Denzel Washington has been the guy with the gun in so many movies, one of his greatest performances in Antoine Fuqua's “Training Day.” The director and the iconic actor have combined once again for “The Equalizer,” putting Washington in the role of an ex-operative who's attempts to live a quiet life after faking his own death. The hard-R-rated film seems to be putting Washington into familiar territory in some ways, with stunts, firearms and singular mission.
Though, Washington's character Robert McCall — who shares some of the tendencies and the name of the same lead from 1980s “The Equalizer” TV show, and not much else — has OCD. McCall finds himself in a position rescuing and seeking justice for his new friend Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), who happens to be a prostitute, which then puts him in the line-of-sight of Russian gangsters. He's very controlled, like Washington himself seemed to be during a chat with HitFix and other journalists at the film site in Boston.
Washington didn't want to give too much away. The script was one, more than anything, that had him collaborating with Fuqua, whom he trusts to make him, again, “the man who kills.” That comfortability shone through in remarkable fashion during the interview on set, in a home improvement store at which McCall works.
Below are some of the more amusing quotes Washington gave us.
On balancing heavy dialogue with Moretz with action packed sequences:
Washington: “I think my character and Chloe's sort of connect and then she's literally snatched away. So he doesn't come out of the gate just fighting. He's trying to lead a normal life, but it's not normal. He's not able to sleep. Actually in the film, or in the script anyway, after he dealt with Slavi's men is the first time we see him actually get a good night's rest. So he's got issues. He's a night person and obviously because of her work Chloe's character is a night person.”
On knowing his role:
Interviewer: “[Producer] Todd [Black] told us that the script had been groomed for you.”
Washington: “What does that mean?”
Interviewer: “That's what I was going to ask you.”
Washington: “I don”t know what that means. I'm sad to hear that. And what does that mean? I'm playing the man who kills.”
On how many other actors tend toward picking movies based on sequel potential:
Washington: “No. No, everybody else is, but I'm not. You don't have a sequel without a good film, so there's no point in thinking about sequels. I'm just trying to be a part of making the best film that I can.”
Interviewer: “So you weren't looking for a potential franchise?”
Washington: “No, never have. I don”t know what that is. Obviously I guess when you have a name, “Spider-Man” or something, some name brand thing there is that potential. I mean, you don't look at “Training Day” and go “I'm going to do Training Day 2.” I don”t look at it that way, I never have.”
On having never worked on a franchise:
Interviewer: “Are you aware that you've actually been put as No. 2 for the highest grossing stars who have not done a franchise?”
Washington: “That and $1.50 will get me on the subway, right? Or is it $2.50 now? I'm No. 2 for the what, now?”
Interviewer: “They said for stars who have not done franchise films.”
Washington: “They've got more categories…stars who have not done franchises. Is that a compliment? …Okay, good for me.”
Interviewer: You were right behind Leonardo DiCaprio, though technically he should be disqualified because he's in “Critters 3.”
Washington: “I'll tell him you said so.”
On wanting to talk about his knee brace:
Washington: “You guys got to talk about my knee brace, [laughs] I'm sure somebody will.”
Interviewer: “Stylish accessory.”
Washington: “Yeah, stylish. No, it's because this concrete floor is rough on… I got a bad wheel. I'm sorry, you were saying what?”
On doing some stunts:
Interviewer: “Has anything held you back physically? [Black said] you do a lot of your own stunts.”
Washington: “Father time. No, I'm alright [knocks on wood].”
On giving input on who he works with:
Washington: “I don”t know what it is contractually, but the most important decision if I'm on the film with the director is the director. When you trust the director you want to trust his or her choices. I don't want to say, “No, I don”t like this girl or that guy,” when the director really loves them. No, you want to go with what the director likes.”
On Marton Csokas, who plays a leading henchman Teddy:
Washington: “Fine actor, an intense actor. He has a look. He's not really that intense. He's kind of a laid back guy, but he brings it. He looks the part, scary. I'm scared of him.”
On Chloe Grace Moretz:
Washington: “She's a pro. She's older, but when I worked with Dakota Fanning, it's just, they're serious pros, doesn”t matter what age they are. And Chloe's been in the business what? Eight years, yeah, so she knows what she's doing, really professional. It”s all good.”
Can Washington tell when younger actors have “it?”
Washington: “Hopefully, by the time they're in a movie I'm in, they”ve got 'it.'”
Interviewer: “Do you have plans to direct again any time soon?”
Washington: “It keeps getting pushed back. My agents keep pushing it.”
Is there someone Washington hasn't worked with yet that he wants to?
Washington: “A lot of people. Any actor who's last name ends with “O”: De Niro, Pacino. There's so many. I was watching “Mean Streets” the other night, you ever see that? Oh man, it's amazing. Harvey Keitel, all those guys, so yeah there's a lot.
“You know it's harder, I guess, than you think to hook up with some of the people you want to work with. They're doing something, I'm doing something, the schedules have to always work together and it has to be the right material.
“So yeah, there's a lot of great directors I haven't worked with and great, great actors. Meryl Streep.”
“The Equalizer” is in theaters on Sept. 26, 2014.