Josh Hutcherson Reflects on His ‘Hunger Games’ Journey As the Movies Land on Streaming
Ready your three finger salute and practice your whistling—The Hunger Games series is streaming exclusively on Tubi!
That’s right, all four installments of the film franchise are available to watch for free on Fox Entertainment’s AVOD streaming service. The blockbuster films, which are based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling book trilogy, first debuted in 2012 with the The Hunger Games followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.
At the center of the dystopian series, set in the fictional country Panem, is Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) a young woman who volunteers for the annual Hunger Games — an event in which two teens are selected from each of the nation’s 12 districts to compete to the death in a televised event — in her kid sister Primrose’s (Willow Shields) place.
Thrust into a deadly game alongside fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss eventually discovers just how dangerous Panem’s power structure is, mainly its leader President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
TV Insider caught up with Hutcherson who reflects on the series’ impact, his role as Peeta and more.
The Hunger Games series has had a major impact on pop culture. How do you still feel it in your own life?
Josh Hutcherson: I personally feel it when people recognize me and they’re fans of The Hunger Games, that’s always the reminder of like, “Oh yeah, you made those movies, and you were Peeta.” I think for me, what’s really cool is to see it connect with such a broad audience, from younger to older [viewers]. It taps into something, that narrative of rising up, of fighting against the top, and wanting to make the world better and fair for everyone, and fighting for justice. That’s a narrative that is still all too familiar, and right now very much resonates. I’m really happy that it’s now going to be streaming for free, which I think is really, really cool. That means even more people can see it and rise up.
Definitely! And you worked on these films for many years, is there any memory or moment that you still think back on fondly?
Yeah. When we were filming in Berlin — we were there for about a month — the whole cast and some of the crew was all staying in the same hotel. We had the whole hotel basically. You open your door and Jen’s running down the hall to pick up some food, or Woody [Harrelson]’s stuff is wafting out of his room. It just felt very much like a summer camp vibe. That was towards the end of the run. We were filming Mockingjay 1 and 2 at that point. We were all really close and it was a really good time.
Why do you think right now is the perfect time to revisit this series?
It touches on a lot of things. I think that breaking it down, any kind of injustice all comes from some kind of classism. Whether it’s racism, whether it’s sexism, any version of that comes from one group thinking that they are better and deserve more than another group. I think that for me, the thing that I take away the most in The Hunger Games is that we’re all humans, and we’re all people, and we all deserve a certain dignity, and quality of life.
In The Hunger Games, you have the Capitol [which] is an oligarchy and it doesn’t look so dissimilar to things that we’re experiencing now. For me, I think that whether it’s for racial justice, for equality among genders, whatever the fight is, I think that it’s all working toward the same goal of wanting equality for all people. I think that these films definitely push that forward.
You’ve been acting for nearly 20 years. How did your experience with The Hunger Games differ from your other projects?
I think it differs in a lot of ways because I feel like a lot of times when you’re an actor, you have to either choose something that’s a smaller indie film that has great characters, and a great story, and great script, or you had to choose a big action, set piece movie. What’s cool about The Hunger Games and how I think it differed is that we were telling a very powerful, personal story with incredible actors, with great characters, but we had the scale of the big movie budget and the world building ability to mix those things together.
Having 85 shooting days to make one movie and that movie having great characters and a great story is something that’s unique. And, just overall the scale and scope is so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done.
Your character Peeta has a lot of great qualities whether it’s his persuasiveness or baking ability. Did you relate in any way to him?
I think for me that the biggest thing I identified with was definitely not baking. I can’t bake [Laughs]. I tried in quarantine and it didn’t work. I think more than his hobbies, it’s his belief to not become a piece in their games and not let the power system or the game itself change who you are or what you believe in. I think that that is something that I try to maintain within myself. That’s probably one of the biggest things that I have in common with Peeta.
Suzanne Collins who penned the books which inspired the films just wrote a President Snow prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. If she were to write more books in that universe with Peeta, would you be willing to reprise your role?
It might take place before Peeta was even born. But, if he were born, I would play him as a baby, if that were possible [Laughs].
You’ve also done quite a bit of work since The Hunger Games wrapped, including Future Man on Hulu. How did your experience with the films influence your subsequent projects?
Sometimes when you do a big series like The Hunger Games, you can get boxed into a certain type of character. And when people see you do something, they want you to keep doing that same thing, because they know that it works. For me, Future Man for example, was a big swing in a different direction. It was a hard R, raunchy comedy was Seth Rogen. It’s very different. I think for me, it’s influenced me in ways that I want to be able to show that I can do other things, and other kinds of projects and not just be beholden to one archetype.
And since we’ve all been in quarantine, what’s something that you’re enjoying on TV at the moment? And if your character Peeta existed in this world, what would he be bingeing?
Right now I just got hooked on I May Destroy You, the HBO series…I’m halfway through it, and my mind is blown. I think it’s phenomenal. I’m definitely hooked on that right now. Then, Peeta would probably watch The Great British Bake Off or one of the baking competition shows, if I had to guess, or American Ninja Warrior [Laughs].
The Hunger Games Series, Streaming now, Tubi