Detective Pikachu’s titular mouse creature is voiced by Ryan Reynolds, which is a fine enough choice for a role previously filled only by two-syllable soprano exclamations (and, notably, one bizarre instance of a full sentence). The casting could’ve been better, though. There was a popular movement to have beloved thespian Danny DeVito lend his talents to the character, of course, but we’re talking now about another bold, sadly missed choice: that of English actor Bill Nighy, who would’ve brought a diehard fan’s fervor to the role, according to The Guardian.
In a piece on Detective Pikachu and Pokémon’s enduring place in post-’90s pop culture, journalist Chris Godfrey spoke to Nighy about his turn as supporting character “anthropologist and entrepreneur Howard Clifford” in the new movie.
Though Nighy says that he came into the film with little knowledge of what he was getting into (“You could have written what I knew about Pokémon on the head of a pin”), he was soon immersed in a strange, delightful new world of cartoon pocket monsters. As Godfrey puts it, “[Nighy] fell in love and has now genuinely joined the Pokéfandom.”
“I did a crash course in Pokémon lore and bought every book available, including the deeply impressive Pokédex,” Nighy states in the article. As if it wasn’t enough to picture the 69-year-old actor poring over images of duck wrestlers and sentient garbage water, he also mentions plans to vacation in France in order to observe its rare digital fauna. “Someone told me they went Pokémon [Go] hunting in Strasbourg,” Nighy says. “Which made an impression on me.”
Last, but far from least, the piece expands on Nighy’s obsessions with details regarding his physical collection. We learn that he “talks excitedly” about being given “a limited-edition Pikachu… by the CEO of the Pokémon Company” and that he’s kept and is storing the “ancient Pokémon wall hangings” decorating his Detective Pikachu character’s office set until he can “find a wall [in his home] strong enough to hold them.”
There are so many treasures revealed here that Godfrey had to tweet excerpts from his interview transcript that couldn’t make it into the rest of the piece—which somehow contain words on subjects other than Nighy’s Pokéthoughts.
Of course the top question that remains is which of the many fantastical creatures that fill the the Pokémon universe speaks most to Nighy’s sensibilities. Fortunately, that’s covered, too.
“The ancient Mew was probably my top, top favorite because he’s just majestic,” Nighy says. “He was elegant and powerful.”
Get this man his own spin-off Pokémon movie series where he voices the “majestic” Mew, stat.
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