Will Smith discusses how modern themes of police racism are incorporated into David Ayer’s Netflix film, Bright. San Diego Comic-Con is a big deal for Netflix, with 2017 marking their first solo appearance in Hall H. Fans knew they were bringing a mix of original films and series’ to the event, and the first day has been all about movies. After the Death Note panel, Netflix ushered out director David Ayer and the stars of Bright; including Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, and more. Ayer already has plans for a Bright sequel and praised Netflix for allowing him the creative freedom to bring a film like this to life.
Bright has been touted as a buddy-cop film, but the newest trailer looks far more dark than usual genre staples like Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours. There’s bound to be some comedy, but what really sets this film apart is the fact that it’s a fantasy film set in Los Angeles where creatures like Orcs, Elves, and Fairies co-exist with humans. Race, and how some races abuse magic, is the major theme for the film, but it’s about more than skin color and whether or not someone has pointed ears.
It is unclear if Ayer’s inspiration for the film stemmed from the current political climate and unrest over police brutality, especially of minorities, but that sentiment was not lost on Smith. While on the SDCC panel, Variety captured video of Smith acknowledging that his Bright character, Scott Ward, is racist toward Orcs and how he personally felt at odds about it due to the reality of law enforcement today. The actor went on to say:
“David [Ayer] doesn’t feel the necessity to be delicate with those issues. [However], this is a film that is about enjoyment and entertainment and those undercurrents and undertones are specifically for people to be able to think about, not for people to make any judgement. We’re displaying the look and the feel… We did ride-alongs with LAPD and with the Sheriffs, and as an African-American, it was really a different perspective for me to be in the back of the cars, riding around with police officers in LA in predominately black and Hispanic neighborhoods and seeing the complexities from the other side of it.”
Even after emphasizing the entertainment aspect of the film, Smith went on to describe a scene from Bright that brings to mind the “Blue Lives Matter” movement. His character does not want an Orc for a partner, and says so in the SDCC trailer, which leads to what he describes below:
“There’s a great scene where we’re looking at the scene and something has happened with an Orc, and the police are trying to subdue the Orc. My character is sitting with Joel [Edgerton]’s character while the police are subduing the Orc, and I ask him, ‘I need to know if you’re a cop first or an Orc first.’ So it’s rugged, and it’s powerful, and it’s really bizarre for me to be on the other side of that.”
Beyond the heavy, real life themes scattered through Bright, the film is about coming together and fighting a darkness that threatens everyone in the city and the world over. The original script was penned by Max Landis (Chronicle), but was re-written by Ayer.
Next: Bright Official Trailer
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