TV and Media Blog

Holiday TV: Josh Hutcherson rides The Polar Express

Click the image to view more photos of Josh Hutcherson through the years.

The first time I met Josh Hutcherson, he was 10 years old in 2003 and just filmed his first major TV network movie, “Wilder Days” with Peter Falk for TNT.  But he was more excited about a computer-animated film he had been making with director Robert Zemeckis, “The Polar Express,” which wouldn’t be released for another year.

Josh, 12, plays The Polar Express video game in 2005.

 Watch “The Polar Express” tonight (9 p.m., ABC Family), and you’ll see that the young Hero Boy looks a little like Josh. And here’s why, as I wrote in October 2003:

Josh says he had even more fun filming “Polar Express,” based on Chris Van Allsburg’s popular children’s book. He was rigged in harnesses to fly through the air as “young Hero Boy.” (Hanks plays adult Hero Boy.)

“I supposedly fall off a train, and grab onto the back of it, and slingshot myself back up onto some guy’s shoulders, and then we fell off again,” Josh says.

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When the film finally arrives in theaters at Thanksgiving next year, Josh won’t be seen as “Hero Boy.” That character will have been created by computer animators, based on Josh’s “facial expressions and body movements” captured by digital cameras, his mother Michelle explains. “Leave it to Zemeckis. He’s out there. He always does the newest stuff.”

  “The Polar Express” repeats at 6 p.m. Thursday. You can find more airings and all other Christmas shows in our searchable Holiday TV database here.

Today’s Holiday TV highlights:

7 p.m. (FAM) “Home Alone” Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) outwits Christmas thieves. (1990, with Joe Pesci).

7:30 p.m. (TOON) “Smurfs: A Christmas Carol” Grouchy Smurf as Scrooge. Animated.

8 p.m. (HALL) “Naughty or Nice” Krissy Kringle (Hilarie Burton) uses Santa’s book to expose bad behavior. (2012)

9 p.m. (FAM) “The Polar Express” A train conductor takes a boy to the North Pole. (2004 with Tom Hanks)

9:30 p.m. (TVL) “Everybody Loves Raymond” Barone family photo.

10 p.m. (HALL) “Hitched for the Holidays” Joey Lawrence and Emily Hampshire pose as a couple to fool their respective families in a new Hallmark movie for this Christmas season.

Josh and his mother Michelle during my 2003 interview in their home.

Posted in: Local Events, Local Media, Television

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John Kiesewetter

About Me

I've been writing about TV/media/radio for more than 20 years. I consider it the best beat in town, even better than covering the Reds. I grew up in Middletown, where I watched Cincinnati and Dayton TV. I don't have a formal education in broadcasting, like most TV viewers. After earning a journalism degree from Ohio University in 1975, I started at the Cincinnati Enquirer as a summer intern. I covered county government and the suburbs (including the arrival of cable TV), and later was the suburban editor and features section editor. In 1985, I returned to writing as TV critic. For many years, I attended TV press tours in Los Angeles to preview new fall shows and to visit TV studios. Some of my favorite stories are from going to the sets of "Seinfeld" "Raymond," "The West Wing," "Cheers," and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and interviewing George Clooney, David Letterman and Jay Leno.


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