You won't believe the secret to working with Josh Hutcherson

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"The Rusted" Premiere

BY DONNA FREYDKIN

Ron Howard's epic "In the Heart of the Sea" opens Dec. 11. It's a massive production, starring Chris Hemsworth and featuring a whale. So the Oscar-winning director relishes wearing his other (baseball) hat, as the mentor behind Canon's Project Imagination. This time, the result was the short film "The Rusted," starring Josh Hutcherson and Jena Malone; it premiered at AOL on Thursday.

Hutcherson signed on first.

"I thought it was a cool way to generate content. I texted Jena," he says, turning to Malone. "I was in New York when you said yes. I was walking the street and said, 'Jena's in! She said yes.'"

He and Malone, of course, know each other from their blockbuster "Hunger Games" franchise.

"I was on a train and I read it on my phone," says Malone. "I was excited to be working with Josh again, obviously. It's a really interesting story."

And the two must have figured, Howard needed a job so they should throw him the proverbial bone. Right? Right.

"He's got a family to feed," says Hutchinson, as Malone and Howard laugh.

In truth, Howard is passionate about the endeavor.

"This is very experimental. I'm not directing. I've always liked the spirit of it. It inspires people to explore their creativity in a way that's fun and high profile. There are real resources behind it," says Howard. "I like the message that it sends: I bet you're a little more creative than you think you are, so just try."

What does he get out of it?

"The residual benefit for me has been the fun of it," says Howard. "It's not trying to make it commercial. It's actually about exploring the medium."

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You won't believe the secret to working with Josh Hutcherson
FILE - In this file image released by Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen, left, and Liam Hemsworth portrays Gale Hawthorne in a scene from "The Hunger Games." "The Hunger Games" on Monday, April 30, 2012 was nominated for eight MTV Movie awards, including bids for best cast, breakthrough performance, and movie of the year. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close, File)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, from foreground to background, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." A fictional gesture from a Hollywood movie is being used as a real symbol of resistance in Thailand. Protesters against a military coup are flashing the three-finger salute from “The Hunger Games” as a silent act of rebellion, and they’re being threatened with arrest if they ignore warnings to stop. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, left, and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, from left, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." The movie opens in theaters Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, in what's expected to be one of the year's biggest box-office debuts. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, left, and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." The film releases Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)
This image released by Lionsgate shows Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, left, and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." The film releases Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Murray Close)
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