the time to correct?! "Let me think here ... I know there's been times where I've heard something again and again and it's just not true and I always wonder why they keep on saying it. Well, a while back they kept saying I was dating someone who lived in the Philippines and that wasn't true. I have family from the Philippines and they come and visit but I wasn't ever dating anyone from the Philippines. But they kept saying that over and over and over for about a year ago."
Are you currently dating anyone? "I am. She's a local girl from back home ... and she's not from the Philippines," he laughs, one last time.
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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