Believe it or not, but Denzel Washington has never seen the original “The Magnificent Seven.” That Western, from 1960, is one of the classics of the genre. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s been remade as the new “The Magnificent Seven,” starring Denzel Washington as the leader of a group of gunslingers hired to save a town from an evil land baron (Peter Sarsgaard). The two-time Oscar winner, 61, didn’t want the original to influence his performance, so he decided not to go back — and still hasn’t to this day.
“The Magnificent Seven” isn’t merely a story about heroes. These men, including the one you play, live on the edge.
It’s a story about good and evil, but my character is not completely good.
It’s the rare Western to show a black character as an officer of the law.
He’s a black man on the border that holds a position of authority. Yes, he's a loner, not afraid of anything and he is a master with his gun. However, he is not a bully. He is a very sociable guy, an honorable and brave man, you know — just the opposite of me. [Laughs] He is complex and does not usually deal with people.
Did you find some similarities with the character, though?
In some ways I’m similar to this character. I'm quite strange, and maybe that was right for this role, you know. I’m not one to socialize much with my colleagues and that's part of my nature. But there is a lot of talent on screen, that's for sure. I joked around with Chris [Pratt, one of his costars] and called him "Jurassic Boy." I consider him to be a very nice guy. He is a spiritual young man, a great guy. I call him "boy" because for me he’s a child, but he is really a mature man and a good guy. I like him a lot and everything he has at hand right now, with his superstardom but it doesn’t seem to affect him too much.
How fun was it to do a Western?
It was very enjoyable. We were always on our horses, all together as comrades who talk, joke — you know, guys who spin their guns. I hadn’t had the opportunity before, and I do not know if I'll have it again to make a Western. Perhaps it shouldn’t even be called a Western; it’s a story that happens on the border, on the edge of the young United States.