For the record, Denzel Washington is quite intimidating. He doesn't suffer fools gladly, nor should he. Reporters asking for a few minutes of his time should remember a few things:
1.) You're well advised to see his film first, 2.) Don't expect any more than a direct answer to a direct question and, perhaps most importantly 3.) Don't think Washington is going to get all actor-y on you with some existential bullshit. He's at the top of his game. He knows it. You know it. Next question.
"It's a testament that we don't know a lot about my character. I'm not really trying to reveal my character in the film. I just don't look at my performance that way," Washington said. "It's more about his actions."
In that compact statement you get some insight into the two-time Oscar winner's work. Think for a moment about his performances in Flight, Malcolm X, Glory and Training Day. In each instance, Washington allowed the audience to unwind his character's motivations.
"Acting is acting. The truth is the truth," said Washington. "The universal stems from the specific."
And Washington is spot-on specific with Robert McCall, a past-his-prime mystery man in The Equalizer, loosely based on the 1980s television show. McCall is an earnest laborer who works at a home-improvement megastore, eking out a simple existence by day, but when night falls, McCall can't sleep. We never learn what haunts him, but McCall's special skills emerge in the dead of night when bad things happen to good people.
"I read the script... fast. It was a very good, quick read and I called Antoine [Fuqua] and said, 'Hello. This is Robert McCall,'" Washington said, flashing that famous smile. "The smartest thing I did was to call Antoine. He's an excellent filmmaker."
For Antoine Fuqua, who directed Washington to a Best Actor Oscar in Training Day, it didn't take long to remember what it was like to work with the actor.
"[Training Day] was 13 years ago," Fuqua told BW. "On our first day of shooting The Equalizer, I was quickly reminded of how amazing it is to just watch Denzel."
The Equalizer is highly satisfying, and even though Washington is one of the highest grossing film stars never to have made a sequel, an action movie this good hasn't been worth a full franchise since the original Die Hard. I would love to see Washington repeat this character in a series of sequels.