Josh Hutcherson discusses working with a dog as your co-star, as well as his upcoming projects Journey 3-D and Winged Creatures
At the age of 14, Josh Hutcherson is already a highly accomplished actor. Having shared the screen with the likes of Robin Williams (RV) and Will Ferrell (Kicking and Screaming), and even starred in such films as Little Manhattan and Zathura, this young actor has already shown an incredible range.
In Firehouse Dog, the world's most famous - and Hollywood's most pampered - pooch is separated from his owner and ends up as the mascot of a hapless fire station. There, he helps a 12-year-old boy (Hutcherson) and his father (Bruce Greenwood), a veteran fire chief, turn the station into the city's finest.
Josh Hutcherson recently sat down with us to discuss making this film.
Can you tell the readers about your character Shane Fahey in Firehouse Dog?
Josh Hutcherson: Shane Fahey is this rebel, skater kid and he ditches school sometimes and his dad is a firefighter. He's an only father and he works long, long shifts. So his dad is never really around and this dog sort of comes into his life and just makes everything even more difficult.
What attracted you to this film?
Josh Hutcherson: For some reason it had such a great feel to me. It was unlike any other dog movie because it had such a cool storyline. It was so different than any other dog movie I had ever seen and ever heard of. That's what really attracted me to it is that it was so unique.
What's that like working with a dog as your co-star? Was there a lot of bonding on and offscreen?
Josh Hutcherson: Yeah, we did, we had to. We had like two weeks of rehearsal periods before the movie actually started. In that time they wanted me and the dog to bond some. So we did and there's like four different dogs that played the one character. So I had to bond with all four of the dogs. That's a lot but it was good.
What did that bonding consist of?
Josh Hutcherson: Well, they had me give him treats and stuff like that, and just kind of pet him and hang out with him. The problem is, if we bond with too much like a friendship then when we're on set trying to work, he's trying to listen to the trainers and everything, all he wants to do is play with me. So we kind of have to make sure that there's a fine line between a business relationship and a personal relationship... with a dog!
What for you is the big theme of Firehouse Dog?
Josh Hutcherson: I think it's really just an uplifting story. It's a feel good movie. It makes you feel good but at parts you get worried about some stuff, like, "Oh no, is the dog going to be there or not?" It's just a really uplifting story. I think one of the biggest things is not to judge a book a by it's cover. When I first met the dog and it started getting me into trouble and stuff, I just automatically assumed that he's gonna be like that forever and that he's always going to be a little troublemaker. Then, as I got to know him better, I really wanted to keep him and become good friends with him.
What for you was the most fun part of making this movie?
Josh Hutcherson: Oh man, I think getting to work with the dogs. I love dogs. Getting to work with them on set every single day was awesome. The problem is that my dog got jealous. I was spending so much time on set with the other dog, that he was like, "Hey man, what's up? What's going on?"
So did you bring your own dog to the set?
Josh Hutcherson: I did. I couldn't actually bring him on the set. He was in my dressing room and stuff, but I couldn't bring him on the set because he would distract the other dogs that were trying to work. (Laughs)
It's just so funny talking about this because we're talking about dogs but it all makes sense.
Josh Hutcherson: I know and they're so serious about it too. They won't let you pet the dog, you have to ask them, and they have to have certain times where they can pet it. It was all strict and stuff!
Having done a bunch of different kinds of movies do you have a preference? For instance, I saw you in Zathura, but I also saw you in Little Manhattan... those are pretty different films. Has that always been your goal to mix it up like that?
Josh Hutcherson: Yeah, that's what I love doing. I love doing roles and movies that are different from each other. That's kind of why I like to be an actor because I get to play different characters and pretend I'm different people going through different situations. Getting to do different genres of movies means you're gonna have different types of situations and stuff like that. So I want to try and do every type of genre there is out there.
Josh Hutcherson:Journey 3-D that's with Brendan Fraser and it's coming out August 8, 2008, so that's a ways away.
Who do you play in that?
Josh Hutcherson: I play Brendan Fraser's nephew and my character's name is Sean. Winged Creatures is a very dark independent film and that one is a great, great script. I love it. It's like the best script I ever read. I'm filming that right now here in L.A., actually. It's great, it has a huge cast. Forest Whitaker, Kate Beckinsale, Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley, tons and tons of huge, nominated Academy Award winnings actors and actresses and I am just so happy I get to be a part of it; and involved with this script. It's just an amazing feeling to get to work with all these great people in such a great, quality project.
Firehouse Dog hits theaters nationwide on April 4 from 20th Century Fox.