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

"The Rusted" Premiere
"The Rusted" Premiere


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."

Originally published