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‘Bridge’ to stardom for child actors

January 24th, 2008 by Paul Martin

Only actors who have worked to establish their characters fully can move a fantasy-adventure audience to tears. The fact that Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb manage to do just that in Bridge to Terabithia is a tribute to the young actors’ skills.

“It was challenging to figure out who Leslie was and just to open myself up,” Robb told The Daily Yomiuri. “Because Leslie is such a free person for thinking just in every aspect, and so that was kind of a hard nut to crack, but once it was open, she kind of took over.”

Hutcherson plays Leslie’s friend, Jess, who is always picked on at school. In dealing with bullying, he applied his own past experience to the role.

“When I first started acting, in about fourth grade, I was bullied about my acting, and people would always make fun of me and say, ‘You’re all that now ’cause you’re an actor,’ and all this mean stuff. I didn’t know why they did it, and it just upset me. I think I can take my past experience with getting bullied and funnel that into Jess,” he said.

Jess is the only son of a poor farmer in the American countryside and is always being pushed around by his sisters. One day, an outgoing city girl–Leslie–transfers to his school, quickly becoming good friends with him. Together, they play in a nearby forest they have named Terabithia, an imaginary land where they fight monsters of their own dreaming. Then one day, tragedy strikes.

Unlike typical white-knuckle fantasy dramas, Terabithia, based on Katherine Paterson’s 1977 children’s book, emphasizes the teenagers’ friendship and hints at ways to deal with the grief and anxiety one may experience in childhood.

[yomiuri.co.jp for the rest of the story.]