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Warner Bros. Pictures
Josh Hutcherson, right, stars with Brendan Fraser in “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Teen star enjoys ‘Journey' of role

‘Fun' stunts attracted actor to film

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Josh Hutcherson traveled into space in “Zathura,” into a magical world in “Bridge to Terabithia” and across the country in “RV,” so it was easy for him to stretch his imagination to take a “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

That’s not to say the film shoot wasn’t hard on his body.

“Most of it was very, very tough,” says Hutcherson, who saw his film make $12.3 million at the box office over last weekend. “Every single day – day in, day out – was constantly running, jumping, diving, yelling, screaming, beating away creatures.

“It was just non-stop physical the entire time. ... It’s actually one of the reasons why I signed up to do the movie because I love stunts and I love sports, so (as) I was reading the script ... I was like, ‘OK, that’s gonna be fun, that’s gonna be fun, that’s gonna be really fun.’ ”

The action was even better than he expected. The sequence in which he crosses a bottomless gorge by leaping from one floating magnetic rock to another “definitely blew me away,” he says.

“That was so cool,” says the 15-year-old from Union, Ky., a town near Cincinnati. “It was like a green screen, and then it had the different rocks that I was jumping on. Each one was on a different mechanism.

“One was on air pistons, and one was on an inner tube, and the one where I grabbed on and it flipped me all the way around, they called that the rotisserie rock. It was on a rotisserie-chicken-looking thing.”

In “Journey,” Hutcherson plays a 13-year-old who travels to Iceland with the scientist uncle he barely knows, played by Brendan Fraser, and they wind up falling through a volcanic tube into a world described by Jules Verne in his 1864 novel. During a visit to Knoxville for a benefit screening of “Journey,” Hutcherson praises his co-star.

“Brendan’s really great,” the young actor says. “He’s really just silly. He’s a goofball. He’s 6-foot-2 of kid. He’s a really great guy to hang out with.”

Hutcherson says he and his family were fans before they even met Fraser.

“We loved ‘The Mummy,’ ‘Blast From the Past’ – all those movies we’re really big fans of, so it was really cool to work with him.”

Living with his parents and younger brother in Kentucky, Hutcherson has managed to act in two-dozen film and TV projects while maintaining a fairly regular life – if “regular life” includes taking one’s family along on jobs in Canada, Iceland, Japan and New Zealand. He’s confident he won’t fall into some of the traps that ruin young actors.

“My parents would kill me, first of all,” he says. “The thing is, like, for me, it’s not even just about the fact that it’s morally wrong ... anything that’s just so unbelievably stupid with drugs, alcohol, anything like that ... but I’d be so embarrassed as a human being for people to know and think that I did stuff like that.”

Hutcherson knows how the media and fans can intrude into the lives of actors, but he’s willing to play the publicity game.

“You put a lot of hard work and a lot of effort into a project, and you hope people see it and you get some credit for it,” the photography buff says. “It’s nice every now and then just to see that people are appreciative of the work you do.

“But I never take any of that for granted. ... If anybody ever wants to talk to me, come up to me, ask for a picture, I’m always ready and willing and happy to do it ’cause that’s just how I’ve been raised.”