Justice Smith opens up about how his perfectionism was making him 'miserable'

Justice Smith
Justice Smith

Justice Smith is opening up about how his new film has shifted how he approaches his work.

I Saw the TV Glow follows two teenagers (Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine) who are obsessed with a "mysterious late-night TV show" that ultimately leaves Smith's character questioning what's real and what's not as his "view of reality begins to crack."

The movie — filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun's follow-up to their 2021 film, We're All Going to the World's Fair — has been highly anticipated among horror/thriller fanatics due in no small part to its exploration of how TV can impact and inform our own lives.

However, for Smith, it was his experience making the film that had a real impact.

"It's funny because ... a lot of this movie taught me about letting go," he recently told People. "I think for a long time I'd been obsessed, I'd been so obsessed with quality, the quality of my performances that it was making me miserable. I was super hard on myself."

The actor has already put together an impressive resumé in the 12 years he's been working, starring in major films like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, while also increasingly taking on smaller but challenging projects, much like I Saw the TV Glow.

Finding that balance has been part of Smith's journey since before he made this particular film. Smith doesn't want to "dishonor [his] inner child's reason ... for getting into this craft" by taking on too many projects that might bring in a great paycheck but don't excite him about what he's doing.

And it sounds as if working on I Saw the TV Glow helped clarify why taking on projects that matter to him will benefit him personally.

"[It] gave me a lot of solace, a lot of trust in myself and acceptance of myself, which is the exact opposite journey that [the character] goes on," he said.