Josh Hutcherson   
Interviewed by Mark SellsNovember 2005
Josh Hutcherson is one of the busiest 13 year olds in the business. And his career just got a mega-boost from the "Jumanji" inspired intergalactic adventure, "Zathura." In the film, Josh plays Walter Budwing, the oldest of two brothers, who is pulled through space by way of a magical board game. And it lends itself to lots of action - battling lizard like Zorgons, avoiding a malfunctioning robot, and hiding from deadly meteor showers. Of course, it's all in a day's work for this amazing young actor. Says, Josh: "I just love to do anything physical."

Amassing an out-of-this world resume, Josh has worked with some of the best in the business. He shared "Hero Boy" responsibilities with Tom Hanks in the smash hit, "The Polar Express," last December, a role that earned him a Young Artist Award. He then went on to voice Markl, one of the leading characters in the critically acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki feature, "Howl's Moving Castle." And in this summer's "Kicking & Screaming," he played Bucky Weston, Robert Duvall's son and soccer superstar opposite Will Ferrell. But it was really his role in "Little Manhattan," that elevated Josh from the supporting shadows into the limelight. In the film, Josh plays a mature 11 year-old boy who experiences love for the very first time.

It's the kind of coming-of-age role that demonstrates a high degree of talent. And for this Kentucky native, there doesn't appear to be any slowing down. Soon, he'll be starring in the family comedy "Firehouse Dog." But not before the Barry Sonnenfeld comedy, "R.V.," in which he plays Robin Williams' son. It's a physically demanding schedule, along with school, sports, guitar, and remote control cars. But Josh wouldn't have it any other way. For him, the sky is the limit.
"Zathura" Review  |   "Zathura" trailer

Reel Questions, Reel Answers

First, tell me how you got involved with "Zathura." What attracted you to the story? And how familiar were you with Chris Van Allsburg's book prior to filming?
Well, I got involved with Zathura by my agent who sent me the script and I read it. It was so good because my character Walter is a lot like me (just I'm not as mean to my little brother). He liked sports and so did I. And he had a little brother and so do I. Plus all the action seemed really cool. I was familiar with Chris Van Allsburg because I was "Hero Boy" in Polar Express too, but I hadn't read Zathura at that point.

In the film, you play Walter Budwing, the older but bad tempered brother. What qualities do you most admire in him? What flaws does he overcome?
Well, I admire the fact that he likes sports, but I don't admire the way he treats his little brother. Although, I have a little brother and I understand how Danny got on his nerves. I think that through their adventures Walter realizes he has to respect Danny and consider his feelings.
Knowing what you know about the game, Zathura…if you really discovered it in your basement, would you play the game?
I don't think I'd play it because I feel much better here on Earth and much safer!
One of the things that stood out to me in the film was the realistic portrayal of the sibling rivalry (reminded me of my own!) - the constant arguing, bickering, and competing. What was your relationship like with Jonah Bobo on and off the set?
Well, Jonah is an awesome kid. I have a little brother so I'm used to hanging out with someone younger than me and how that all works. He was so much fun; it was actually hard to yell at him sometimes in the movie because he's such a cool kid.

What is your relationship like with your real life brother (Connor)?

Funny thing is, it's very similar to that in Zathura. I'm not quite as mean, but we ALWAYS fight! He's a lot like Danny. Connor is into video games, board games and not into sports and I'm the opposite so we fight about what to play and when we were watching the movie and my dad (Tim Robbins) was on the phone and you hear Danny & I upstairs fighting, my real parents looked at each other and were like, "did they record you and Connor?" It was funny!
How different was it working with Jon Favreau versus any of the other directors you've worked with? Was there anything that he did differently than anybody else?
Jon Favreau is an amazing director and an awesome person to work with. He's so great as a director because he's an actor too so he has an actor's perspective and directs from that. It was so cool to work with him.

What was your favorite memory or moment from the making of "Zathura?"

My favorite memory of Zathura was actually the whole thing because we got to be on one lot filming for almost 6 months. It was so cool because since we didn't move around, we got to decorate my trailer for all the holidays and it really felt like home away from home. The props guys and art department helped me build a little graveyard outside my trailer for Halloween and stuff. Filming Zathura was the BEST experience of my whole life.
What was your worst or least favorite part?
I don't have a least favorite part...that's the truth. It was so much fun!

You've got a pretty impressive resume full of voice over work, from "The Polar Express" to Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle" to "Justice League: Unlimited." What has been your favorite so far? The most challenging?
My favorite was Justice League because unlike other voice overs they actually brought in the whole cast to record it together. Usually you're in a room all by that was fun. The most challenging was "Howls' Moving Castle" because I was only in L.A. for a day so we had to record an entire movie in one day. There was quite a bit of dialogue and I did all in about 8 hours...I could barely talk afterwards. Plus I had to make my words match another language mouth movements so it was tricky.

You've worked with some of the industry's leading talents - Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Robert Duvall, Will Ferrell, Tim Robbins, etc. What's the best advice that any one of them ever gave you?
Well it's hard to say because they don't really give any advice. I just learn from watching them. Like with Robin Williams, it was so cool to see someone of his talent and status to just do what the director asked and as many times as he asked and Robin never got frustrated. I just thought that was so impressive to see.
Tell me a little about "R.V.," your involvement, and what it was like to play Robin Williams' son. You guys didn't play any board games by chance, did you?
R.V. was so much fun. We had an amazing cast! We all got along so well and since it was on location, we all did tons of stuff together away from the set and became great friends. Working with Robin is like watching Robin do stand-up constantly! It was so unbelievable to watch him do amazing improv -- what was fun was getting to improv along with him because I love to do that and to now have done that with Robin Williams still blows my mind!

What is your favorite subject in school? And where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Are you still acting?
I think my favorite subject is Math. 10 years from now I'm hoping I'll be continuing my acting career and building my resume and maybe getting ready to direct my first film!!!!
I heard that you recently got a new puppy. What kind of dog is it? What's its name? And will you train he/she to be a Hollywood stunt dog, like Rexxx in "Firehouse Dog?"
Yes I'm so excited! My dog is a boxer and his name is Diesel. We got him when he was 10 weeks old and he's turning 7 months on Sunday. He's not going to be a Hollywood dog, just mine. He'll travel with us everywhere. He' s been to Vancouver, Kentucky and now Toronto.

I just started playing the guitar this year and I heard that you also play. What is your favorite style? What kind of music/songs do you play?
I'm just learning to play the guitar too. It's taking a while because I don't always bring it with me on location. My favorite song to play is "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Other than guitar, when you're not on location or working, what do you like to do in your free time? Something about triathlons?

Actually I love all sports, especially football and soccer. I've recently started playing tennis. While I was filming RV I trained for and competed in my first triathlon. I came in 3rd! I just started training last week for another one. I just love to do anything physical. Oh, my other favorite hobby is remote control cars. I have one that is gas powered and goes like 50 mph.

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"I just love to do anything physical."
"I have a little brother and I understand how Danny got on his nerves."
"I feel much better here on Earth and much safer!"
"Filming 'Zathura' was the BEST experience of my whole life."
"Working with Robin is like watching Robin do stand-up constantly!"