INT: Denzel Washington
think Denzel Washington takes charge in movies? Watch him handle a
room full of rowdy journalists. In the basement of the Century Plaza
Hyatt hotel, we awaited the entrance of the worldís sexiest Oscar
winner. The normally serious actor entered with an air of class and
good spirit. Wearing a sharp, black suit,
still a sex symbol at 52. How do you get fit to remain a sex symbol
for all ages?
fit is a life style. Being a sex symbol for all ages, I don't know
anything about that. But turning 50 made me realize, as I have said
before, that this is not the dress rehearsal. So I was already sort
of in that mind set before that, but it really hit home to enjoy
every day, to try and lead and live a good life, a healthy life, and
keep things simple. The sex symbol and all that stuff, you guys
write about that. I don't think about that. I don't even know what
about your chemistry with Paula Patton?
Isnít that what makes the movie work?
You know, Tony Scott said, ďI've got this girl. You don't know her. She hasn't done anything, but she's right for the part.Ē I read with her, and I was not nervous, but just like, ďWell, she hasn't done anything.Ē But she's a wonderful person. A lot of energy! But she's a lovely girl, sheís a sweetheart, and he was right. She has this quality that you want to care about. You want to take care of her. So what was the question? The chemistry.
you know thatíll be there when you meet her?
you don't. I mean, you know if you like the person. You don't know
how it's all going to work together. No, to answer your question,
you don't know. You know, when it really hit home was, and we didn't
get to shoot it until the last month when we came back to L.A.,
which was when we shot all the laboratory stuff. So the love story
really evolves or develops with me looking at her on screen, seeing
her in her private life. So we actually shot all the scenes when I'm
actually with her in New Orleans, and
then I got to see why Iím supposed to be feeling the way I
feel in the scenes we shot in New Orleans when we were in L.A. but
the camera sure likes her, that's for sure.
it revitalize your craft to work with a fresh faced newcomer?
As you know in any profession, it can get to be one junket too many
sometimes, and then some young girl, fresher journalist, comes
along, so excited, and you're probably pissed off at them. No, it is
refreshing and it is a reminder of what a privilege it is to be in
this industry and to be able to do what you like and to be
compensated in an amazing and ridiculous way for doing something
that you want to do. And in those days where you just don't feel
like coming out of the trailer and then you meet this young person,
it's all fresh and new. It reminds you. It takes you back. It's like
hey, be thankful for what you got.
you ever had a dťjŗ vu?
had one today. I'm going to get the mail out of the mailbox, and I'm
walking around and I'm out on the street by my front gate, and I've
got a feeling somebody's going to drive by, so I just stood out
there, and a white truck comes by and it stops, and it backs up, and
it's Eddie Murphy. And I just had a feeling somebody was [coming],
I'll just stand here another second. And it wasn't 10 seconds he
drove by and gave me the whole scoop on Dreamgirls. He said the girl
is stealing the movie. They said she stops the movie, and they
applaud, as was the case for those of you, like myself, who saw
Jennifer Holiday. It was an amazing moment in the theatre.
worked with both Scott brothers. Compare and contrast.
Yeah. Third time with Tony, third time with Jerry as well. Needless to say, we've had tremendous success. I like working with Tony. I hope to do more movies with him. I must be the first person in the business to work with Tony Scott and Ridley Scott in the same year. Obviously Tony and Jerry know what they're doing. When they call me and say, hey we've got this idea and this is what we want to do, then I listen.
comparing the Scott brothers?
don't know. Tony likes to draw. He's an artist, so he draws a lot of
storyboards and all that stuff. Maybe Ridley does too but I don't
see them. It feels like he's more seeing what happens on the moment
and adjusting, but I don't know what type of preparation [he does].
I know Tony more because I've done three films with him. As it will
all turn out, we'll see. Obviously Ridley knows what he's doing.
He's made some good pictures. Itís good working with him.
you still have the pressure or the same excitement doing a movie?
thatís what I was saying earlier about working with Paula, it
reminded me. Pressure, I donít know if Iíve ever felt pressure,
I felt pressure when I played Malcolm X.
because of death threats. Thatís real pressure, Cry Freedom as
well, pressure from people saying they wanted to kill you. I guess
thereís some pressure, the economic, the amount of money youíre
spending on a film. But thereís relief I guess when you look at a
film, Monday I sat down with my guys and we watched Dťjŗ Vu, and I
was like, ďWhoa, thatís a good picture.Ē I enjoyed it. I think
that affects the decisions I make about who I work with. Iíve had
great success with Tony, so when Tony calls Iím like, hey, I like
working with Tony, he makes good pictures. Weíve had great success
does the sexiest man alive have to do to train to be an ATF agent
for a movie?
training. That could be like a gym, you could start sexy gyms or
something like that, right? You cannot eat in New Orleans, thatís
one thing. Man, thereís no such thing as health food. They do have
a good Whole Foods there though. But I remember going to one place
and I said, ďCan you make me a clean piece of fish,Ē and he
said, ďOh, weíre going to wash the fish for you.Ē As they say,
just live better, just live better. You know, just watching what you
eat and going to the gym.
about actual ATF training?
Again, Tony like myself likes research. He always tracks down real guys. We did it with Man on Fire, we did it with Crimson Tide and we did it with Dťjŗ Vu. Jerry was an ATF guy who was instrumental in figuring out the Oklahoma City bombing, we used his methods and applied it directly to this film. They found small pieces of plastic in the destruction of the Federal building, they identified it, tracked it, found out it came from barrels, found out where they were made, found out where they were purchased and worked their way back, they already had McVeigh at that time, but they were able to connect him to those things. We took that directly and applied it to our story. When he would get very tired working twenty, thirty, hours at a time, he said, ďIf you brush your teeth itís like getting an hourís sleep.Ē I put that in the movie, I brushed my teeth in the scene, so I like as Tony likes, finding real people.
of biopics, thereís a rising feeling about a movie about the late,
great Marvin Gaye. Can you see yourself involved with that?
been around a long time, they talked to me about it for a long time.
Iím too old now I think. I just donít see it. Iíd like to see
it made, I donít know if I want to do it. Thatís a tricky one,
you know, Marvin is special to a lot of people.
Could you play his father?
thanks a lot man. Yeah, Iíll be the sexy father, thatís it.
Iíll be the sexy father. No, I mean, but I donít know, itís
been around, I donít know whatís happening to be honest with
you a strongly serious person?
a clown in there, thereís a clown in me thatís waiting to get
out. Do I feel as serious as that character do you mean?
an individual do you feel serious?
what you see. Most people have said to me, ďWhy donít you do
more comedies? Youíre real funny, people donít see that side of
you.Ē I think itís eking out in films more and more, especially
in Inside Man, I improvised a lot, and there were some funny lines
that came out that werenít written, like, ďI bet you can get a
cab though,Ē or something like that. I just said that, the guy
kept saying, ďI canít do this, I canít do that.Ē I said,
ďI bet you can get a cab though,Ē and people fell out when we
were shootiní it, so I was like, ďOh, okay.Ē
Are you directing any time soon?
In March, yeah, a film called The Debaters about a school in 1935. Wiley College had four hundred students, and they beat everybody in the country in debating, they were just a great little school in a nowhere little town in Texas, they had a teacher and a good debating coach by the name of Mel Tolson, whoís considered one of the great African American poets of our time. They had a young 14 year-old freshman on the team by the name of James Farmer who went on to start the Congress on Racial Equality and was instrumental in the civil rights movement, as instrumental as anyone else. Itís an interesting story about a 14 year-old who falls in love with a 20 year old girl who doesnít fall in love with him, and about a little team that goes up against the big giant in the country.
do you like directing?
like the collaboration, I like seeing people do well. Iím loving
seeing where Derek Luke is right now, and having something to do
with that. I like seeing people do well, so I really, God willing, I
plan to direct the rest of my days.
you star in the movie as well?
talked about Paula. What was it like working with Jim Caviezel?
Heís intense, he is intense. Heís obviously very good and I was kind of surprised like, whoa okay, heís investing in the dark side. He was willing to go the whole way, heís a very spiritual man and a very intense individual, and very good. And itís that same intensity that can be applied to the good side of things orÖ his character thinks heís right, you know, even for a spiritual or religious reasons heís a zealot, heís a nut. The character, the character.
there an opportunity for humor in American Gangster?
That wacky dope dealer. That nutty dope dealer. I donít know, I donít know, weíll see.
the craziest thing youíve done for love?
donít know. I donít know, the craziest thing? I donít know,
thatís a good question but I donít have an answer. You got me,
you stumped me. Stumped the sexy man.