JOSHUA Hutcherson's life is about to get a little crazy. The Hunger Games, adapted from the first part of Suzanne Collins' book trilogy, opens on both sides of the Atlantic this week.
Hutcherson has already warmed critics' hearts (2005's Little Manhattan), starred in an Academy Award-nominated indie flick (2010's The Kids Are All Right) and travelled to a mysterious island with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (this year's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). But, if the buzz is anything to go by, The Hunger Games looks set to knock both Bruce Wayne and Robert Pattinson out of the water.
The film is set in an apocalyptic world where the remaining teenagers of the 12 districts of Panem (formerly North America) are randomly selected to compete in an annual event known as the Hunger Games. The goal? Kill the other contestants to win the game.
Will the survivor be 16-year-old tough chick Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)? Or will it be her secret admirer, Peeta Mellark (our boy Josh)?
Either way, Aussie heartthrob Liam Hemsworth (playing Gale Hawthorne) is sure to complicate matters.
Something tells me we might have a Twilight-like hysteria on our hands. I'm thinking 'Team Peeta' vs 'Team Gale'.
"I'm doing the best I can to not think about that right now," says Hutcherson (19). I just love making movies and I'm super proud of The Hunger Games."
Does he grapple with the fear of being typecast.
"For me, it's all about working with the right kind of people and being versatile as an actor. I think that switching it up is really important."
Kentucky-born Hutcherson has spent his career mixing it up. The poor lad has even been Robin Williams' hip hop-loving son in 2006's god-awful RV. Yet, The Hunger Games was the first time he'd ever come across a character such as Peeta.
"For me, it was about Peeta and about the story," he enthuses. "I just sort of connect with Peeta on so many levels. He has this belief that, no matter what kind of circumstances he's in or what kind of world he's thrown into, he needs to maintain what he is as a person and what he stands for, and I feel the exact same way."
Hutcherson wouldn't have allowed anyone else to get the part. Probably because he'd already lost out on the Spider-Man reboot (Google his self-produced audition tape for the role of Peter Parker). Or maybe it had something to do with him being a fan of the books. Taking on the part of a modern literary hero can't be easy, though.
"I think it's that way when you tackle any sort of movie that's coming from a popular literature piece," he nods.
"There's a little bit of nerves involved, but at the same time, I'm one of the fans too, so I want to see the movie stay true to the book as possible -- which we did."
Making the transition from child actor to adult favourite is rarely a steady process, but Hutcherson seems to be doing just fine.
"It's been a conscious choice," he explains. "It's definitely been something that I've talked about with my family and with my agents and managers.
"So some of it comes with age, and the parts mature themselves naturally. But then some of it does come from choosing different types of movies, and I think that's really important to be conscious of."
Still, riding atop giant wasps next to The Rock, or competing for one's survival in the distant future sounds like a hell of a lot of fun for a young adult.
"For sure," he laughs. "I definitely feel like a lot of times that I'm on set I'm just a big kid. It's fun being an actor. Every day you get to use your imagination and play make believe, and to get to do that as a job as an adult is incredible."
The Hunger Games is released on Friday