On a whirlwind global tour for his latest release, Will Smith, along with the cast and crew of Bright, made a pit stop in Mumbai. The Hollywood star regaled Mumbaikars in true style, between his back-to-back interview schedules, meeting with fans, posing for selfies, and even beatboxing to Indian moves prior to the premiere. Netflix’s Bright is a fantasy-thriller directed by David Ayer, which revolves around two Los Angeles-based police officers, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton, the first orc officer), who stumble upon an elf that possesses a magic wand that could unleash the Dark Lord. Though set in modern-day LA, the film has strong fantasy elements featuring orcs and fairies and elves. Will Smith, who at 49, still does his own stunts, talks about the movie, what he wishes audiences take away from it and his favourite foods. (Watch Video of Will Smith Below)
You have been to India a number of times before, anything you would like to do this time around?
Will Smith -The one thing that I’d love to do, but I won’t be able to — it’s a tragedy — is I would love to go back to Akshay’s (Kumar) house for dinner. It was, literally, the best food I’ve ever had in my life. And I’m not going to be able to do that on this trip… I love Chicken Tikka Masala. Oh, my god, yes. Indian food and sushi are my two favourite foods around the world.
On the surface, Bright is a fantasy film but it also deals with racism and other sensitive issues. How pertinent is that in today’s day and age?
For me, that was part of the decision to make Bright. In (writer) Max Landis and (director) David Ayer’s world, the elves are the one percenters of society, they’re the haves and the orcs are the bottom of society, they’re the have-nots. And the humans they are in the middle. For my character as an African American police officer to be racist against orcs, that was such a social flip that I thought it would be fun and interesting to explore and it turned out to be a really informative experience for me around the idea of racism.
Do you feel we as humans have become extremely judgemental?
My experience playing a racist character, I used to think it was about being judgemental, but it’s less about being judgemental and it’s more about an ego- need for comparative superiority. That we need to be better than other people. Everybody is struggling for a sense of comparative superiority that our egos need to look at somebody and say, ‘Hey, we are better than them.’ It is an emotional survival mechanism that lives at the core of all of our isms — racism and sexism and nationalism, we all need ourselves and our group to be better than others. And it’s what’s difficult in the discussions that we have around diversity, for example. In the world of models, people will say you can’t just have models that look like this, you have to have plus size and models of colour and everything but what happens is both groups are struggling for comparative superiority so it’s just one is winning. Whatever group is losing, it feels like they’re right. But it’s actually the same thing, everyone is struggling for that space to feel better. But I do think that technology is forcing a human evolution.
Bright deals with concepts like a magic wand and the Dark Lord. What does that represent to you?
We talked about this a lot on the sets and we decided to stay away from it but the idea of magic being the power of the unknown and magic being hope, being the next evolutionary human superpower. Magic is what will save us from the Dark Lord. Our belief in magic and our belief in something even though we haven’t seen it happen before. In this film, magic was around unity. It was the necessity for all of us to come together in support of our magic and to be able to defeat the Dark Lord which is our lower selves, our base, chaotic, brutal, reptile selves.
Is there any takeaway you want audiences to have from this film?
There’s a really central idea of how we treat and believe and, you know, disrespect one another for our selfish cravings and needs… It’s entertainment, I want people to have fun and enjoy it but I think there’s interesting conversations that could be had definitely around bullying and the treatment of one another.
The film features a lot of intense action stunts and you’re an actor who does his own stunts. Do you enjoy that?
Yeah, that’s just stupid though (laughs). I think I’m done with this, that’s the last movie… There’s one stunt in the movie, there’s a part where my feet are on the back of a car and the car is spinning the wheels and pushing me back and like we actually did that. And I still think that was a good idea. See, I thought Joel said yes (to the stunt), so I said yes, and then I ended up doing mine and then I see Joel’s stuntman going and I’m like, ‘Hey what’s he doing?’ Joel was more cautious but I definitely channelled my inner Tom Cruise on that one.
Watch Video – Will Smith has a message for Akshay Kumar