Josh Hutcherson Talks 'Socially-Distanced' Reunion with Jennifer Lawrence & 'Hunger Games' Prequel (Exclusive)
By Leena Tailor
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It’s been more than eight years since the loved cast of The Hunger Games started bringing the books to life on the big screen, and the lead trio of Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth are still adorably close off-screen. ET’s Katie Krause caught up with Hutcherson as he reflected on his time on the franchise, discussed the films' new home on streaming platform, Tubi, and shared his thoughts on Lionsgate’s upcoming Hunger Games prequel.
“I saw Jen during quarantine -- got to have dinner together,” he said about how much he keeps in touch with the cast. “It was like mid-summer maybe [and] we had a nice socially-distanced dinner together. [It] was good to catch up with her because she's been off living her life in other places all over the world.”
“And, I saw Liam towards the end of last year, but this year he's been off in Australia,” Hutcherson, 27, continued. “We catch up every time we can. I got to see Woody [Harrelson] not too long ago, so it's good. No matter how much time passes, once we see each other again, it's instantly right back to where it was.”
Speaking of how it used to be, Hutcherson reflected on his early days on the blockbuster project, recalling his first taste of the cult following which the Suzanne Collins books had.
“Before we even stepped foot on set, they held a fan event in L.A. [with] me, Jen and Liam,” he recalled. “It was the first time they were introducing all the cast to the fans and we were sitting up in this room and there was a window -- you could look out and see the fan area and there were so many people.”
“They didn't even know if the movies were going to be good [and] they didn't know if they were going to like us or not, but they loved the books so much that they wanted to be a part of the movie process,” he continued. “That was the first moment of, ‘What is this? What world are we stepping into?’ The whole thing feels so surreal and crazy.”
As they embarked on the Hunger Games journey together, Hutcherson, Hemsworth and Lawrence bonded by going on random adventures and exploring Walmart -- something Hutcherson discussed in the first press junket for the franchise.
ET dug up the footage and showed the actor a clip. “That's so funny,” he responded. “It takes me right back. I remember that trip to Walmart perfectly. It was in Asheville, North Carolina, and Liam was like, ‘What's a Walmart?’ and we were like, ‘Oh, we're gonna show you.’ He had never experienced it. He may have been playing dumb Australian.”
The trio would go on to make three sequels and all four movies in the franchise are now streaming on Tubi. Although Hutcherson doesn’t usually enjoy watching himself on-screen -- having only seen each movie once at its premiere -- he’s open to watching the films now.
“I don't want to see myself on the screen -- it’s hard, but I think enough time has passed,” he said. “I've grown as a person enough to be able to watch them and forgive myself for anything I don't like, and maybe, just maybe, just enjoy the film. I’m really happy they're streaming on Tubi and it's free. Tubi has a ton of stuff and it's free, so that's very cool."
Apart from streaming movies, Hutcherson has been laying low like everyone else during the pandemic. Although quarantine has been mentally draining at times, he remains grateful for what he has.
“It’s a roller coaster,” he admitted. “There are days where it's hard not to become depressed and down, but then you realize the fortunate position you're in, to be healthy and to have food on the table. There's a lot of people going through really hard times right now, so it's important to keep perspective on that.”
One thing he’s grateful to have? His gorgeous girlfriend of seven years, Claudia Traisac!
Hutcherson says the two met doing a film together and she was introduced to the “crazy world” of the Hunger Games movies shortly after, visiting him on sets and press tours.
“[Quarantine’s] been really good,” he said about how the pandemic has impacted their relationship. “I think it's make-or-break for many people. It's a lot of time to spend with someone, but we found a really good balance supporting one another and giving space when it's needed and being close when it's needed.”
“It's all about communication and I think in this time we've figured out a lot of things with that, so it's been great,” Hutcherson continued. “Quarantine has been difficult in many ways, but on that front, [I’m] very happy.”
Speaking of what else would make him happy, Hutcherson is eager to get back to work and filled us in on his dream role.
“My entire life I'd been fascinated with World War II and for me playing a soldier-type character in an intimate, personal World War II story would be incredible,” he shared. “I've read so much and have watched so many documentaries and the whole time is so fascinating. I'd love to jump into that.”
As for whether he would consider getting involved in the upcoming Hunger Games prequel, Hutcherson says he’s “100%” down if the opportunity arises.
“I don't know anything about it story-wise, but if it has to do with how we got to the world of the Hunger Games, then I think that's going to be super-interesting,” he said. “I would like Peeta to be in it because I would like to be with these people again and work more in that world."
“100%, that would be great,” he continued. “I love that whole cast and crew. If they can get some of the same people involved, [I would do it] no question.”
See more on the movies below.
Tubi is now the exclusive* home to 'The Hunger Games' franchise.
*Exclusive among ad-supported video services; the only place fans can watch for free