Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb star in the fantasy film
It's a fantasy adventure for the whole family. AnnaSophia Robb and Josh Hutcherson star in Bridge to Terabithia.
Based on the Katherine Patterson novel, the two outcast kids at school befriend each other and discover a imaginary land. It's directed by Gabor Csupo, the co-creator of Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and Aah, Real Monsters, among many others; he's making his live-action feature film directorial debut.
Both AnnaSophia and Josh were able to play kids; it's a great change of pace from all the recent films which have child actors looking older than they are. "It's great, especially with Jess, my character because he's such a real kid," notes Josh. "He has all of these real kid problems; he's bullied at school, he has a crush on his teacher, his home life with his family isn't great, unfortunately. I've always grown up with a great relationship with my parents and my parents are like a friend to me as well; just that is very good for me to play a character who is different from what I am. It's fun for me to get to portray different characters."
AnnaSophia says entering the world of Terabithia was awesome. "It was a challenge, but it was a good challenge; it was fun. I think just reacting to tennis balls and a man who had a blue suit on, it was hard for me, but I had seen paintings of all these mythical Terabithian creatures. So I really tried to visualize them when I was acting in the scene. I could act like they were attacking me and feel like if the thing was this big, or this big, I would vary how much I would react."
Josh told us he could really relate to the character he played in Bridge to Terabithia. "When I first started acting, I got a lot of crap from kids at school for it. They were being really mean and I didn't understand because I just loved doing it and I didn't know what was wrong with it. It was hurtful to me, but I figured out after going through all of that, that you kind of have to let it go and just let them do that. Eventually if you don't let bother you, they'll stop because that's what they like. They like seeing you kind of getting all upset about it."
AnnaSophia sees it the same, but she's had a slightly different experience. "I still go to the same school I've been going to for ages, since I was in kindergarten; school's been a little bit more generous and nice to me than it has been to Leslie. I've seen bullying, though, and I've heard things in school - people paying other people to call someone fat, you know? And it's just really crazy, mean things that you would never wish on anybody, because that's just torture, especially for a kid, just for their self-esteem. And I know that bullying comes in all shapes and forms, and it doesn't matter how old you are. I mean, a lot of people get bullied at an office when they're adults, and then it also happens on a playground at school. So it's really sad, but I think for those who are out there getting bullied, bullying is just trying to push someone down to make themselves look taller, and there might be - when Jess and Leslie found out with Janice Avery is that she was going through some troubles at home, some personal things. Which doesn't make it any more, it doesn't make it acceptable to be mean to someone just because you're going through personal issues, it just means that the person getting bullied should try to be kind to them, or try to be understanding, or just turn the other cheek, because you can't change anyone, but you can change yourself."
Both of them read the book when they got the part; "When I read it, I totally fell in love with it and as I was reading it, I could so picture the movie coming to life on the pages," Josh says.
For AnnaSophia, it was a double read - the script and the book at the same time. "I thought it transitioned into a movie, or a script, beautifully; they did a really good job of capturing the heart and soul of it, Jeff Stockwell, and David Paterson, of course. I fell in love with the story, like I'm sure many of you have; it's just a really timeless tale about friendship and imagination. I find a new message and new meaning; there's something different every single time. And I think Katherine Paterson did a really beautiful job, and I applaud her; I admire her, too, because she's a really good writer."
Josh says shooting Bridge to Terabithia was kind of difficult to shoot, but he enjoyed every moment. "There were a lot of great scenes and that's one of the reasons I loved playing Jess because he had so many great scenes; it's such a rich role for an actor to get to play. I got to show such a wide range of emotions; I actually worked with Gabor about two weeks before, working on the character arc going from shy and timid and kind of hurt into this new kid that he kind of is where he's open about the world and he's letting his imagination run wild. I love being able to play different diverse characters."
One scene that took longer than normal was a race scene between the young cast; AnnaSophia says Josh took that part a little too seriously. "He's a boy, so he's extremely competitive - what can you say? We, at the beginning, were trying to work out the timing, and Josh says he was just trying to work out the timing. But really, he wanted to show everyone that he was faster than the car that was driving trying to film - that's really what he was trying to prove. But we finally got it worked out. And I was tired by the end of it, just running back and forth, back and forth, doing all these different things." At lunch, he goes, 'Let's race!' I was like, 'Ok, fine Josh, we'll race, fine; whatever you want.' So we say go, and I take off, but then I stopped, and I walk back. I'm just feeling comfortable, because I'm all tired; he gets to the end, and he's all excited, and he turns around, and he's like, 'Yes! I won! I won! I won!' He turns around, and he's like looking for me, and then he realized it was a hoax; his face was so disappointed I actually felt kind of guilty. I was like, 'Jeez, wow, he takes it really serious.' But he's definitely a fast runner."
You should be a fast runner and check out Bridge to Terabithia, in theaters February 16th; it's rated PG.