Now that Josh Hutcherson officially has four "Hunger Games" movies locked and loaded, you'd think he might want to take a break. Instead, he's doing exactly the opposite -- when MTV News caught up with the actor over the phone on Thursday (July 28), he had just finished an intense three-day shoot for his new short film "The Rusted," a project he oversaw from start-to-finish with Ron Howard for Canon's Project Imagination... and it sounds like it went pretty well, given Hutcherson's enthusiasm for following in the director's footsteps.
"[Doing 'The Rusted'] definitely pushed it further for me," Hutcherson said. "I’ve always wanted to direct and produce, it’s something I’ve wanted to get into, and this is the first project that I’ve taken from the very beginning, the inception of the idea, all the way through to the final product. And it’s been really cool. Definitely seeing Ron -- who also started out as an actor -- make the transition to becoming one of the most well-respected directors, definitely aspires me to go for that even more."
Hutcherson and Howard selected "The Rusted" after viewing thousands of submitted trailers, in which directors briefly sold the duo on stories based on their own lives. Hutcherson picked the winner, originally called "Tainted Water," because "the vibe of the trailer" gripped him instantly -- so now college student Mark Mukherje, who created it, will see Hutcherson act out a version of his own darkest moment.
"The Rusted" will find Hutcherson and his "Hunger Games" co-star Jena Malone playing siblings who renovate their childhood home into a recording studio... but sure enough, dark secrets soon come to the surface, and Hutcherson's character begins to unravel.
"The unclearness of reality and what’s in your mind is fascinating," Hutcherson revealed. "In this short we get to explore that, and push the bounds of what’s real and what’s not real and what’s really going on, versus what’s just in the character’s mind. The psychological element was something I always really wanted to get involved with, and this one allowed me to do that.
"These characters have their own past traumas that are haunting them still," he continued. "The idea that something that happens in your life that is traumatic can stay with you your whole life to the point where you hallucinate things that aren’t really there -- that’s kind of scary, and I hope that doesn’t happen to me."
In addition to the intensity of doing such a quick shoot and selecting the project with Howard, Hutcherson said he was excited by the opportunity to have "Hunger Games" fans see a completely different side of him... a Dark Josh Hutcherson, if you will.
"I think it’s cool because Jena and I are in it together... taking 'The Hunger Games’ and applying it to a very different world," he said. "Kat Candler's style, our director, is very real -- it’s very grounded, [whereas] ‘Hunger Games’ is a very big, futuristic hypothetical situation. So for me, it’s something that’s much more grounded and real, and it’s a character I’ve never gotten to play before. My character is this rock, metal-head kind of kid, and for me, it’s something that’s different. I hope people enjoy it, cause it’s me taking on something very different. Very dark."
Though of course, with "Mockingjay - Part 2" wrapped up and the "Hunger Games" press tour ready to rev up one last time this fall, Hutcherson (and Malone) have just a little bit more time to spend together saying goodbye to that futuristic world. Which Hutcherson is totally cool with, since he's actually being given some damn time off this time around.
"I think on this press tour we actually get a couple of days here and there to enjoy the cities we’re going to go see," he explained. "For me, the last press tour was so crazy and the one before that -- we didn’t get to enjoy the cities that much. This time there’s a little bit more breathing room... normally you just wake up in a hotel, do press all day, and fly out; you don’t get to see anything. [This time] I know we’re going to be in Berlin again, which is where we wrapped the film, and so it will be nice to go back there. We have a day or so to get to relive some fun moments there. It’s going to be excellent."