There’s no-one that commands the screen quite like Denzel Washington.
The Academy Award winning actor, who picked up his gong for “Training Day,” can control the audience with just a stare, glare, smile or prolonged silence, while his ability to launch into powerful and impactful monologues has become legendary.
Obviously that means that any and every new Denzel Washington film is immediately worth watching. Luckily for cinephiles, moviegoers are able to once again bow down at the altar of Denzel this weekend with the release of “The Equalizer 2.”
But what is it that makes Denzel just so brilliant? I recently had the chance to talk to Antoine Fuqua, who has directed the actor in “Training Day,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Equalizer” and “The Equalizer 2,” during which time I asked him that very question.
“Denzel is fully committed, as regards to the character. He is that guy, he lives and breathes that guy when we are shooting. He is not, at that moment, Denzel Washington as we know him, he is that guy.”
“In the moment he brings little things. He has a certain power and presence and confidence about himself. So as a director you know he is going to bring something special to the screen in that situation.”
“He is not just going to walk through the scene and do the scene. We’ll block it and discuss it, but I am always surprised he’ll do things.”
“We had an agreement from ‘Training Day’ that we would never tie each other’s hands. So that meant having room to find moments that are just happening in the moment, because you never know what is going to happen in the moment.”
“He doesn’t anticipate what he is going to do, he knows the script, but things happen in the room.”
Washington’s method means that Fuqua is always prepared to adapt and change his own style, even when it comes to his prepared shot-list
“I’ll adjust. I have my own beliefs, and I’d say, ‘He is a spiritual guy. He might tap the glass 7 times.’ Which is a positive number. So I’ll get that. He’ll bend the napkin, so I’ll get that.”
“Absolutely, he would do little things, so I would go capture it and ask him to do it again. Or I would just be aware of his idiosyncrasies and make sure I’d get them.”
But while that is Denzel’s technique in front of the camera, Fuqua also discussed the actor’s preparation ahead of production, too.
“We talk about the character a lot. We talk about the script. We go through it with the writers and producers and discuss it, he’ll say things he believes and doesn’t believe are right for the character.”
“With the first film me and him sat in a room and discussed who the guy was. And Denzel was like, ‘I am thinking about shaving his head.’ I was like, ‘I love it.’ Right away. Because he was kind of clean and trying to live his life like a monk, and find himself a bit.”
“And in this one he has hair. And he is more involved with people, he is trying to mix into life a little bit more, becoming a driver.”
“So he can evolve and change all the time. We discuss those things a lot. Who he might be. What languages he might speak, and all those things when we go through the script, and then what we might add to it.”
“The Equalizer 2” is now in cinemas.