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ANNASOPHIA ROBB AND JOSH HUTCHERSON
TERABITHIA INTERVIEW

Josh tells me that he's going to be flying to Southern California to visit the Tiger Beat headquarters where he'll be serving as Guest Editor. I joke with him if he's going to have responsibilities like picking the cutest Justin Timberlake photos and he laughs, saying it's just an honorary title and photo opportunity.  I remind him he's joined the likes of The Beatles and The Monkees, and wonder if he's even old enough to know who they are, but reading another interview after this, I learn he has The Beatles on his iPod, so he's OK in my book.

ZACH: Please excuse my tape recorder from 1985.

ANASOPHIA: Isn't there a song about that? (munches on a great looking oatmeal cookie)

retroCRUSH: Well, who has their mouth full, I'll start with the other person?

ANNASOPHIA: I'll put the cookie away.

retroCRUSH: That's OK. Josh, what do you share most in common with Jess?

JOSH: I think a lot of things about me and Jess are quite different, actually, and that's one of the reasons that I took on the character because I go to play someone who's totally different than me. But we're both artists...but I'm really bad at drawing and painting-

ANNASOPHIA: He's not bad.

JOSH: I'm really bad. But I'm an actor, so we're both kind of artists in that sense, but we're kind of different because he is kind of an outcast in his school and he's neglected in his family because he has 4 sisters, which if I had 4 sisters I'd definitely be neglected, too. But I did feel bullied some when I first started acting and I kind of just had to get over it.

ANNASOPHIA: Well I'm like Jess in that, no I'm just kidding.

retroCRUSH: So how about you, what do you have most in common with your character (Leslie)?

ANNASOPHIA: I wish I was more like Leslie. Because she's just such a great person. She's so inspirational and just creative and wonderful. I love using my imagination and I love to read, and I love her clothes (laughs). I do spend a ton of time with my parents. That's one thing, Leslie doesn't have a lot of time with them so when she is with them, she appreciates every moment. She basically lives life to the fullest extent and tries to have a good time with everyone.

ZACH: I had a question about your family life. You have brothers and sisters, and do you see them a lot?

JOSH: I have one little brother and he's 10, his name is Conner, and he wants to be a rocket scientist. He's pretty much a genius at his school. He and my dad usually don't travel with me when I'm doing a film. It's usually my mom that goes with me, so my dad and my brother try to come out every few weeks. We try not to go more than 2-3 weeks without seeing our family because it's really important to have strong family ties, which we do. Our family is very close, always has been and always will be...but it does get hard sometimes, like when we're filming in New Zealand.

ZACH: Yeah...it's not an easy trip to make.

ANNASOPHIA: I don't have any brothers and sisters, I have a dog, named Bellaroo...but I have 6 girl cousins and I'm right in the middle of them...they're all my best friends and I love hanging out with them. They're really fun and I've known them since I was a little girl. They all live up in Boulder pretty much and I live in Denver so I have to commute a ways to see them, but I do miss them and I miss my friends. I go to a private school and my school has been really helpful and really good about letting me go back and forth, pop in and pop out. So that's the really hard part about acting, just leaving your friends, and leaving your family, because they're a big part of my life.

ZACH: Absolutely, thank you.

retroCRUSH: Was it hard to get in shape for all the running scenes in this movie?

ANNASOPHIA: We're KIDS! What are you talking about (laughs).

JOSH: I've always been very athletic. I've been playing sports ever since I've been old enough to run, and I enjoy just going to the gym and running on the treadmill. You feel so good after you work out and sometimes it's hard to get off the couch and go do it. But at the same time I love doing it and I think that...I just had a great time running on the set, because I love running in real life, too.

ANNASOPHIA: I don't like to work out, and I hate going to the gym. I do, though, because I have to get exercise. Usually when I'm on the road, I never...I just...there's always something else to do. And I really like to swim, though. And I like to do an activity with my friends or I love to dance, or I like to run, but I don't like running on a treadmill, I get super bored. I'll do it for like 10 minutes and like OK...

ZACH: You like to go somewhere.

ANNASOPHIA: I want to GO SOMEWHERE! I don't want to be looking at a TV screen and watching someone run. I want to be running. So I like running in the Spring and the Fall. But not in the Winter, it's too cold, and not in the Summer, it's too hot. So I'll swim then.

(Pam from the San Francisco Chronicle walks in)

JOSH: Hey...I'm Josh.

PAM: I'm Pam.

ANNASOPHIA: Hi, Pam! So it was a really good thing about this movie. I had to stretch before because I have a weak Achilles tendon. I do gymnastics and Irish dance, so that kind of started the whole thing. It was a good thing about this movie because I didn't have to worry about working out or exercising because there was always something active on set, and we'd play wiffleball at lunch. And we had a really good time and we were right on the beach so you could go swimming in the ocean or jogging on the beach. It was awesome. I mean, I love San Francisco, you can get a workout just walking to work, right?

retroCRUSH: Yeah, coming up this hill...man!

ZACH: I regretted doing the BART thing today.

ANNASOPHIA: That's what I love about New York, you can walk everywhere.

ZACH: This book and the film is a lot about imagination. Reading the book and then seeing those amazing things on the screen. I was wondering, as actors, you guys have been working really successfully the last couple of years, congratulations on that-

ANNASOPHIA: Thank you!

ZACH: And I really enjoy your work, and I was wondering, is there...when you're acting so much and you're doing so much on film, does your imagination kind of go those places, of like seeing movies in your mind. Like do you feel like being an actor now has changed your way of...like when you go out into the forest, or going into the woods of Denver-

JOSH: I've always had a really really broad imagination. Even when I was little I was always making up games and playing with my imaginary friends...I have to use my imagination every day on the set because you have to imagine you're in the character, and that you are the character. But it has changed the way any time I watch a movie even, or when I'm going places, I'm always like "that'd make a perfect scene in a movie", or when you're in a forest you're like, "that'd be a cool shot if the camera came around a tree like that." I'm always kind of thinking in the movie world. But then again I get to go home and hang out with my friends, and get my head out of the movie world. Play on a soccer team, and stuff like that. And I live in Kentucky, still, so that's really great for me.

ANNASOPHIA: Sometimes the acting world is really...I think if I wasn't acting, I hate to say it, but I think for Bridge to Terabithia, a lot of kids try to get rid of their imagination. I still would have used it because I love to read books and stuff. But it really taught me that imagination is so important. And you should never let go of it and you're never ever too old to use it. Cause I know a lot of kids are embarrassed to use it, they're like, "I'm too old for that." That doesn't mean that you still have to play pretend and Barbies or anything like that. It's just means that you should use it and keep it intact, and imagine your whole own world. But I do...sometimes when I travel places I go, "Wow! This would be a really cool place to shoot a movie." Sometimes it ruins things for me, I mean when I watch movies, I'll be watching them with my friends and I'll start commenting on things. "That would never happen!" "Oh, that storyline is so bad!" Or I'll be commenting on someone's acting or there hair person, or "Did you see that boom shadow?" ...and they'll get on me they'll be like, "AnnaSophia you're ruining the movie. Stop it!" (laughs) "BE QUIET!"

JOSH: (laughs) I do the same exact thing. I have to rewind it I'll be like, "I swear there's a continuity issue...watch!"

ANNASOPHIA: So I'm not allowed to say things to my friends during movies. But it taught me to...applaud those who make a really good film.

PAM: Did any of you talk to David (the film's screenwriter and son of author Katherine Paterson, whom the story is based on) about his real friend and what that was like when he was?

ANNASOPHIA: I didn't really get a chance to before, because he wasn't in New Zealand the whole time, he only came down once for a couple of days. Is that right?

JOSH: Once or twice.

ANNASOPHIA: I think he came down twice for about 3 days. So I've been asking about him and I can tell that it's a hard thing, still, to talk about. Especially when there's a movie based on your experience with a friend. So that was a hard thing for me. I didn't talk to Katherine, I talked to the producers about how I felt Leslie would act and react to things and her response to the world, basically, but I was a little bit nervous because I didn't know how Katherine would respond. I didn't know if I seemed to be the Leslie she was looking for. If she would see the movie and just sigh, "That's totally different from what I meant...she did a terrible job of pulling that off!" But she liked it, so I'm like, "YES!" She was the final judge for me, and of the people who really loved the book. I talked to, as soon as I saw the movie I found a woman and asked her "Are you a book fan?" (laughs) you could just tell. And she really liked it, so I was like "Whew! Good!" Katherine liked it and a book lover liked it, so I'm good to go.

retroCRUSH: What was it like seeing the film for the first time and actually seeing the special effects around your characters when you're pretty much just rolling around with nothing there for so long?

JOSH: It was a really different experience because you're there on set and you're imagining all this stuff that's going on and you have no idea what it's going to be like after they edit it in. And then when you see the movie, you're like, "Oh that's what I was afraid of...OK! That makes sense. I wish I would have known that while I was filming it." There were times, like when I first saw the skrogers, the squirrel like crazy creature things, they were a lot bigger than what I was expecting and Gabor was like (imitating his voice) "Uhhh...we need a bigguh reaction from you!" And I would try but I was just picturing a little squirrel thing and then I see the movie and it's like the size of me, so now I understand why I needed to be more scared. So just seeing it all together and all the hard work we put into it, and how the reactions all worked out was really satisfying.

ANNASOPHIA: We saw some drawings in Gabor Csupo's office of a lot of the characters, so I really tried to study those paintings and drawings and visualize when I was acting what they would be like but I didn't know how big they would be. Like the Terabithian Army, I didn't know if it was going to be the size of this room, or if it was going to fill up the whole forest, or if it was going to be a little army, or it was going to be this big or that big (motions with fingers getting bigger). I really had no idea. I traveled to WETA Studios, which is the people who did all the special effects, and they did Lord of the Rings and Narnia. And they started to work on our film, and I was so happy, I was like "Wow! This is really going to turn out to be great!" It was beautiful. All the little warriors, they showed a little close up of them and just how intricate they are. You know, they're just not wearing normal everyday warrior clothes, I guess (laughs). They're all different.

ZACH: I was wondering, this film has a lot of heavy issues. The death of someone young, your own age. Did you have...I know you didn't have much time while you were making the film to reflect on it, but reflecting on it, what do you think about a topic like this being raised in a film.

JOSH: I think it's great because so many times in family and children's movies, everything is sugar coated. They never show the real side of life, and this movie has so much realistic things in it. Like so many things about life lessons and things that actually happen. Kids really do get bullied. Jess has a lot of imperfections and he has a lot of character flaws, and stuff like that, and that's natural. That's how it is in real life. The fact that things like what happens in the movie happen in real life make it great for kids to be exposed to at young ages, so that when it does come up, when that stuff does happen to them, they're not shocked. They've seen it in movies before.

ANNASOPHIA: I agree with Josh, I think it's important for kids. It doesn't mean that they have to grow up, it doesn't mean they have to see really intense movies at a really super young age, because that's just...they don't need to be exposed to that kind of stuff. But bad stuff does happen because it's the real world. They don't have to grow up, they just need to be worldly and know what's going on around them, because we're the next generation and if we don't know what's going on in the world, we can't make a better future for everyone.

(at this point the publicity contact says there's just time for one more question)

PAM: Can you talk about the dynamic that you formed with the little girl who played your sister? You're so adorable together.

JOSH: Bailee Madison was her name, and she played May Belle, my little sister. And she was just a little firecracker of energy. This is a little 7 year old girl and every time you hear her voice, every time you see her, your face just lights up and you have to laugh because she's just so cute. And she was such a great actress for such a young age to understand her character and to have these heavy dialogue scenes where she's just talking quite a bit...She's totally on her own and has her own feelings about the character, she's amazing.

ANNASOPHIA: It was great to see that she wasn't too adult, you know? She was still a little girl and really real and I loved watching her because she really reminded me of Leslie. She's just so free and...I was watching her dance around in the hotel room one day, she was dancing around and she tripped over herself and falls down, and gets right back up and dances again. She wasn't ashamed or embarrassed, she was just dancing. And she was like, "Come on, AnnaSophia, join me!" And I was having so much fun just watching her...she's really good in the movie. Very cute.

At this point the interview was over and the polite "Thank Yous" were exchanged. AnnaSophia and Josh took a picture with my very shy 10 year old daughter who told them she was 9 when they asked, even though her birthday was 4 months ago. And here it is!

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

 

 

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