The Wild Place Improv Took Joel Edgerton While Filming Bright

Bright Joel Edgerton Will Smith

Performing as an actor isn't all about reading from a script. It often takes some improv skill, as well as the ability to roll with the punches. That's a talent that Joel Edgerton needed on the set of David Ayer's Bright, as the man behind Suicide Squad pushed him to improvise about some pretty weird topics as Orcish cop Nick Jakoby. In fact, we recently sat down with Edgerton during the press junket for Bright in Los Angeles, and he explained that Ayer even made him improvise about an Orcish dating app called O-Date with co-star Will Smith. Edgerton addressed the weird acting exercise and said:

David got me in front of the camera with Will and he goes 'Jakoby, now it's time to tell Ward why your dating life's not going well. Tell him about the dating website.' And he was putting me in an improvisational, he asked the question and then he said 'action.' And I just had to start interacting with him in this character. I found myself talking about being on O-Date. Orc Date. It hadn't gone so well because I had to tell her that I was a policeman and she went to the bathroom and never came back to the table. And I found this kind of super sweet, somewhat pathetic, but pathetic in the sense that he's not willing to be ruthless in the world to make a stand. Just believed anything anybody said to him kind of character, and saw the goodness in everybody and kind of hoped for goodness to be reflected back to him. That helped shape a lot of the interactions with Will and I and his responses to certain things in the movie, and it was a terrifying moment that suddenly I stepped over the line to kind of realizing how I was going to approach playing the character.

As a director, David Ayer has become well-known for his work with anti-hero characters in the creation of his films. From Street Kings to Fury and End of Watch, the protagonists of his stories tend to have harder edges and more cynical outlooks on life. That's what makes Joel Edgerton's Nick Jakoby so distinct; he's a soft-hearted man in a nasty world, and those incredibly bizarre moments of "somewhat pathetic" banter and improv helped shape a character who broke new ground for Ayer and Edgerton in their respective careers. The exchange didn't even make it into the final cut of the movie; it was just there to help inform a personality and add a layer of depth.

The creation of something like O-Date also lines up nicely with the world established by screenwriter Max Landis. The man behind the Chronicle screenplay has compared the world created by Bright to Star Wars, and much of that comparison stems from the sheer scope and potential in a gritty, hard-R world populated by character ripped from the universe of Lord of the Rings and the Brothers Grimm. It's evident that there's quite a bit of room to continue exploring the Bright world (as shown by the fact that a sequel is already in development), and it's the little details like O-Date that continue to reinforce how deep a filmmaker and his/her crew can go into this realm.

Bright will make its Netflix debut tomorrow, December 22; if you want to learn more about the film, check out our in-depth review and take a look at our review roundup to see what other critics are saying.

Beyond that, make sure to check out all of the crazy fairy tale action for yourself and check out our Netflix premiere guide to see what else the streaming service has in store for the rest of the year. On the theatrical side of the film industry, you can also take a glance at our 2017 movie premiere guide and our 2018 movie premiere guide.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.