What we learned at the Bright press conference at San Diego Comic-Con
We just attended the Bright press conference at San Diego Comic-Con with director David Ayer, Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry and Edgar Ramirez, as well as producers Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless. We learned about what it was like to work on a film for Netflix, a little about the Orcs and Elves, Will Smith playing a cop who is racist against Orcs, and more.
The cast spoke about how people view things now, streaming vs. in theaters. Smith told the crowd, “I have a 16-year old, a 19-year old and a 25-year old, so their viewing habits are almost anthropological… they go to the movies on Friday and Saturday nights, but they watch Netflix during the week. It’s two completely different experiences… I was on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ and on the streets, people were like, ‘Will, Will, Will!” Then I did ‘Independence Day.’ Then Monday, after ‘Independence Day’ came out, it was the first time anybody referred to me as Mr. Smith. There is definitely something about that big screen that penetrates people in a very different kind of way. But it’s a different medium.”
Ayer talked about how the film was shot. He explained that it was shot on a Lexus 65 camera and filmed like a major feature. “It’s less about how we’re going to see, and more about the content.”
Edgerton talked about the fantasy aspect of the world versus the world that we know. He said, “It’s interesting. There are a lot of sort of movies that deal with fantasy, or a mash up of reality and fantasy. A lot of them deal with an alien invasion in the sense that the world deals with a sudden change.” He referenced District 9 because the world has been living with the aliens for quite some time. “They’re a part of society,” he said of the Orcs and the Elves, “and the society is settled just so.” The Elves, he explained, dealt with the Dark Lord thousands of years ago and that they’re still paying for it. “And I’m the first Orc who’s been allowed in the LAPD under a diversity program.” He explained that his character really wanted to be human. “He wanted to be a human being. He spent his whole life going to a human school. He cut his teeth so he could look more human and he was studying what it was like to be a human being.” He said he thought he was going to play him like an animal that looks human, but ended up playing an animal who is trying to be a conservative human.
Newman said, “This is drama set in a world where there is a huge difference, but it is our world… we shot in Los Angeles, always at night.” He said they wanted it to look real and that shooting there made it really show.
Smith talked about the oddness of being an African American cop who is racist against Orcs. “It’s like the flip of those social concepts and it’s like, as a black dude, you don’t get a lot of movies where you’re the racist,” he laughed. “I don’t want no Orc in my car! You just never get to say that.”
Ayer was asked about a statement where he said he might not have gotten a chance to make this film at a studio and what he changes or even compromised to get this done with Netflix. Smith joked as his “lawyer” and said not to answer. Ayer said, “It’s hard to speak for what could have been… but I can say that this is the movie that should have been.” He said every movie is different and explained that he got to do practical stunts in Los Angeles, and, “as a filmmaker, to get to spend more time on the creative than working on a spread sheet… is a true pleasure.” Ramirez said that this would have been a rated R movie if it was done by a studio and joked about “a lot of Orc nudity.” “Once you go Orc, you never go back,” joked Smith. He talked about the different business plan that Netflix has as a subscription-based company. He said that they know how many people will watch. “The risk profile is different. So Netflix can make a hard rated R film for a $170 million [though he made sure to say that this wasn’t the budget], so studios can’t do that if the executive wants to be at work on Monday.” He explained that they’d have to make it PG-13 to make back the money. “It’s a huge decision when you make a film of that magnitude based on the risk profile.” Rapace added that there are fewer middle men to deal with.
Ayer talked about how different LA was from the last time he shot there and said that in a way, this was an architectural document of the buildings in LA. He said there were many that were being torn down as they were shooting. Fry talked about what it was like to shoot at night there, as an Australian actress. She said, “It was kind of the first time that I had explored LA in Downtown LA. It was so exciting because it was at nighttime… it would be like all the magical creatures kind of coming out of the alleyways. There were like, lizard people… you’d see these heads and sort of cloaks and it turns out that Downtown LA is this magical dreamy world. Rapace told the crowd that she grew up in Iceland, “and they believe in Elves and Fairies and all that.” She joked that the rest of them were coming into her world. Ramirez said, “I grew up in Venezuela and we believe in everything.” He also said that he was often directed in Spanish to make the rest of the cast uncomfortable and feed into the tension of the story.
Ayer addressed the possibility of a sequel, saying that there is a rich mythology here to explore. He said, “Movies are movies and this is a movie. If we do a sequel, we’ll tell more of the story, and then maybe we’ll tell more of the story after that. That’s what so great about this universe… it lends itself to so much.”
Smith was asked about whether or not we’ll see violence perpetrated by cops here like we’ve been seeing from cops in real life. Smith said, “Yeah, for sure,” he laughed. David isn’t… he doesn’t find the necessity to be delicate with those issues. This is a film that is about enjoyment and entertainment and those undercurrents and undertones of the film are specifically for people to be able to think about it and not to make any judgements.” He spoke about a scene where an Orc is being beaten by cops and where his character asks Edgerton’s character if he’s a cop first or an Orc first. He also said he did ride alongs with the LAPD and that it was odd to be in the back of a police vehicle in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Rapace spoke about good and evil in the film. “David,” she said, “Your view of the world isn’t so black and white.” She said that there isn’t really black and white, good and evil in the world. “I’m the villain, my actions are very cruel and violent… but in my head and in my heart I want to create a better world.” She referenced Ramirez’s character saying, “but he is a good elf, but also not so good.”
The cast was asked what we should know about the Orcs and Elves. Of the Orcs, Rapace laughed, “They’re sexy as f***!” Edgerton said, “Look, there are a couple of beautiful things about Orcs. They don’t understand sarcasm or irony. My Orc is very honest. If you lie, I might not understand it in your inflection. I can smell it on you.” Fry told us that the Elves are very aware of everything in their environment. Ramirez said it was like a “never-ending trip.”
Bright is Suicide Squad director David Ayer’s next project and will be coming to Netflix on December 22. The film re-teams Ayer with Suicide Squad star Will Smith and is also headlined by Joel Edgerton (The Gift, Exodus: Gods and Kings) and Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus). Ayer explained that hoped the metaphors in the film might allow some people to open their minds to what is happening.
Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time, this action-thriller directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch, writer of Training Day) follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward, a human (Will Smith), and Jakoby, an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which in the wrong hands could destroy everything.
The Netflix original film stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez, Andrea Navedo, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Margaret Cho, Brad William Henke, Dawn Olivieri, and Kenneth Choi. The film is directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis. David Ayer, Eric Newman, and Bryan Unkeless serve as producers.