Alisha Wainwright Talks Justin Timberlake, Hollywood Misconceptions and New Film 'Palmer' (Exclusive)

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Alisha Wainwright is excited to be a part of a movie with real meaning and an important message. Her new film, Palmer, explores themes not typically tackled in mainstream Hollywood, and the actress says she's happy to be involved in spreading joy and acceptance.

"I'm just happy to be a part of anything that sends a positive message," Wainwright told ET's Katie Krause. "Especially to children and people who don't typically get the spotlight in movies."

In Palmer, Wainwright stars opposite Justin Timberlake as well as child actor Ryder Allen. The film follows a former high school football star who is returning to his small hometown after 12 years behind bars. He also becomes the reluctant caretaker of young child, Sam, who is bullied by his classmates and even local adults.

The film addresses themes of gender identity in children and bullying in a way not often examined, and the power of love and acceptance in transforming your world and your life.

"I would love a world where people can be themselves and not be shamed or ridiculed for it," said Wainwright, who explained how when children bully others, it's often the result of "negative energy that's being instilled in them" at home.

Wainwright also had nothing but praise for her 8-year-old co-star, sharing, "If I could just have a tenth of his confidence, I could probably do a lot more."

"He's just unapologetically himself and when he came in to read for the part he had so much energy," she recalled. "He came in and was just like, 'This is what I'm doing, I'm here, how does everyone feel about it? OK, great.' It just charmed the pants off everybody."

For Wainwright, Palmer proved to be an opportunity to play a role that really cemented and strengthened the humanity of the story.

"What really gravitated me towards the project was the story and the way my character, Maggie, functioned in the story. She’s a grounding character who’s there to aide the two leads to be better people," she explained.

As for Timberlake -- whom Allen recently admitted to ET he'd never heard of while growing up -- Wainwright had a lot of praise for his performance and ability to truly become his character.

"This guy is a mega star and he’s one of the most recognizable faces. I thought he was incredible in this movie," she shared. "You’d be surprised how someone is in character. You can take away all the noise and just focus on what’s in front of you like, 'Let’s make a movie.'"

As for Allan not knowing who Timberlake was, Wainwright said it actually worked well for the movie.

"It’s nice when a little kid doesn’t know they’re acting opposite someone who is arguably one of the most recognized faces," she said.

Palmer is now streaming on Apple TV+.

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