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Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Actor Josh Hutcherson was at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Wednesday as part of a personal-appearance tour.

Josh Hutcherson is one of the most in-demand teen actors, having appeared in such hits as "Bridge to Terabithia" and "Zathura." But in the future, he just might have a promising career as a comic performer.

After all, the 15-year-old actor is very personable. And he does a killer impression of Jeff Goldblum, among other well-known celebrities.

"Uh, that's a very excellent point you have there," Hutcherson deadpanned, sounding eerily like the famously neurotic and quirky Goldblum.

And Hutcherson has had some very good role models in that regard. Recent movies have paired him with actors Brendan Fraser and John C. Reilly, who each have considerable dramatic and comic acting experience.

"Seeing how they're both able to go back and forth that way is an inspiration to me," he said.

Hutcherson was just as excited to talk about the new science-fiction adventure film "Journey to the Center of the Earth." He was in Salt

Lake City this week as part of a personal-appearance tour to promote the movie.

"Making 'Journey' was a lot of fun. I know, I know, that sounds like a cliche. But I swear it's true," Hutcherson said.

He plays the nephew of Fraser's character, a geologist who's exploring a perilous cavern deep below the Earth's surface. Hutcherson also said he picked up a few pointers about stunt acting from the veteran Fraser.

"Brendan's been doing this so long he knows just how physically demanding these kinds of movies can be. And here's a little secret: He wears a little bit of padding under his clothes," he said, chuckling.

"Me, I just thought I could do all these crazy stunts and feel fine, even if I wasn't padded," Hutcherson continued. "But I was always the one who was sore and complaining the next day. I was glad that he didn't say, 'I told you so."'

Of course, Hutcherson said that making the movie wasn't a totally miserable experience. He got to do a lot of his own stunts, including "running, jumping and staying active. And for a few days I got to rock climb in Iceland."

However, the effects-heavy film was shot mostly in soundstages in Montreal. "For weeks we're in a giant warehouse," Hutcherson recalled, "we'd be running on a treadmill device with a big screen behind us and a tennis ball that was dangling from it."

That tennis ball was placed there to simulate the positioning of dinosaurs and other large threats. Those computer-graphics creatures were added in post-production.

"Acting like you're terrified of a tennis ball seems kind of crazy. But (director Eric Brevig) showed us what the T-rex was supposed to look like. So, at least we could try to fake it."

In his six-year career, Hutcherson has already appeared in two dozen film and television projects and has several others lined up. But he's also planning to go to college once he completes his high school studies.

"My family has always stressed the importance of education and being well-balanced in life and learning," he said. "And there are things I can get from college that I can't from acting, even if I plan to be a filmmaker."

In addition to doing media interviews, Hutcherson also attended a screening of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" at the Jordan Commons Megaplex, and answered audience questions afterward.

And he was hoping to get some time to see a friend, Utah actor K.C. Clyde ("The Best Two Years"). "K.C. is so talented and such a great guy. It's crazy that he hasn't had a bigger career, because he deserves it."


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com