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TV and Movies

'Bright' made Lucy Fry perform an exorcism on Will Smith

Lucy Fry stars in "Bright", the first Netflix movie with Hollywood visuals and sound. She enlightens CNET about wild times off-screen with co-star Will Smith.

Matt Kennedy/Netflix

Back in 2016, in a casting room in LA, spurts of nonsense flew from Lucy Fry's mouth as she pretended to cast out a demon from Will Smith.

It was the Australian actress' final audition for the character of Tikka, a young elf in the Netflix original movie "Bright," which started streaming on Friday. "Bright" explores an alternative LA, where magical communities live among the palm tree-lined streets, in churches with indoor trees whose branches are made of real antlers and in nightclubs where elves crash through mirrors with guns blazing.

Lucy Fry attends the Netflix premiere for "Bright" on Dec. 13 in Westwood, California.

Araya Diaz/Getty

From the meticulous sets, you can see how much Netflix has invested in making a theatre-quality movie, with an A-list cast, blockbuster action and hefty budget. It's Netflix's most expensive movie yet at $90 million (about £67.2 million, AU$117 million).

The movie plays on the buddy-cop genre, pairing Smith's hard-edged experienced officer with Joel Edgerton in blue makeup and pointed-ear prosthetics as a hilariously awkward orc. They run into Tikka and a magic wand that's more dangerous than it sounds, its power sought out by humans and magical creatures for bad, bad things.

The final Tikka audition was also Fry's first time meeting Smith, an Academy Award-nominated actor. Oh, he's won four Grammys, too. And he has five Golden Globe nominations. (He'll win one day, just like Leo did!)

"I was speaking gibberish, pretending to pull stuff out of Will's head and crawling around the room, really crazed," Fry recalls, making a high-pitched wailing sound as an example of what she did. She has a warm and cheerful face, with short, wavy blond hair that almost seems to dance when she laughs at herself, which is often. She wears a bright yellow dress. Behind her in her hotel room is a gorgeous view of Sydney, where she gathers her legs up on the couch for a day of press interviews.

"At the end, I was like that either went really well or really bad."

Needless to say, it was the former.

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Fry plays a 19-year-old American tourist out for revenge in the TV spin-off of "Wolf Creek."

Stan

And for Fry, who's flitted through a handful of relatively smaller projects, from "Vampire Academy" to the "Wolf Creek" TV spin-off, this could be a bigger break.

"I mean it already feels like it, just in terms of my confidence," the 25-year-old Queenslander says.

The names rattled off alongside hers on the "Bright" cast list include not only Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, but "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" actress Noomi Rapace, who plays Tikka's sister and the main villain seeking the wand, and "Suicide Squad" director David Ayer, directing here as well.

A heap of news stories described Ayer's unorthodox methods for getting the "Suicide Squad" cast to bond, including having them fight each other (he reckons punching someone in the face teaches you a lot about a person) and share a good old chat about their personal lives and secrets. These exercises went from intense to shocking, when actor Jared Leto decided to send cast mate Margot Robbie a love letter and a package that held a live black rat (and that's not even the most macabre gift he presented to the "SKWAD").

lucy-fry-bright

Fry stars in "Bright" alongside Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (the big orc rocking a hoodie on the left).

Matt Kennedy/Netflix

The cast of "Bright," Fry says, weathered similar Ayer tricks. Before filming, Ayer gathered the elves (Edgar Ramirez, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz) at a martial arts dojo in downtown LA. "He wanted us to fight not just physically but emotionally," Fry says. After punching each other, they filed out into the alley behind the dojo and sat and talked about their lives, revealing challenges they'd faced. By asking the cast members to open up, Ayer brought them closer.

"He could also use these things to trigger us," Fry explains. "By bringing our personal needs and fears and lives into the story, we can change and grow."

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Director David Ayer brought some of his "Suicide Squad" cast bonding tactics to "Bright."

Matt Kennedy/Netflix

Despite their exorcism experience, Fry barely saw Smith until the first day of shooting. Ayer wanted her to be nervous around the cops as Tikka tested out their trustworthiness.

"David is a really intelligent director, the way that he creates the perfect kind of chemistry between people," she says. 

Fry may not be a household name, but her body of work spans TV, film and three different streaming platforms: "11.22.63" for Hulu, "Wolf Creek" for Stan and "Bright" for Netflix. She might just be the perfect spokeswoman for original streaming content.

"It's giving consumers a lot of power, to say what they want to watch," Fry says. She doesn't think "Wolf Creek," in which she stars, would have been developed for TV as a spin-off of the original movie and its sequel, "Wolf Creek 2," if it weren't for streamers.

"Sometimes with big studio movies there's a lot of cooks in the kitchen with different ideas of what it should be," Fry says. "Whereas with this, Netflix said, 'OK, here, make the movie that you want to make, tell the story that you want to tell.'"

Although this does mean her mum has to subscribe to several platforms. "We've got all of them," Fry says, laughing as she glances at her mother, who smiles back from her seat by the TV across the room.

Fry's future looks, well, bright. She's in a movie called "Highway," a thriller slated for next year, and if she needs acting tips, she has contacts. As in, phone contacts. She started with Will Smith blurting gibberish at him, now she talks to him over text message.

"Every now and then I'll send Will a message and when he writes back I'm like, 'Oh my god, he actually wrote back!'"

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