You know Justice Smith. If not by name, you’ve likely seen him either in the Jurassic World follow-up Fallen Kingdom or in last year’s charming CGI movie Detective Pikachu. This week, he headed over to Netflix where he stars in All The Bright Places, a new teen movie that is not nearly as light-hearted or “fun” per se as some of his other fare. If you ask Justice Smith, All The Bright Places was a good follow-up to Detective Pikachu.
Speaking at an event tied to the release of Netflix’s All The Bright Places in Los Angeles, Justice Smith told CinemaBlend’s own Jeff McCobb that he really latched on to the young adult book-turned-movie, mostly because it was more “character-driven” than his previous projects.
Now, in some ways, Justice Smith’s Detective Pikachu character, Tim, does really have a deep backstory and some interesting facets. He’s an insurance adjuster, but he really has a penchant to be a Pokemon trainer. He’s also deeply invested in his past and his relationship with his father, Harry, who he was estranged with before Harry’s death at the start of the film.
Still much of Detective Pikachu revolves around solving mysteries and getting into a bunch of action, which doesn’t allow for a ton of character development. That’s not true of All The Bright Places, a movie that tackles teen issues involving mental health, depression and ultimately suicide.
Justice Smith elaborated that All The Bright Places offered him a chance to be a part of an “important conversation” that was meaningful to him. He said:
For me, I just thought it was really important conversation that I thought I wanted to contribute to. I just really believed in the story and the script and the character was something that I felt was in my wheelhouse but still challenged me. I also have done so many like ‘gonna get eaten by a dinosaur’ and ‘gonna go fight some Pokemon,’ so I was like, ‘I think I should do something more character-based.
Not that there’s any problem with hanging out with Mr. Mime and realizing he’s kind of a jerk. In fact, there have been rumors about a Detective Pikachu 2, a follow-up that would hopefully bring Smith back to the big screen. Although the actor has also said he hasn’t heard much about the project yet, there are worse places to be than at the heart of two major movie properties.
Luckily, they still give the actor a chance to take on passion projects like All The Bright Places, a movie project based on a popular book by Jennifer Niven that is set throughout her childhood state of Indiana. In fact, Elle Fanning also told CinemaBlend the movie was in a gestation period for a long time and that it took a while for the Netflix film to come together. If the timing hadn’t worked out when it did, who knows if Justice Smith and Elle Fanning would even have been the people starring in the movie if it had come at any other time.