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Why Denzel took 'Flight'

The A-lister dissects his project choices while offering up some of his recurring dreams for analysis >> Why playing a pilot struggling with addiction was ‘raw’

We at least now know how Denzel Washington would answer the age-old question of which super power is better to have, invisibility or flight. "I have a flying dream. I've had it for most of my life," Washington says, opening himself up to amateur dream interpreters everywhere. "Somehow I always end up near the city and I go underneath bridges. And I would just work my way down, and I'd stay under them. Then I would have the other part of the dream, it would be this takeoff forever, and I would be like, 'Oh, I've got stay below the street wires.' And then I'm starting to go back up, but then, you know, I've got to get back below the wires. I don't know what it means. I have no idea about what it means."

Washington engages in a slightly different kind of flying in "Flight," his latest film from director Robert Zemeckis. In it, the Oscar-winner portrays a talented but troubled pilot who brazenly lands a malfunctioning plane with minimal casualties — but he happens to be coming off a booze- and cocaine-fueled bender at the time. What unfolds is a man lauded as a hero and forced to face his demons at the same time.

The role was definitely a challenge for Washington — but then again, he likes a challenge. "I wouldn't say it was easy," he says of playing out the turmoil of his character's life. "But you're raw. It was just raw. Your nerves are raw."

And it certainly beats the alternative. "You know, tough spots for me are pictures I don't want to be on," he says. "When the people say, 'What's the hardest part of a movie?' You know, if you're on a movie and it's like the third day and you go, 'How many days have we been shooting?' 'Like, three.' 'How many more have we got to go?' '117.' That's a tough movie for me, but this was an adventure."

As for what drew Washington to the project in the first place, it turns out making "Flight" was part of keeping a promise to an old, departed friend. "My agent, the late Ed Limato, the last two scripts he gave me were 'Flight' and 'Safe House,'" Washington explains. "That was a part of it — a promise I made to him."

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