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Denzel Washington's Roman J. Israel, Esq has been substantially re-edited

Denzel Washington Roman J. Israel, Esq. Colin Farrell Dan Gilroy

After Dan Gilroy's NIGHTCRAWLER was met with thunderous applause, audiences were left anxiously awaiting Gilroy's next project, which turned out to be ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ., a legal thriller starring Denzel Washington as the titular character. Those hoping for another film on par with NIGHTCRAWLER were a little disappointed when the film received mixed reviews following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and clearly Dan Gilroy believed that he could mold the film into something better.

Deadline reports that ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. has been "substantially reconfigured" by Dan Gilroy and Denzel Washington, in order to become a "much leaner, tighter and more focused drama." According to the outlet, twelve minutes have been chopped from the film, a key scene has been moved up with another being dropped altogether, and the musical backdrop has been "radically changed." Gilroy said that they were back in the editing room the day after TIFF:

The first time we actually showed the film to a real audience was in Toronto. We went right from the cutting room to the Ryerson Theatre. We wanted to make that festival but realized, watching with that crowd, that Denzel so inhabits and embodies his character that we could lean much more into the plot than we had. We re-conceived the balance of the movie, in crucial sections. The day after Toronto, Denzel and I went back into the cutting room and spent weeks making changes. Not just to the pacing. We reordered scenes, we changed elements, particularly with Colin’s character.

Although the film which was reviewed by critics at TIFF wasn't quite finished in Dan Gilroy's eyes, he doesn't regret debuting the film at the festival, choosing to see it as a "very high end test screening."

We had the time, the resources, and Denzel and I had been collaborating so closely that we said, let’s go do this. Movies are forever, that’s the way Denzel and I look at it. And a screening for 1200 people in Toronto is not going to define for us what the final version of the movie is. What we did here was strengthen and refocus a film we were already really proud of. We also cut a lot, over 12 minutes of the movie. You’re looking at a film where we’ve cut any fat, right down to the muscle. We realized that Denzel’s character was so strong that we could lean more into the plot around him. You’ve never seen him vulnerable like this; it’s a major transformation, physically and emotionally. Watching it with an audience, we realized that beyond his character, there’s a story here that was going to operate better if it was tightened and refocused. That was really the beginning of us getting to change things, including the music cues.

Denzel Washington was quite involved in the editing process as well, and although many directors might object to their actors taking part in that process, Dan Gilroy welcomed Washington's assistance. "Denzel brought so much to the editing room," Gilroy said. "He has directed three and starred in what, over 40 films? He has incredible instincts for pacing, for story, for finding false notes and knowing when a scene is sagging. He is very objective in taking outside opinions like the ones we got in Toronto, and listening to them. He’s unique that way; a lot of actors can only focus on their own character. I would not usually be inclined toward having an actor come in to the cutting room, but every day, I looked forward to Denzel coming in. The two of us worked so closely with my editor brother John to get to this place. Denzel was an invaluable resource on every level." Gilroy added that they've been showing the re-edited film to people who hadn't seen it before and have been getting an incredible response. "Denzel loves it, and his character, evidenced by his coming in and working all these weeks with us to get the film exactly where we wanted it to be," Gilroy said.

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ will hit theaters on November 10, 2017. Be sure to check out a review from our own Chris Bumbray.

Source: Deadline

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