Before Josh Hutcherson Played Peeta Mellark, He Played The Boy In The Polar Express

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 ‘Tis the season to find out fun facts about our favorite actors. That's why it's so appropriate that we found out today that Catching Fire star Josh Hutcherson starred as “Hero Boy” in the 2003 animated movie The Polar Express. He provided the voice as well as the general hero-boy good looks.

John Kiesewetter, a writer for Cincinnati.com, interviewed him way back in 2003 about an upcoming TV movie for TNT and reminisced about the experience today. Because hey, that adorable little 10-year-old grew up to be one of the biggest movie stars of 2012.  If that's not something to brag about, then I need to stop interviewing child actors in hope they'll grow into  A-list stars.

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.

I know, I know. You watch that movie every time it plays during ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas and you never realized this. Don't blame yourself. He looks nothing like he does in The Hunger Games. There's no real reason to assume “Hero Boy” would grow up to murder other teenagers as part of a game. How could any of us ever know that?

But look now. Doesn't he look slightly familiar? Can't you see his future baker hands? His determination? The knowledge that this won't be the last train ride he'll ever take?

Sure Tom Hanks is a little less attractive than Effie Trinket, but they're both great chaperones for children about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

And yes, I know, one adventure involves the magic of Christmas while the other involves the mauling of teenagers. But they're both quality movies meant to remind us about love and family and train travel.

(GIF: Walking Dead 3000)