TORONTO – When an actor wins an Academy Award he or she usually tries to work with the director who helped guide them to the top of the mountain again. Often, it has great results. After winning a best supporting Oscar for “Terms of Endearment” Jack Nicholson reunited with James L. Brooks on “As Good As It Gets” and won best actor. Jennifer Lawrence immediately worked with her “Silver Linings Playbook” maestro, David O. Russell, on “American Hustle” which resulted in back to back nominations. Diane Weist won her first Oscar for Woody Allen's “Hannah and Her Sisters” and her second for his comedy “Bullets Over Broadway.” That's just one reason it's somewhat surprising the prolific Denzel Washington took 12 years to reunite with his “Training Day” director, Antoine Fuqua for “The Equalizer.”
Barely based on the late 1980's TV series of the same name, the new movie finds the two-time Oscar winner playing Robert McCall, a man too smart for his day job at a knock off Home Depot. After befriending a young prostitute who can't escape her profession (Chloe Grace Moretz), McCall becomes entangled with some angry Russian mobsters. What they don't realize is that McCall is a better assassin and fighter than their legendary hired gun (a not-so subtle Marton Csokas). While the film delivers on the action teased in the trailer, the picture also has a lot of quiet time dedicated to developing McCall and the other characters around him.
Speaking to both Washington and Fuqua at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival where “The Equalizer” premiered, both men say they were “looking” to reunite after their initial work experience. Unfortunately, a lot of things got in the way.
“It's a lot of things,” Washington admits. “It's scheduling. The right thing and, y'know I won't talk about it, but it will be less than 12 years before we work together again. I don't know what it was in the case of 'Training Day.' Were you on it before me?”
“No, you were thinking about [the role],” Fuqua recalls.
“You probably convinced me to do it, because it was Antoine's idea to make Alonso more the gangster element,” Washington says. “All the cars, the way I dressed. The way he operated came from Antoine. That script was more of an 80's, beer can in the back [type thing].”
For more on “The Equalizer” including what tiny nugget Fuqua included for the fans of the original show as well as Washington's thought on working with his talented co-star, Ms. Moretz, watch the interview embedded at the top of this post.
“The Equalizer” opens nationwide on Sept. 26.