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Interview: Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens

3rd February 2012

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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the new adventure film starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta from upcoming film The Hunger Games) Vanessa Hudgens and Michael Caine. TNS grabbed a chat with Hutcherson and Hudgens ahead of the release…

The Journey 2TNS: Josh, was this like going back to the same place as you were on the first movie, or was this a totally different experience? 

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  There was such a big gap between the two that it felt like an entirely different movie.  It was nice though.  I mean, when I heard the cast that we were going to get, I was really excited about it.  You’d never think that we’d be in a movie together.  It makes no sense, honestly.  But we are, and it was an absolute blast.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  The whole cast.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I mean, Luis Guzmán, Michael Caine, Dwayne Johnson, myself and Vanessa.  It was like, wait, what is this?  That makes no sense. 

TNS:  Vanessa, what was it for you?  Was it a whole different kind of thing from what you’ve done up to this point? 

VANESSA HUDGENS:  I’ve never done a 3D movie before.  So, to be able to jump in this and see the end result was just so cool.  I’ve never been able to enjoy a movie that I’ve done like I do with this.

TNS:  What was the creepiest thing you encountered in the jungle while you were shooting this movie in Hawaii? 


VANESSA HUDGENS:  There were centipedes.  The centipedes that were crawling around were just so disgusting and massive.  And all their little legs crawling freaked me out.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  A hundred of them, roughly.

TNS:  What about you, Josh, anything weird?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I’m a man.  Let’s see.  No, the bugs definitely were a little much at times for sure, especially when you’re sitting there and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s an ant.  Oh, my God, it’s an anthill,’ and there are like nine million ants crawling all over you.  It’s a little scary at times.

TNS:  The tattoo you have on your wrist—is it in the movie?


TNS:  Did you do that for the movie?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  No, no.  I got this done when I was like sixteen or so.  It’s a Libra sign.  I’m a Libra, obviously.  And there’s a star for each of my family members as well.  Family is a big part of my life.

TNS:  In some movies, it might not work, but in this movie, did the director think it was appropriate? 


JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah, because Sean is an adventurous guy who has gone around and traveled a bunch.  I talked with Brad [Peyton], our director, about it, and we decided just to keep it.  But in the movie I did after Journey, The Hunger Games, we covered it up every day.

TNS:  What were your toughest stunts for this?  Was it in the water?  Was it riding the bees? 

VANESSA HUDGENS:  I think, for me, it was the water because I have a pet peeve that is so ridiculous, I know, but I hate getting my face wet and fully submersing myself under the water, and opening my eyes and acting underwater.  It aggravates me; I don’t know why.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I just think it’s funny that it actually aggravates you to have your face wet.  It’s just a funny thing to say.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  It’s just a feeling, I don’t know.


TNS:  And there’s that whole drowning thing.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Yeah, that would be the worst way to die for me.

TNS:  I’ve heard the tank was pretty tough and that you were 25 feet underwater?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  The tank was tough.  It was hard because there was one point where Dwayne and I were actually down there for almost an hour without coming up to the surface once.  Everybody else had scuba gear on and we didn’t.  So, literally, we’d do the take on like one breath.  And they’d cut and we’d like blindly fumble over to get some air.  And that was pretty challenging. 

TNS:  Mind over matter?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah, exactly, because you’re sort of like, ‘I don’t have a breathing apparatus and I’m not made to be underwater this long, so this is kind of strange.’  That was pretty challenging.

TNS:  When you say blindly, does that mean you couldn’t really see under there?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah, it was hard.  They had to use chlorine and whatnot in the pool to keep it from being dangerous for us to be in, so it was kind of hard to open your eyes at times. 

TNS:  Josh, could you tell us how you started acting?  How did you get into all this?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I, from the age of like four years old, always loved entertaining people and putting on little shows and faking sick and getting out of school.  I told my parents I wanted to be in movies.  And, being from Kentucky, there’s really not much of an industry in that area where I’m from.

So, I got in touch with an agency through a phone book from Cincinnati when I was nine years old, and I told them I wanted to be an actor.  My parents were like, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to have to do this with him or else he’s going to literally just take off and go do it at nine years old.’

So, we went with them, and I met an acting coach from New York who said we should go to California for pilot season.  And I convinced my parents to go out there.  My mom and I got in our car and drove out to Los Angeles and stayed in a motel and started to do the movie business out there.

Then, I had a connection.  The acting coach had a connection to some small agencies, so I met with them, and one of them took me on and I just started auditioning.  I was doing like four or five auditions a day, running around town, and getting a lot of callbacks but never really booking anything.  And then finally I got a small TV movie, a lead in a small TV movie called Miracle Dogs for Animal Planet.  And, slowly, the credits started building from there.

TNS:  Were you a dog?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  No.  I was not a dog.  I played a little boy who found these dogs that could lick people and heal them.  [Laughs]  We all start somewhere, guys, come on.

TNS:  You got a phone book as a little kid?  What were you thinking?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I was thinking that I’m going to be in movies however I can.  I don’t know.  I was pretty good at figuring things out as a little kid.  So I was like, phone book, that’s logical, let’s look up talent agent, that’s logical.

TNS:  Both of you have had success as teenagers, and it’s such a tough business.  Have you ever thought of what you’d do if you hadn’t? 

VANESSA HUDGENS:  I think there are definitely projects that you truly invest yourself in and can only hope for the best.  But we do this because we’re so passionate about it.  I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.  I love it with all of my heart, and I will always fight for anything that I want — I was going to say to the death, but that’s a bit intense.  But, yeah, I will always continue to do what I love.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah.  It’s hard because with every single role, you’re not going to get a role unless you invest your whole heart into it, but then you also don’t get a lot of them.  So, it’s a lot of little letdowns over time.  And like with The Hunger Games, for instance, I said out loud that if I didn’t get that, I didn’t know what I was going to do. 

I didn’t know what that meant because I had no idea what I was going to do.  I was going to keep acting, obviously, but I had never read a role that I felt I connected with as much and that I felt like I was more right for in my life.  So, if I didn’t get it, I was like, ‘What am I, just a bad actor then?’  Because if that’s so much who I am, how can I not even play myself?

TNS:  Vanessa, can you talk about being the tough girl in this particular movie when you also focused on education and a loving relationship with your father?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  I think it’s a beautiful character.  I mean, she definitely stands up for herself just as I think that all women should stand up for themselves.  We’re strong, we’re powerful, and Kailani definitely sticks with that.  I love her relationship with her father because I’m very close to my family.

But it’s like the kind of thing when you’re at a certain age where your parents seem like the most embarrassing thing on the whole entire planet and you want to be nowhere near them.  But, at the end of the day, you know that you can’t literally do anything without them, like, you love your parents through and through, and they love you probably even more than you could ever imagine until you’re a parent yourself.

TNS:  Kailani also has the upper hand always with Sean, it seems.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Women tend to. [Laughs]  Yeah, it’s definitely a funny relationship.  In the beginning, she wants nothing to do with him.  I mean, he’s just another American tourist.  But through everything, I feel like he really opens her eyes and heart to adventure, which is an amazing gift to be able to give someone.

TNS:  Can you both talk about the idea that these are fantastic stories that you are making real in this film? 

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah.  I think that there are a lot of times when you’re on set and you have a green screen you’re working with where you’ll pretend there’s a giant lizard chasing you when there’s nothing there.  You kind of have to go for it.  In order to sell it to the audience, you can’t really hold back.

I think that was the biggest thing for me—being shown the images of what the creatures were going to look like and then having to react to them realistically without feeling like you’re a crazy person.

So in that sense, making a fantastical world real is a bit of a challenge, for sure.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  I think that Hawaii definitely was a large part of making everything real.  I mean, to shoot such magical places, Hawaii definitely has them.  We would go out to these valleys and I would show up to work and almost be in tears by how moving and how stunning these places were. 

TNS:  And how scary the centipedes were?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  How scary the centipedes were, yeah.  I think it definitely added that extra magical element.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  As far as making it real, I think that in a story like this, the emotional journey is so important because it is such a fantastical world but human emotion is something that everybody can connect to.  So, when you have the emotions of Sean getting to warm up to his stepfather and Kailani getting to trust Sean, you have those character elements, that kind of brings it down to reality for sure.

TNS:  Did The Rock show you guys the ‘pec pop’ or did you guys learn that from him?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I just saw it when he did it in the scene.  It’s pretty intense.

TNS:  Tell us about working with Dwayne Johnson, or tell us about The Rock experience.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  D.J., he’s awesome.  He really is an extremely large guy.  I thought that he was going to be big, but you just can’t really imagine how massive a human being can be until you meet him.  But he’s just such an incredibly sweet guy.  I mean, he’s very, very genuine, really funny, very silly, and, I mean, very charming.

TNS:  You are working together for the first time on this film.  What surprised each of you about the other?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  How carefree Josh is, I think.  In the business, I feel like there are some people who care about what other people think and kind of try to morph themselves into something they’re not.  And it’s really refreshing when you meet people who are very true to themselves.  Josh here is very true to himself, and he’s very silly and kind of crazy, just like me.  So, it was nice to have a partner in crime when it comes to just being a ‘spaz.’

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  What surprised me about Vanessa, I think, is when you see a lot of leading ladies in Hollywood, they can tend to take themselves very seriously and listen to their press and whatnot.  And Vanessa doesn’t.  She doesn’t take herself seriously — in a good way.  So, that was nice to see and very refreshing.

TNS:  What was going on behind the scenes of this movie?  Were there pranks?  It looks like it was a lot of fun.



TNS:  So who did what?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  It was a lot of pranking.  Because there were a lot of bugs in the woods and whatnot, we’d take these long sticks and, from far away, kind of poke it in somebody’s ear and they’d always think there’s like a bug crawling inside their head.

And one time Vanessa and I, we got Luis so good.  It was probably like eight minutes long, and Luis was like, ‘What in the world is going on?  These stupid bugs.’ 

VANESSA HUDGENS:  It was horrible because every time he turned around we did not laugh.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  He turns around and goes, ‘I see you.’  It was so hard not to laugh.  He had no idea. 

VANESSA HUDGENS:  We were just such little kids.  We’d just run around and sing and dance and swing on vines and do anything.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  That was really fun.

TNS:  Did you ever get out of the jungle so you could go to a club or a restaurant or anything?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Clubs, I’m not really into.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Some restaurants, some good restaurants.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Great restaurants.  Morimoto's, we went to a lot.  It’s amazing.  And just being out on the ocean.  I loved paddle boarding. 

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah, that was the best.

TNS:  Did you meet before you started filming to have this relationship where you were sparring with each other?  Or did you meet for the first time at the table read? 

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Well, I’d met her a couple of times just at random events, but I never really talked to her.  So, the first time we really hung out was during the chemistry read back in L.A.  Vanessa came in, and we kind of read over some scenes just to feel it out and everything.  And it was great.  We hit it off from there on out.  And like we were saying earlier, we’re both just very fun, outgoing people and don’t really care what we look like when we’re having our fun.

VANESSA HUDGENS:  We’re big kids.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Yeah, exactly.

TNS:  In this movie, your character, Sean, feels like he wants to have adventure and he can’t.  Is there something, like maybe a role you didn’t get or something, that made you feel trapped?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I think everybody can feel that at some point about their lives, be it by your job or be it by your relationship, whatever you’re sort of in.  But I haven’t had too many of those.  I mean, there are definitely times where I get a little nervous, especially with The Hunger Games stuff coming out where it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, I made the movie and now it’s going to happen, there’s nothing I can do.  Holy wow, what do I do about this?’  But you’re just along for the ride, and I’m proud of it.  And as long as you stay true to yourself, that’s the most important thing, I think.

TNS:  I just wondered what Vanessa’s first job was?  If his was Miracle Dogs, what was the first thing that you ever did?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  It depends on what kind of job do you want to know?  I did a lot of theatre growing up.  It started with theatre that I had to pay to be in, and then it started becoming theatre that I was paid to be in. 

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  What was your first play, do you remember?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  My first play ever was Sleeping Beauty, and I was like some random princess maid.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  Did you tell me you played Hunchback in a movie once?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Not in a movie, in a play.  Yeah, I played the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  That’s awesome.  You actually played the Hunchback, not Esmeralda?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Nope.  I wanted Esmeralda.

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  That’s funny.  [Laughs]  They gave you Hunchback.

TNS:  Vanessa, you were great in Thirteen, and now you’re doing Frozen Ground, which is another grittier type of movie.  It’s nothing like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.  So, do you prefer to go in that direction?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  I love doing it all, honestly.  It’s just fun to completely transform yourself into a different person and look in the mirror and not know who you are.  I mean, it’s kind of scary, but so exhilarating and groundbreaking.  It’s so nice to be able to jump into the unknown and just tackle things.

TNS:  As young actors, do you ever get confused about who you are versus who the characters are that you’re doing?

JOSH HUTCHERSON:  I think that I definitely feel like that with all of the movies I’ve been in.  I sort of take a piece of all the characters, and that kind of makes up who I am as a person.  I definitely have a certain under-layer that’s been sturdy throughout.  But I think that of all my experiences.  I mean, it’s just like anybody’s life though.  Their experiences kind of make who you are.  It just so happens that my experiences are pretending I’m other people.

So, I think I kind of take a little bit of each character and it becomes a part of me, consciously or subconsciously.  But one way or another, that’s how I think it works for me.

TNS:  And Vanessa?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Yeah.  I think that that happens.  But, for me, that’s a bit more short-term.  After I play a role, a few things may stick with me, but over time that fades away and then I become myself again.  I think all the parts that I do play are definitely an extension of myself, so I pull from that.  But, at the end of the day, I go back to my happy, bubbly, giggly Vanessa.

TNS:  What about your music?  Are you giving your music up?  Or do you still want to sing?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Definitely not giving it up.  I mean, music’s such a big part of my life.  A bunch of people around me, like my closest friends, are musicians.  So, I’m constantly surrounded by it.  But for me right now, it’s just not something I’ve been doing.

TNS:  Unless it’s a movie musical maybe?

VANESSA HUDGENS:  Yeah.  I mean, I’m always down for it.  But, yeah, it’s just not happening recently.

TNS:  You’re not supposed to sing in this movie. 

VANESSA HUDGENS:  No, I’m letting Dwayne have his spotlight in this one.

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