Category Archives: Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: Justice Smith from ‘Paper Towns’

FullSizeRenderNewcomer Justice Smith gave us an EXCLUSIVE interview about starring in the upcoming movie, Paper Towns.

When mysterious Margo (Cara Delevingne) disappears, Q (Nat Wolff) and his friends set out on a road trip to find out what happened to her. Justice plays Radar, one of Q’s best friends.

The movie, based on a book by best-selling author John Green, is Justice’s first role on the big screen—and he could not be more excited.

At the time of the audition, he was not aware of Paper Towns, he did however read one of John Green’s other books, ‘Abundance of Katharines’. Justice only knew what he read off the script they had given him for Paper Towns at the audition. Afterwards, he was elated to find out more about his character.

“When I realized what it was and I read the book and I read the whole script, I started to incorporate who the character actually is. I feel like I already had a way I was going to play him and luckily it was not too far off from what is in the book and what the fans are going to want to see from Radar.”

Though Justice does not own the world’s largest collection of black Santas like Radar’s parents do, the two still share a lot of similarities.

“We’re both very intelligent! We’re both very loyal. Radar is a little more reserved and I feel like I can be that sometimes. I very much enjoy my privacy and my reticence and not always being big and out. Radar’s very introverted… and we both wear glasses sometimes!”

John Green, who also penned The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, held high praise for the way Justice handled his character.

“From the moment I saw Justice’s audition, I knew we’d lucked into the perfect Radar. I didn’t yet know of course that he is brilliant and charming in life as well as in character, but I am so grateful that he will forever more be Radar to me.”

The encouragement and support from John Green and fans of the book (called ‘Nerdfighters’) constantly lifted up the cast’s spirits on set. The love from the fandom shook away Justice’s doubts of playing the character wrong, and John Green’s support took the pressure of his shoulders.

“John really trusted all of us. He once said that we know the characters more than he does now. It’s because we had to live as these characters everyday during the two months we were shooting. I guess we discovered more about the characters and really incorporated them into our own lives. We were really supported and trusted and that made everything easier.”

Justice said he would not change anything about the experience even if he could. Like the characters of Paper Towns, at the end of the day, he discovered something new about himself through his journey, emerging with experience and new friendships that will last a lifetime.

“I learned a lot about myself from this experience. It was my first movie and there’s a lot of technical lingo I learned. I feel like the people I got to know have shaped me in new ways. It’s hard to pinpoint—I guess I’m not that self-aware—but I do feel like I’ve grown a lot especially in acting.”

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Meet Justice Smith who plays Radar in John Green’s ‘Paper Towns’ movie

DSC01792With a large fan base of Nerdfighters and last year’s success of “The Fault In Our Stars movie,” it’s no surprise that the world is eagerly awaiting the release of “Paper Towns.” Based on the book by John Green, Paper Towns stars a cast of fresh new faces—among them, Orange County School of the Arts’ very own alum, Justice Smith, class of ’13.

Paper Towns is Smith’s first movie, and the journey has been incredible, to say the least. He describes everything in his past as stepping stones that have gotten him to where he is today, and hopefully will continue to propel him forward in the future. His high school career as part of OCSA’s Acting Conservatory marked the very beginning. Students at OCSA attend academic classes in the morning, and conservatory classes in the afternoon until evening.

“OCSA taught me a lot of what I know. I don’t think I would be where I am if it wasn’t for OCSA,” reflected Smith. “I think constantly being in class everyday and working that muscle over and over really helped give me confidence and what I need to go out and work.”
Smith credits many of his teachers in the conservatory for his success today, including Ms. Sebelius who inspired Smith’s love of Shakespeare, Mr. Paul, the conservatory director at the time, Mr. Uribe, and Mr. Nathan.

In his senior year of high school, Smith was selected to be part of the prestigious YoungArts program, joining the likes of Viola Davis, Kerry Washington and Josh Groban.

“I got to go to YoungArts because of OCSA,” he explained. “Mr. Paul introduced me to that and I sent in my audition tape. They flew me out to Florida, and it was a weeklong intensive with all these awesome masters and renowned people. YoungArts was a great experience. It gave me all these other opportunities. I got to be on a Master Class on HBO because of YoungArts. I got to fly places and speak at places because of YoungArts. I really owe a lot to them. It was amazing. I got to meet lots of great people and lots of great teachers.”

One thing led to another and before he knew it, Smith landed the role of Radar for Paper Towns. Though official publicity for the movie has not started, the cast is already experiencing love from fans who call themselves Nerdfighters. Their motto is, “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome,” popularized by author and vlogger John Green and his brother, Hank.

“When I was out in North Carolina there were a lot of people who were extras on set,” said Smith. “They were fans of the book, so they wanted to take pictures and talk. They were super supportive. John Green’s fans are super nice and awesome. Nerdfighters are smart kids who are passionate about something.”
Working with Green was an experience he’ll never forget. The author put great trust in the cast of fresh faces, which encouraged the actors along with the fans’ support.

“From the moment I saw Justice’s audition, I knew we’d lucked into the perfect Radar,” said Green. “I didn’t yet know of course that he is brilliant and charming in life as well as in character, but I am so grateful that he will forever more be Radar to me.”
Smith’s future looks bright and promising—and his family couldn’t be prouder. Though his role in Paper Towns certainly kicked his career off to a great start, it did not make him exempt from family chores—his mom still makes him take out the trash. The people in his life still treat him as the Justice Smith they’ve always known.

“I have lots of new relationships but all my old friends still treat me the same. I’m just a whacky weird kid,” he said.

Keep your eyes peeled for more of Smith in the future!

“I’ve always wanted to be in a coming-of-age movie and I feel like I did that. I have a lot of dream roles in plays because I’m fascinated with plays,” he mused. “[In movies], I would love to play a superhero. They’re doing a new Spiderman right now and I don’t know what their take is on that but I would love to read for Miles Morales.”
Catch Paper Towns in theaters June 5, 2015!


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