From starring in Baz Luhrmann 70’s hip-hop hit The Get Down, to running from dinosaurs with Chris Pratt in Jurassic Park, to running around Ryme City with a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu, 23-year-old Justice Smith is on the brink of worldwide stardom. Smith steals the screen as the lead in the anticipated Pokémon Detective Pikachu film, in theatres May 10th. Rising to fame in 2017, he was ranked in Forbes 30 under 30 List, and now has multiple universally-acclaimed films under his belt with an upcoming Netflix film destined to impress us later this year All the Bright Places.
ROGUE is hyped to announce Justice as our first Summer cover star. Justice Smith graces the digital cover of our upcoming Summer Issue N°11, available for pre-order June 1st and on stands June 15th.
But before Pokémon releases worldwide tomorrow, we are releasing a highlights preview of his cover story, where we caught up with Smith to talk about what life is like after starring in an international phenomenon. From family to fame and fortune, the young actor gives us a peek inside what it’s like being a young celebrity in 2019, and below you can get peek at his feature.
ON THE DISADVANTAGES OF FAME & MEDIA:
”The gradual loss of anonymity. The way people change around you, specifically family and friends. The way everyone's focus on you pushes you further into your own isolated bubble rather than opening you up to others. There is a whole industry that capitalizes on the celebrity of others. It is the way lots of people feed their families, by selling the 'dream', the life of luxury, the myth of idols and 'stars'. I used to be indignant about having to 'promote' myself or allow others to see me as anything other than a person who happens to act. But I also see how it's become directly weaved with my ability to get jobs. And those people are trying to take care of their loved ones just as much as I am. So I've been trying to assimilate as much as I can while still holding on to some integrity. It's been an interesting game.”
ON THE CHALLENGES OF ACTING WITH CGI CO-STARS:
”The most challenging was working with characters that weren't actually there, but the more you do it the more you get used to it. And when I use 'challenging' loosely, because it's just as 'challenging' as playing with your imaginary friend on the playground as a kid. The most rewarding would be the fact that I was able to mix my childhood with my job. I think that's what we all strive for. To do the thing that we always wanted to do when we were younger.
It is difficult to work with a scene partner who's not actually there, but I had some practice working with CGI characters on Jurassic World. You also learn in acting school, via monologue work, how to fully visualize what your scene partner is doing at all times and how they are responding off of you. At the center of the film is a heart-warming story about a young man trying to reconcile with his father, so I focused on Tim's desperation to mend the mistakes he's made and used it to propel him throughout the story. The more dramatic scenes were just a byproduct of that intention. “
ON HIS FAVORITE POKEMON CHARACTER:
”My favorite Pokémon is Totodile from Generation II. It is one of the starter Pokémon in Pokémon Gold which is the first game I got for GameBoy Color. And it's my favorite color.”
ON WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR HIM AS AN ACTOR:
”What's at stake is how much you have to give yourself to the world as an actor. And how much people want to subconsciously take from you, not realizing the extent of the toll. You have to learn how to be a bottomless well of vulnerability, of charisma, and of stern professionalism, all at the same time. What keeps me grounded is when I wake up with morning breath. No matter how much relative success I have, I'll always wake up with morning breath.“
ON WHAT EXCITES HIM MOST ABOUT THE FILM:
”Fans have been waiting a long time for a live-action Pokémon film. I know I have. There was a lot of care that went into this film and it was made with lots of respect and love for the Pokémon universe. It is everything you could want as a Pokémon fan and more.
Every time I watch the film, I can't help but name every Pokémon in my head as they come on screen. I think it's because I can't help but feel the magic that I felt as a kid playing the games or watching the animé. Maybe I'm biased. But there's something about seeing these characters that we've bonded over for so long finally come to life. It really is a magical experience.”