Josh Hutcherson is 14-years-old and talks a million miles a minute. In the film "Bridge to Terabithia" (opening Friday) he plays the main character Jesse--a middle school introvert who befriends a funky new girl named Leslie played by AnnaSophia Robb (that chirpy blond from "Because of Winn-Dixie"). Together Leslie and Jesse imagine a kingdom called Terabithia in the woods by their homes and (surprise!) both their lives are changed forever. The film is based on a novel of the same name and while we won't tell you what happens, we will say that our friend Cynthia had to read the book in sixth grade for a unit on dying.
In this scene Jesse and Leslie are battling an imagined animal called the Squogre that looks like a giant evil squirrel. Hutcherson said this was the hardest scene of the film to shoot because aside from him and Robb the other actors were all computer-generated images. Hutcherson has worked with CGI before in the film "Zathura: A Space Adventure" directed by Jon Favreau, but that time there were real people in suits or puppets to act off of and respond to. In this scene all the young actors had to work with were little dots or tennis balls that were supposed to represent the creatures. Whenever one of the Squogre was supposed to emerge one of the 60 members of the crew would throw a tennis ball on the set, which would help Robb and Hutcherson figure out where to look.
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Hutcherson said it took about a week and a half to film just this one scene, and it was the longest they worked on any scene in the movie. There were at least three cameras that had to be set up each morning--one on a crane, one on a dolly and a hand held one. After the cameras were set up he and Robb were fetched from school to run through rehearsal. One of the stunt coordinators for "Lord of the Rings" helped choreograph the scene and the director Gabor Csupo (who created "The Rugrats") helped him and Robb figure out how scared to be in each shot. "It was hard," says Hutcherson. "There were so many camera angles and different cues." To make things a little easier Csupo broke the scene down into fifteen sections and shot each one of those several times until the actors were looking at the right place and had the right amount of fear.
Hutcherson says when he finally saw the movie he was pleased with the way the scene came out. "I was pretty happy with it," he said. "It's pretty believable."