Josh Hutcherson knows his Hunger Games, and he’s talked about how he clicked with the role of Peeta soon after he read the books. The Peeta he portrays is still smart, still tender, and also comes off as a lot stronger. He added that though he knew Peeta was a beta wolf and Katniss was the alpha, he wanted to make sure the audience saw Peeta’s strong, confident side.
Hutcherson is bulking up in preparation for Catching Fire, for the sake of demonstrating Peeta is now well off and well fed in the Districts. If that’s so he may work on some slimming up for Mockingjay, after he gets out of the Captiol prisons. His physique won’t be the only thing to change—Peeta’s personality is sure to take a sharp turn in Mockingjay.
In Mockingjay Peeta is quite literally off screen. He’s not around for the first part of the book, and in the second part he’s often behind locked doors as he attempts recovery from hijacking. However, he’s sure to show up in plenty of Katniss’s flashbacks and on the Capitol broadcast that’s eventally overridden with District Thirteen propos.
So how will Hutcherson portray the more tormented, hateful Peeta? The crew has expressed complete confidence in Hutcherson’s ability to pull it off. His role as Jess in Bridge to Terabithia has given a glimpse of Hutcherson’s darker side, the boy going through some great changes in his life. Even in Hutcherson’s warmest roles, he’s shown an ability to give depth and a bit of real darkness to his characters. Whether he can—or tries—to play Peeta to its fullest extent is still in the works. Hutcherson hopes to play Peeta as he always has been: one step at a time.