The older of two boys born to Union, KY residents Chris and Michelle Hutcherson on Oct. 12, 1992, Joshua Ryan Hutcherson knew that he wanted to become an actor when he was just four years old. At nine, he informed his parents that he wanted to try his hand at the movies, and after scouring the local edition of the Yellow Pages for an acting coach, he filmed a screen test. The coach confirmed what Hutcherson already knew - he was ready for features - so the family lit out for Hollywood to try their hand at auditions. He found work almost immediately in two pilots, but neither were picked up by their respective networks; Hutcherson then began landing guest shots on television series and in features, beginning with "Miracle Dogs" (Animal Planet, 2002), a family-oriented drama about a young boy whose puppies have the ability to heal cancer patients. His feature debut came a year later in the indie hit American Splendor (2003), where he played an enthusiastic trick-or-treater whose Halloween is somewhat soured by the presence of a young Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti).
Hutcherson's natural screen presence quickly elevated him to more substantial roles; he was top-billed in "Eddie's Father" (The WB, 2004), a pilot for an updated version of "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" (ABC, 1969-1972), and co-starred with Peter Falk and Tim Daly in the family drama "Wilder Days" (TNT, 2003). Blessed with an expressive voice, he soon added animated features and television to his growing résumé, including the English language version of the critically acclaimed Japanese animated film, Howl's Moving Castle (2005), and additional motion-capture work for the young hero of The Polar Express (2004). The following year, Hutcherson impressed audiences as the wistful young hero of the indie drama "Little Manhattan." As a young New Yorker who struggles with both his parents' separation and his first love, he showed a maturity and depth of performance beyond his years, which he repeated in the Jon Favreau-directed science fiction adventure, Zathura (2005). In the film, he played a young suburban boy whose tinkering with a mysterious board game launches his family's house into space, where he is forced to act in a responsible manner to protect his sister (Kristen Stewart) and younger brother. Though he won a Young Artist Award for his work on the film, neither "Manhattan" nor "Zathura," succeeded at the box office, relegating Hutcherson to best-kept secret status.
A supporting role as Robin Williams' weightlifting and hip-hop-loving son in the wan comedy RV (2006) provided Hutcherson with a modest hit, while Firehouse Dog (2007) was a harmless family comedy that paired his troubled teen with a famous acting dog on the lam. He soon returned to more substantial fare with a film adaptation of the much-loved novel Bridge to Terabithia (2007). As an aspiring artist who discovers an imaginary world with another outcast student (AnnaSophia Robb), Hutcherson was widely praised for his work, which earned him two Young Artist Awards (Best Leading Actor and Best Ensemble). He then turned to darker fare with Fragments (2009), a heavy-handed drama about the survivors of a mass murder spree. Hutcherson again gave a sensitive performance as a young man who was struck mute after witnessing the murder of several restaurant patrons by a crazed gunman.
Hutcherson returned to Hollywood fare in 2008 with "Journey to the Center of the Earth," an effects-laden, 3-D driven action epic with Brendan Fraser as an adventurer following his late brother's map into the bowels of the Earth along with Hutcherson as his reluctant nephew. A major hit with teen audiences in the summer of 2008, it, along with "Terabithia," helped to mint the teenaged actor as a crush-worthy favorite among young female moviegoers. Hutcherson further pleased teen viewers by joining the case of Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009), an adaptation of the popular young adult horror series by Darren Shan. In the film, which earned mixed reviews, he played the inquisitive friend of the book's hero - also named Darren Shan - whose desire to become a vampire forces Shan to become a half-bloodsucker and servant to John C. Reilly's Larten Crepsley. Hutcherson then returned to indie fare for The Kids Are All Right (2010), which was the subject of considerable buzz during the 2009-10 festival season. A gentle comedy-drama about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) whose children (Mia Wasikowska and Hutcherson) seek out the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) who fathered them, the film generated almost uniformly positive reviews, including praise for Hutcherson as Laser, a thoughtful young sports enthusiast utterly confused by his hippiefied biological father.
Hutcherson next transitioned back to big-budget mainstream adventure with the sequel "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" (2012). This time paired with his stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) and a beautiful young tour guide (Vanessa Hudgens), his character traveled to Jules Verne's mythical island where giant insects, the lost city of Atlantis and Captain Nemo's submarine all resided, inexplicably undetected by the outside world for centuries. Far more anticipated and critically appraised was the film Hutcherson appeared in next - the blockbuster adaptation of the best-selling book series The Hunger Games (2012). The grim story of a dystopian future society in which teenagers are randomly selected and forced to fight each other in a televised battle to the death, the movie starred Jennifer Lawrence as the young heroine Katniss Everdeen, a fellow contestant who Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) has loved since childhood. Buoyed by an established loyal fan base and a deftly executed marketing campaign, "The Hunger Games" was set to break records previously set by the "Twilight" franchise and was sure to elevate Hutcherson to A-list status in the process.
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