Imagine for a moment you’re 18 again, only this time you’re a Hollywood actor just back from Hawaii, where you have been shooting a big blockbuster sequel. Your indie film from this past summer is one of the most buzzed-about films of awards season, and you’ve got four high-profile projects on the way. Can you imagine how you would handle all the attention and responsibility? The Kids Are All Right star Josh Hutcherson doesn’t have to imagine—it’s his life. I caught up with the talented actor at the famed Shanghai Grill in Beverly Hills, where I learned there are normal young stars in this town after all—if only a few.
BEN LYONS: You just got back from Hawaii, where you were shooting Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. After doing a huge 3-D studio movie like that, is it strange to come back to LA, where a little indie you made quite a while ago is now nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture?
JOSH HUTCHERSON: Yeah, it was weird being down there and hearing all the buzz, because it’s not anything I’m used to or was expecting. I don’t even know really how to handle it. I’ve been talking to Mark [Ruffalo]—he’s been my liaison to that world because I don’t have anyone else’s phone numbers. I told him to wish everyone congrats and best of luck. I’m so happy I did that film and got to be a part of it.
BL: When you go toe-to-toe with these industry icons—Annette Bening, Julianne Moore—does it make you a better actor?
JH: Being around living legends—and I’m working with another one right now, Michael Caine—you can’t help but just watch them and see how they work and present who they are in their characters. They don’t make conscious decisions; they exist as their characters. That’s something I always want to do because as an actor, I believe it’s your job to portray real life, and when you see someone so effortlessly real like that, that’s what I learn from.
BL: Tell me a great Michael Caine story.
JH: Oh man, he’s the one with the great stories. We were on set the other day, and he’s talking about going to Las Vegas for the first time on a private jet with Frank Sinatra. What?! Then he was talking about one time he was at a charity event; John Wayne was there and had to read some Shakespeare, and halfway through reading the lines, he looks up and says, “Who wrote this crap, anyway?” His stories are incredible!
BL: In addition to Journey 2, you have another big movie coming out called Red Dawn. What made you want to go after that one?
JH: I’m a fan of war and action movies. I’ve always wanted to do one, and Red Dawn is a classic so many people love. It’s a really cool story about kids fighting for something much bigger than them. It was an awesome shoot. I got to fire so many different types of weapons and blow up so much stuff. I loved it.
BL: As your career has taken off, do you have new people coming to you for things or trying to be your friend?
JH: I believe people are genuinely good. I don’t like to see the bad in people, so because of that, I could see myself falling into a bad situation. But thankfully, I haven’t yet.