By Dayna Mahannah
It’s possible the fact Lucy Fry could still speak Elvish upon waking is what separated reality’s night shoots on the set of Bright from a dream for the rising actress. “I would wake up the next day and be like, ‘Whoa. That can’t be real,’” Fry says over the phone from Toronto, where she is promoting her Netflix Original blockbuster at Toronto Press Day. “The sun would go down in Los Angeles and we’d all go downtown into these dark alleyways.” During the filming of this action-fantasy, co-starring Will Smith, she spent two hours in makeup everyday becoming Tikka, an Elf skirting between evil and good. “Then I would walk out of the trailer, it would be dark, and Joel [Edgerton] would have transformed into an Orc for the rest of the night and there would be lizard people walking around… It was like going into a different world.”
Elvish, a language created by David J. Peterson, who also created the lingo for Game of Thrones, is not the only skill Fry acquired while filming Bright. The humble, up-and-coming Aussie actress studied animal work and physicality with a coach, researched mysticism and the Underworld, and took dancing lessons. The film’s makeup artist, Oscar-winner Alessandro Bertolazzi, taught Fry how to draw, she learned karate and also delved into Reiki because her character is a healer. “I really went for it. If the audience is going to believe it’s real, then I need to believe it’s real.”
Bright, set in an alternate world where society meshes humans and fantastical creatures, follows two cops on patrol—a human (Will Smith) and his Orc partner (Joel Edgerton)—who get caught in a turf war over a weapon that leads them on a dangerous nighttime chase through South LA. Struggling to find her identity, Tikka is a voice in the narrative of the film’s allegorical social issues, where certain species feel the burn of discrimination. “It’s a comment on the underbelly of the US and things that people don’t wanna look at,” Fry says. In the dynamic between humans and Orcs, director David Ayer composes a friction of classes that sits a little too close to home. Yet, “The relationship between [Smith] and [Edgerton] is the best thing about the movie. They are so funny together… It’s a really important time to be telling this story.”
Bright’s cast is of quite the diverse variety itself. Noomi Rapace, who plays “the most incredible female villain ever,” is from Sweden; Smith is American; Edgerton and Fry hail from Australia; Edgar Ramirez is of Venezuelan descent; other cast members are Vietnamese and Norwegian. Fry enthuses about sharing a set with a vibrant and cross-cultured cast, but ruminates on being part of a tale centred in a country foreign to her. “It’s weird for me to be telling a story that’s commenting on America.” This, however, allows Fry to empathize with her Elf character. “She’s running away from this cult that’s brainwashing her… it’s sort of like the Illuminati, but it’s called the Inferni.” Tikka rejects her family after realizing their morals are awry, but doesn’t know yet what is good, how to fight for it or stand up for herself. “It… felt appropriate as a bit of an outsider to tell that perspective.”
Fry’s lucid dream world on the set of Bright isn’t so far off from reality. Comedy and fantastical elements give the social commentary a soft landing, but the parallels we can connect to the real world are relevant. “Hopefully… people who might not have been open to these sort of ideas will watch the movie because it’s so entertaining and fast-paced. If it can create one little idea of change in someone, then that would be really exciting.”
Lucy Fry stars as Tikka in Bright, out on Netflix internationally December 22.