There is no shortage of movies exploring cop partners who don’t see eye to eye but need to pull together to get the job done. Netflix’s Bright, an upcoming Netflix movie starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, is a twist on the formula. Scott Ward (Smith) is a human trying to accept his partner, Nick Jakoby, the first orc on the LAPD force. When a magic wand with potentially catastrophic power comes under their protection, they have to figure out how to keep it from destroying the world. It’s an alternate world with elves, fairies, and other creatures, but the inhabitants are dealing with some familiar issues, the cast explained at press conference during San Diego Comic-Con 2017.
“Society isn’t exactly perfect,” said Edgerton of Bright’s supernatural-filled L.A. Thanks to their service to the Dark Lord 2,000 years ago, orcs are still viewed with suspicion. “It was spectacular for me, as an African-American, playing a police officer, that was racist against the first orc on the force,” said Smith. “It was like the flip of those social concepts. As a black dude, you just don’t get a lot of movies where you’re racist.”
In a society where elves view orcs as beneath them, police get away with brutality toward the creatures. Director David Ayers (Suicide Squad) invites the audience to draw parallels. “There are people out there whose minds are closed. They don’t want to hear or see certain things,” said Ayers. “My hope is that through the allegories and using metaphors about life that maybe somebody who wouldn’t be receptive or understand what’s going on in somebody else’s heart may open their eyes a little bit.”
In that hostile climate, Nick tries to ingratiate himself. “He desperately wanted to be a human being,” said Edgerton of Nick. Despite his gruesome appearance, the orc went to a human school and attempted to make some cosmetic alterations to make himself look less like a monster. But having an orc on your side isn’t all bad. “There’s a couple beautiful things about orcs,” said Edgerton. Though they don’t understand sarcasm or humor, they’re very honest, and they have some unusual powers. “If you lie, I might not understand it in your inflection, but I’ll smell it on you,” he said.
Meanwhile, being an elf is sort of like being on a “never-ending trip,” said. Edgar Ramírez — and he wasn’t talking about vacation. They have their own way of getting information, and it’s almost like they can see through and into objects. “It’s kind of like you’re in a different state of mind, a different realm from everyone else,” said Lucy Fry. “They’re wide awake,” added Noomi Rapace. “It’s like they have six senses wide awake at the same time.”
As a human, Smith didn’t have any superpowers, unless you count looking exactly the same as he did when he pretended to be Ashley’s father on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “I hated that mustache,” he said.