Why Josh Hutcherson Likened ‘The Hunger Games’ to a College Experience

Though Josh Hutcherson has appeared in a handful of major blockbuster movies — Bridge to Terabithia, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Zathura, and more — he is best known for playing Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games franchise. He’s the baker’s son from District 12 — the strong boy with a heart of gold — who captures Katniss Everdeen’s heart (eventually). 

Josh Hutcherson rose to stardom on the back of The Hunger Games, and he remains intimately connected to the franchise and the character in fans’ minds. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hutcherson reflected on some of his most well-known Hollywood roles, and he explained why starring in The Hunger Games was his version of a college experience. 

Josh Hutcherson of The Hunger Games
Actor Josh Hutcherson arrives at the AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi – screening of ‘The Disaster Artist’ | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Josh Hutcherson talks about ‘The Hunger Games’

Before The Hunger Games, Josh Hutcherson had yet to step out on his own in a role; he had yet to depart his hometown and his family for an extended period of time to work on a project. He explained: 

It was like my college…That was like such a coming-of-age time for me. It was the first time I was away from my family, and on my own.


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While Josh Hutcherson was presumably ready to take on the character and excited for the opportunity, the fame that followed was untraversed territory for the young acter. He told EW that he would have to think before taking on a role with such a sizable worldwide presence again. He said:

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. 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.


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What has Josh Hutcherson been up to since ‘The Hunger Games?’

Josh Hutcherson has starred in a handful of movies and shows, but, sticking to his comments above, they have not been as “big” as The Hunger Games. Josh Hutcherson played Josh Futturman in the TV series Future Man from 2017 to 2020. He also starred as Billy in 2019’s Burn and Ryan in Paquita Salas. Hutcherson also appeared as Denny in The Disaster Artist.

As for upcoming projects, Josh Hutcherson will play Ricco in the TV movie Rita, which is currently in post-production. The movie will follow a headstrong mother and teacher who confronts all types of authority (and her family) in unconventional ways. Hutcherson will act alongside Lena Headey and Lauren Stamile.

Hutcherson is also set to star in 2020’s The Long Home as Nathan Winer, which will follow a man hired to build a honky-tonk by the guy who killed his father. The film will also star James Franco.