He is not the stereotypical L.A.-based teen actor: The nearly-15-year-old rising star Josh Hutcherson — he’s appeared in 13 films in just four years — lives in his tiny hometown of Union, Ky., where until last year he was home-schooled by his mother, Michelle. And with the exception of occasional meetings with his manager, studio execs and producers, he doesn’t even hang out much in Hollywood.
“I’ve actually only filmed a couple of movies in L.A. The rest of my movies have been in Canada, New Zealand, Iceland,” Hutcherson says. “Whenever I get done filming, I come home and just kick it. I go back to my regular life in Kentucky. For me, that’s the best of both worlds.”
So far, Hutcherson’s balancing act is working just fine. His touching performance opposite AnnaSophia Robb in “Bridge to Terabithia” received high praise for the kind of emotional depth many adult actors can’t pull off.
And since the adaptation was produced by family-film specialists Walden Media, Hutcherson solidified himself as the go-to guy for its revolutionary 3-D project “Journey 3D.”
“When I first heard ‘3D,’ I was like, ‘I don’t know,”’ he says. “But then I read the amazing script and realized this is the wave of the future. Working on a set with a brand-new technology was unbelievable.”
But Hutcherson doesn’t want to get pigeonholed in fantasy adventures (“Journey” is his third after “Zathura” and “Terabithia”) or family comedies. So this fall he’ll earn his indie cred in “Winged Creatures,” an ensemble drama co-starring Kate Beckinsale, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley and Dakota Fanning.
“It’s a darker script about a random diner shooting and how people’s lives are affected by post-traumatic stress afterwards, so that was definitely a big shift from ‘Bridge’or ‘Journey,’ ” he says. “But that’s what I wanted: a role playing a deep character surrounded by awesome actors.”
Recent breakthrough: ”’Bridge to Terabithia’ opened the most doors for me,” he says, but “Firehouse Dog” also helped his exposure.
Role model: “Jake Gyllenhaal. He chose projects not based on potential box office but for the most diverse characters and stories. That’s how I want to go about my career.”
What’s next: The ensemble indie drama “Winged Creatures” and next summer’s “Journey 3D.”