Why Starring In The Hunger Games Was A ‘Double Edged Sword’ For Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games
(Image credit: (Lionsgate))

Josh Hutcherson had a successful career as a child actor in movies like Zathura: A Space Adventure, RV and Bridge to Terabithia before The Hunger Games came along. Once that happened, nothing was ever the same for the actor. Looking back at the high-profile casting almost a decade later, Hutcherson had this to say about his time as Peeta Mellark:

It was worlds apart from anything I have ever experienced. It's like a double-edged sword. Obviously the benefit of having more projects come your way is great. But when I set out to become an actor at 8, being famous and being recognized was not on my radar. I just wanted to make movies.

The Hunger Games movies were a cultural phenomenon that already amassed a huge following from Suzanne Collins’ book trilogy. Josh Hutcherson’s status suddenly saw a boost in popularity similar to the likes of Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter or Robert Pattinson for Twilight in the matter of a day, along with Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth. Hutcherson continued with EW:

That naiveté followed me until The Hunger Games slapped me in the face. It's hard for anybody to digest, especially being a kid from Kentucky. It made me realize the kind of actor I wanted to be. The idea of doing big, big projects that make you even more well-known doesn't sound as appetizing. If that opportunity came up again, I would have to think about it more.

Josh Hutcherson compares this era of his life to a college experience and a “coming-of-age time” for him that he really treasures. He was cast in the film at 19 and finished off the saga four years later with Mockingjay - Part 2. It gave him a well-known name and an unforgettable role, but he admits the experience was a tough transition. Plus, he wasn’t a big fan of the upkeep that came with dying his hair blonde all the time.

Luckily, he had Jennifer Lawrence by his side, another actress with roots from Kentucky who blew up into “J-Law” in her early ‘20s after breaking out in her Oscar-nominated role for Winter’s Bone the year prior. While J-Law propelled further into the spotlight with her role as Mystique in X-Men: First Class (also among her critically-acclaimed work with David O. Russell), Josh Hutcherson has kept a fairly low profile since.

He’s the star of Hulu’s Future Man, but he’s taking a more thoughtful look into his roles. It’s a common response to the effect the YA genre’s big-screen adaptations have on its young actors, and perhaps a word of caution to the future cast of The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes. Suzanne Collins’ prequel to her Hunger Games novels hit bookshelves this week, with a movie deal already in place with Lionsgate.

The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes is about President Snow as a teenager before becoming the leader of Panem. He has a surprising relative on his side at the start of the novel. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates on the coming return of the franchise.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.