Nadia Gray on playing Larika in Netflix’s first blockbuster, “Bright”

Photo: Julio Duffoo

The power of great acting is it convinces us that what’s happening on screen is real. We laugh, we cry, we feel a rush of adrenaline, or we cover our eyes in fear all because an actor made us believe. They take the words from a page and deliver them to your heart so you don’t just watch and listen, you also feel the story. When we watch a movie, we are transported to an incredible place where absolutely anything can happen.

For example, on December 22, Netflix is releasing a blockbuster called Bright. The story follows an orc and a human who must put aside their differences to save all existence from a “nuclear weapon that grants wishes!” And you thought Stranger Things was mind-blowingly original? Just wait.

Bright Key Art

Possibly the only person in the world who is more excited about this film than you are is the phenomenally talented, infectiously upbeat, forever fangirl named Nadia Gray. Nadia endured two hours in the makeup chair every day so she could transform into an evil elf named Larika. But don’t feel bad for her, working alongside Will Smith and Joel Edgerton while being directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch) made her daily 120 minutes of inactivity totally worth it!

“I’ve never been part of something that had a $90 million budget!” Nadia exclaimed. Gray was battling the flu, but she displayed no sign of weakness. She was inspiringly energetic and brimming with life. “This project is the first of its kind for Netflix, and you could feel that being on set. The energy was wonderful and cool. A lot of times, you walk onto a set and you feel a little bit of pressure from the top. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done, tenfold, and I didn’t feel any of that. It really says a lot about Netflix and David Ayer, they are both so wonderful!”

“I remember when we were all mourning the loss of Blockbuster,” she added. “That was a date night, you go and pick out a movie to take home. Then Netflix came along offering DVDs through the mail. And look where we are now! It’s so exciting. It will be interesting to see what this movie does for Netflix’s plan for original content moving forward.”

Photo: Julio Duffoo

Nadia told Entertaining Options that getting the role of Larika was like any other audition process, except for one little nerve-racking detail. “The callback was with David himself! When I found out, I was shaking in my boots. He asked me all about elves, and I know all about that world. It was so nuts. When I got the phone call about getting the role, it was insane because I love those types of movies. I love that whole genre! I’ve never been so excited about a role in my life!”

Speaking of roles, Nadia’s list of credits is quite impressive. She’s been in Pretty Little Liars, NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigation Service, 2 Broke Girls, Anger Management, Days of Our Lives, NCIS: Los Angeles, Pitch, Stitchers, Sandy Wexler, and more.

When Nadia started talking about the characters she’s played and the shows she’s worked on, that’s when her inner fangirl really started to show.

Production set of “Stitchers” (ABC Family/Eric McCandless)

“I love that you love Stitchers!” she expressed. Stitchers was the groundbreaking series on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) that gave viewers three incredible seasons of fantastic science, high-stakes storylines, and a remarkable cast. The show was about a secret government group of highly specialized individuals that worked together to “stitch” into the minds of recently deceased individuals in order to solve crimes. “The episode I was in was kind of funny. That cast and crew was amazing! It was me dipping my toe into the sci-fi water, I suppose, but the scale of Bright is so next level that it definitely feels like my first venture into the genre.”

And that opened the floodgates. Nadia started gushing about shows she loves.

Stranger Things 2

Stranger Things? Oh yeah, I crushed Season 2 in a day!” she declared proudly. “I’m so sad that we have to wait so long for the next season. I came so late to the first season because I was cynical, I couldn’t believe it was as good as people were saying. But it was!”

“It also took me a while to get into Game of Thrones because people wouldn’t shut up about it. I was like, ‘Okay, please, there’s no way it can be that great.’ But of course, it was. If you haven’t seen any episodes, do yourself a favor and check the series out. I’m telling you, you will cancel social plans to stay in and watch episodes!”

It is so refreshing to meet someone who so truly loves her job. Nadia is not afraid to gush about the things that excite or inspire her. There is no pretense or facade with her, she is completely who she is, extraordinarily alive and fully in the moment.

Photo: Julio Duffoo

“Yeah, I never take myself too seriously,” she confirmed, laughing.

In closing, Nadia offered a few final words on Bright: “We’ve heard Will [Smith] say that it’s a cross between Lord of the Rings and Training Day, and that is so true… and that should excite everyone! I have a feeling that this is going to be huge. It’s so entertaining and it’s so different from anything else I’ve ever seen. I’m really excited about this film. It’s the one I’m most proud of in my career. I feel so lucky that I get to be a part of this ride and see how this movie changes the film industry.”

David Ayer and Will Smith on the set of “Bright.”

Bright is available on Netflix on December 22.

Nadia Gray: IMDbFacebookInstagramTwitter
Bright: FacebookInstagramTwitter

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