Exclusive: Edgar Ramirez On Playing An Elf In ‘Bright’Posted by Wilson Morales
December 20, 2017
Coming out 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, Bright airs on Netflix starting Dec. 22.
Also starring in the film are 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 Ramirez, who plays Kandomere, an Elf and FBI agent, the role allowed him to don on makeup that he hasn’t done before in films. He’s played an assassin, a liberator, a surfer and a boxer, so for this film, while he didn’t have put on or lose weight, the makeup job was just as intense. He will next play Gianni Versace in the second season of FX’s anthology series American Crime Story.
In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Ramirez talked about playing an elf and working with David Ayer.
What was the attractive to doing this particular role?
Edgar Ramirez: Well, I was fascinated by the world that the Bright creates, this amazing metaphor of basically the society that we live in with all the tension among the different groups and ethnic groups and racial groups, but all interpreted through the fantastic. You know, in a fantastical world. That was very interesting to me, and of course, David Ayer. David Ayer is an amazing filmmaker. He’s a great storyteller. For me, it was very appealing to explore such fresh material hand-in-hand with one of the most interesting filmmakers out there right now.
How would you describe your character, an elf, who seems to know more as to what’s going on?
Edgar Ramirez: Yeah. Well, Kandomere is an elf. Elves belong to the ruling class. They’re basically the 1%. They’re on the top of the food chain in the social structure of the society in Bright. What I found so appealing about Kandomere and so interesting is that he rebels against the place of privilege that his society’s telling him to be at. He works for the FBI Magic Task Force, like the magical division. He basically works for a salary. He works under the command of somebody else, and that’s something that elves would never allow themselves to be in. Elves don’t take orders from anyone.
Elves are basically the rulers, and Kandomere decides to step down that privilege and that place it puts him in society so that he can help to build a more secure and a more balanced world as Joel’s character, Jakoby, has done the same with the Orcs. Basically, these characters rebel against what society tells them to be and to become and to stay at. That, for me, was very exciting, because Joel’s is trying to move up in society, he’s trying to break out from the stereotype of being an orc, because orc basically equals to be a criminal, and for elves, elves equals to be a snob, completely ungrounded, completely untouched with reality being, and Kandomere wants to be the opposite of that. He wants to be with the people. He wants to try to build a more balanced world. He wants to be one with the rest of the society, although he comes from the 1%. Basically, for his own group, for his own species, from the elves, he’s a traitor, because he’s stepping down privilege, and that’s not expected from elves.
How was putting on the makeup, from the hair, the eyes, the ears. How long did the whole process take?
Edgar Ramirez: I think it took like an hour, and hour and maybe 15 minutes. Every time we put on those lenses, it was something that happened. Those lenses gave you like a tunnel vision, so they forced me and Noomi Rapace, who played the evil elf, to look really different. You know that within the mythology of Bright, elves have superpowers. We have a hypersensitivity, we have a heightened perception of reality. What the lenses made us feel really helped to get into this moody, very different vibe.
This movie has different scenes. There are the scenes with Will and Joel, there’s Noomi’s scenes, and then there are your scenes. Was there a point in time when the whole entire cast got together to get to know each other, because I know all of your scenes are different from each other?
Edgar Ramirez: I understand. Yes, we were shooting different scenes, but we hung out a lot on set. It’s true what you said. It’s broken down in scenes, almost like vignettes in terms of the interaction among the characters, but for some reason, we were lucky enough to hang out and to share a lot of time on set.
You’ve worked with other directors in the past. When you’re working with David, what are you picking up from him that’s new to you as an actor?
Edgar Ramirez: David has a very deep and very real understanding of this world, of the world that we explore in the film. He comes from South Los Angeles. He understands the otherness very well. He understands what it feels to be on the wrong side of the tracks. He understands what does it feel to be part of the 99%. He understands that very, very, very well. That was key to really do justice to the social commentary and to the world and to the issues that we explore in the film.
It’s a fantastical metaphor of issues that are very relevant to us in society, especially in a city like Los Angeles, where the movie takes place, but basically I think there are issues that we all have to deal with that are very relevant to us right now in the world. The issue of identity, the issue of breaking out from stereotypes, rebellion against what society tells you that you need to be, that you need to become, like breaking out of your limits, and also understanding other, the issue of empathy, of understanding the other’s suffering, and at the same time, how similar deep inside we are to the person that we believe is most different from us. He understands that very well.
I think that a story like this in the wrong hands could have been a disaster, but in David’s hands I felt very, very confident, because he understands this world very well, and his work with actors is really great. He understands the process very well. He gives you always very … He gives you directions that are very alive, that are very action-driven. What I mean is that he doesn’t get caught up in the intellectual. He really gives you something very doable to perform. He inspires you with images and with feelings. He’s got great imagination. We were all very lucky to have him as our director.
You’ve played a boxer, a surfer, a liberator, assassin. You’re about to play a fashion designer. What goes into the roles you take, why do you take them, and what are we expecting that we don’t know about yet from Gianni Versace?
Edgar Ramirez: Well, I love to explore different worlds and to put myself through exciting and different and surprising circumstances. That’s the reason why I’m an actor. There’s a reason I try to build into this variety of different worlds through my characters. That’s what’s exciting to me, to put myself in someone else’s shoes, shoes that are very different from the ones that I wear every day. For me, that’s the thrill, to be transformed by the circumstances of my characters. In terms of Gianni, well, there’s not much that I would like to reveal, because I want you to discover it yourself, but yeah, there are a lot of very surprising things around his family relationships and how focused he was on his family that I think is going to come as a surprise to a lot of people that normally, when they hear the word Versace, they tend to think of the parties and the sexuality and the hedonism and the lushness and the exuberance, but there was way, way, way more than that.
Clip – Leilah Was Here