How Josh Hutcherson Transformed Into Peeta Mellark for The Hunger Games

 Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

When Josh Hutcherson was cast as the kindhearted Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games (in theaters March 23), there was a caveat: he had to totally alter his appearance.

"I dyed my hair blonde," the brunette 19-year-old said during a press junket for the film in Beverly Hills March 4. "I had to put on a lot of weight, so I was in the process of eating chicken, eggs and protein and all that fun stuff."

Hutcherson also exercised with "epic trainer" Logan Hood. "He was this ex-Navy Seal guy who just kicks ass."

Hood, who also worked with Liam Hemsworth, 22, had Hutcherson "flipping tires the parking lot and slamming baseball bats against body bags — crazy things! It was so unconventional, and you're working muscles you didn't even know you had. You're like, 'How am I possibly this sore?'"

Josh Hutcherson
Lionsgate

Hutcherson added: "I felt like with Logan, I was sore for four days afterwards, and we worked out five days a week, so I was in a constant state of soreness!"

Hemsworth vouched for his costar, saying: "I worked out with him for an hour and literally I would have to lay down for 20 minutes because I couldn't drive away. It would be dangerous to drive away straight afterwards! I was going to pass out."

For much more on the movie, including 125 gorgeous photos and exclusive interviews, pick up Us Weekly's Hunger Games special — available on newsstands now. Order it today!

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!