Pokemon Movie Finds Its Female Lead With 'Big Little Lies' Actress

'The Get Down' star Justice Smith will also star in the live-action film.
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Kathryn Newton

Kathryn Newton, who appeared in HBO's Big Little Lies, has nabbed the female lead for Legendary’s live-action movie adaptation of Pokemon. 

The Get Down star Justice Smith was picked as the male lead for the movie based on the gaming franchise and the project, titled Detective Pikachu, just wrapped an intense session of reading and testing actresses who would appear opposite him.

Stranger Things star Natalia Dyer, Haley Lu Richardson (who broke out earlier this year with M. Night Shyamalan’s Split) and 13 Reasons Why star Katherine Langford were also in the running for the role.

Newton, who had a big fall with roles in Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — both movies generating major awards buzz — is now in negotiations.

The concept of Pokemon, which was initially a card-collecting game as well as anime, sees players acting as trainers who collect cute but powerful monsters called Pokemon in order to compete in battle tournaments.

Pikachu is a species of Pokemon, while Detective Pikachu the character is a peculiar sort from the Pikachu set, a self-styled investigator who befriends a human boy and together they solve mysteries.

The role Newton nabbed is that of Lucy, a sassy journalist who goes on an adventure with the boy, played by Smith, and Pikachu, who will be a motion-capture creation for the movie. (In the Pokemon universe, Lucy also has her own Pokemon sidekick, a Psyduck. It is not known if he will appear in the movie.)

Production is due to start mid-January in London with Alex Hirsch and Nicole Perlman writing the latest draft. Universal will handle distribution of the live-action film outside Japan; Toho will handle distribution in Japan.

Newton is repped by Innovative Artists and Management 360.

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