At 19, Josh Hutcherson has already appeared in nearly 30 films, but none as hotly anticipated as “The Hunger Games.”

Pic is based on the bestselling dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins, and Hutcherson is set to play the beloved tribute fighter Peeta Mellark.

“Peeta is the closest version of myself that I’ve ever gotten to play in a movie,” Hutcherson says. “His core belief is not letting the world around him change who he is. I have never let anything around me affect what I believe, which is that you treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Living by that golden rule, which was law in Hutcherson’s Kentucky family while he was growing up, is working for him in Hollywood. Last year he co-starred in Lisa Cholodenko’s Oscar-nominated “The Kids Are All Right,” where he received strong notices playing the son of a longtime lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore).

Upcoming releases include “Journey 2: Mysterious Island,” (the sequel to “Journey to the Center of the Earth”), the indie “Detention,” and slated for 2013, the potential “Hunger” sequel “Catching Fire.”

The busy young actor has always been ambitious. At 9 years old, he called a talent agent in nearby Cincinnati and asked how to get into showbiz.

“I was persistent; some would say annoying,” Hutcherson laughs, and adds his first paying job was as an extra in a Bible study video. “I was driven to be an actor because I find people so interesting. I wanted to get inside different perspectives.”

Hutcherson never took acting classes, but learned from working with vets such as Donald Sutherland and Stanley Tucci.

“I’ve watched the greats that have been doing this all their lives,” he says, “and how they slip in and out of characters effortlessly.”

The toughest thing for Hutcherson remains sitting still. He tries to burn off his energy playing pickup basketball, riding a motorcycle and won’t even complain about doing his chores.

That constant motion ultimately translates to his bigscreen work. Work hard, keep your head down and make a good impression.

“I’ve matured but kept that same mentality: Go for it and don’t holding anything back.”

Lucky break: “‘Polar Express.’ I was with Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks and I was playing the lead kid. Maybe they saw I was an older soul in a little kid’s body and I had this passion and drive for acting.”
Favorite film: “No, but I loved ‘Somewhere.’ As an actor you feel like your job is to give people pieces of you and then all of a sudden there’s nothing left for just you, and that is kind of what that movie’s about.”
Career I’d like to emulate: Ryan Gosling, Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale. “I like how real their style is. They convey so much through a look, a little smile or the tone. That’s how real life is.”

Benedict Cumberbatch | Jean Dujardin | Luke Evans | Josh Hutcherson | Felicity Jones | Taylor Kitsch | Brit Marling | Elizabeth Olsen | Octavia Spencer | Shailene Woodley