Although his thriller follows the current trend of post-apocalyptic tales, don’t draw comparisons between futuristic dystopian dramas like The Road and Denzel Washington’s latest film, The Book of Eli.
Not directly to Mr. Washington anyhow.
“Actually (The Road) was supposed to come out a year ago,” parried the legendary actor with a chuckle during a recent interview. “I wouldn’t categorize (The Book of Eli). (People) have a desire to do that, so they say ‘post-apocalyptic action,’ but I think a spiritual film. That’s what’s interesting about it, I think it’s a lot of things.”
Whatever it is, The Book of Eli marks not just the Oscar winner’s latest foray into the action genre but it’s also one of the 55-year old actor’s most strenuous roles — playing a fist-fighting drifter who travels across desolate badlands protecting a cherished book from weapon-wielding thieves and criminals.
“I have a great job in that I get to step into all these different worlds, and so I really enjoyed it. I mean I really need to continue to do that kind of work and stretch — stretching is key at my age,” said Washington. “Life is short, life’s no joke … it makes me want for rich experiences and I thought that this was a very unusual part to play and it allowed me to dabble in the spiritual world and the martial arts world.”
One of the ways in which Washington did stretch was sharpening his combat skills. But while tutoring under such martial artists as Bruce Lee-disciple Dan Inosanto helped him prepare for the part, the boxing experience he gained from his Oscar-nominated role in 1999’s The Hurricane also proved an additional benefit.
“Because of boxing, I was comfortable with fighting — although you do some things in martial arts that are completely the opposite of boxing,” said the actor insisting what he mainly learned from martial arts was to “leave people alone” because you never know who they really are — a moral that applies to the film itself.
“The littlest, most unassuming person (can be) a killer,” Washington insisted.