Exclusive: David Ayer on Directing Will Smith & Joel Edgerton In Fantasy Cop Film BrightPosted by Wilson Morales
December 27, 2017
Currently playing in select theaters and on Netflix is the fantasy cop Thriller “Bright,” starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton.
Directed by David Ayer from a script by Max Landis, the film also features 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.
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 (Street Kings, 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.
On the film’s Facebook page, the story set was described as the following:
Today, the South Central Los Angeles Police Force announced that Nicolas Jakoby, the first ever Orc Police Officer, joined the department solidifying their commitment to diversity and their acceptance of all communities and races. Jakoby will be partnering with the esteemed Human Officer Scott Ward and providing much needed insight into the Orc community in the Los Angeles area. “Orcs have been a part of our society for over a millennia and we welcome all who are ready and willing to serve on the force. Jakoby will be an excellent partner to Ward,” said Captain Perez.
For Ayer, he gets to working with Smith again after directing him in Suicide Squad. At the same time, he gets to direct a film that not only is sci-fi but almost an homage to all of his films that he’s written or directed (Street Kings, Training Day, Harsh Times, End of Watch and Suicide Squad)
In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Ayer talks about working with Smith and putting Bright together.
Was Will Smith always your first choice for the film?
David Ayer: Yeah. Once I knew he was available and interested, it was a no brainer for me. We had such a great relationship that we developed while shooting Suicide Squad and we have such a shorthand now, to go back on set with him with the trust and history in place, it was incredible.
There have other sci-fi films where a portal needs to be open for some entity to come in and wreak havoc on the world, what makes this film different?
David Ayer: It’s not really about that. It’s about two guys who need to get along and open their hearts a little bit. It’s about developing friendship, it’s about sacrifice and it’s about getting Will and Joel on the screen. They have this incredibly chemistry and the love and the humor is so different. It’s an edgy world. It’s not a big, silly PG-13 thing. There’s really stakes and real emotion.
How was working with Will and Joel?
David Ayer: That’s when I knew the movie would work, when I got them together on camera during a screen test and prep stage of the film. I’m sitting there at the monitor and they were just ad-libbing and I’m doubling over with laughter. That’s when I knew that we had a movie and that this was going to work.
For those who are familiar with most of your work, whether it’s written or directed, there are scenes in this film that they may find similar to one film or another of yours. How was working with Max Landis in terms of the script?
David Ayer: Well, Max wrote the script as an homage to my movies and he brought in a lot of those elements; but then added in this incredible layer of the magic, the Orcs and the Elves and things that I haven’t touched before as a filmmaker. It was interesting to have somebody interpret your body of work through their own eyes and then add something that you could never imagine.
When you saw your body of work in one film, did you decide to add more or take out some things?
David Ayer: Every movie is its own unique animal and with its own challenges. With the script, I just focused on just making the best version of that script that I could and taking all the lessons I learned as a filmmaker. On Suicide Squad, I learned about working with makeup effect and have that Oscar winning team getting my back again. On Bright, I know a lot more about effects than when I started out. It’s harder than it looks getting that stuff right and I’m very proud of how the visuals came together for Bright.
Can you talk about working with Noomi Rapace?
David Ayer: She’s a soldier. She’s down for anything and you have to hold her back a little bit because with some scenes, I’m like, “Don’t jump of that yourself. I need you to show up tomorrow because we have to keep shooting.” She’s fearless and physical and tough. She’s a great actor.
Was it challenging putting in the other characters from Edgar, Lucy and Enrique without losing focus on the storyline?
David Ayer: For me, every actor is special. Every face and voice is incredibly important. You can’t have a false note because movie is a tapestry and with one misstep, the whole thing can look bad. I treat every actor with respect. I treat every actor as if it’s their movie. I tell them that they are not a character in a scene, but they are someone living their own life and we’re just seeing a tiny portion of that life.
Can you talk about shooting that fairy sequence and working the CGI on that?
David Ayer: It’s always difficult when you do something like that. You have something that’s not there. You do your best to give the actor as much as possible so they can react and not just act. We did a full mockup buildout of the fairy and we were very tactical and very specific on how we shot it. I’m happy on how it came out. You just learn that it’s all about detail when you’re doing the effect.
Is there a sequel to this?
David Ayer: Well, it’s a big universe and it can go in a lot of directions but we will the audience tell us what they want after it premieres.
How much did you help out with the soundtrack?
David Ayer: Kevin Weaver, who is President of Atlantic Records, and I had such a great run with the Suicide Squad soundtrack that we wanted to do this again. I’m a producer on this with Kevin and I got to be heavily involved every step of the way and we created 13 pieces of original music that are in the voice and attitude of the film. What we’re seeing so far is that it could be another huge success.
What do you want to do next as opposed to what comes next?
David Ayer: I’m always open to anything. I’ve learned that you never know what’s going to come across your desk to read or what’s going to inspire you. What I’m doing next is a drama for Starz very much about Los Angeles.