"hey, I think you're on fire"
Matt Adcock Meets Denzel Washington (2004)
Dazed and impressed having just witnessed a press screening of Man On Fire, I get to meet Denzel Washington at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane.
“Great film, possibly your best performance to date?” I start with (always one to try and play it cool when meeting cinematic superstars like Mr Washington).
“Thanks,” he replies with a generous smile and I immediately feel like this interview is going to be fun and good-natured. I ask Denzel about the fact that he doesn’t like to over expose himself as a ‘celebrity’ - mostly letting his powerful (Oscar winning) performances do the talking…
“I don’t expose myself, it’s true!” He laughs. And although he has two new films opening over here in the next few weeks – firstly the dark revenge thriller ‘Man On Fire’ and then brainwashing conspiracy ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ he is quietly confident that they will do OK – obviously an interview with the Herald & Post never hurts though…
Man On Fire is very violent; I ask him if he has any issues with violent films?
“When you sit and you watch them, you know how much it's manipulation, you don't really see anything. There's the suspension of belief. So, it's never as violent to me, because I know how it was put together.
“There's nothing in my humble opinion in Man on Fire that says: 'Go out and do this, and you'll be cool like Denzel.' Other than that saying: What would you do if it was your child?”
He’s got a point there, I think any parent will relate to his desire to avenge the kidnap and murder of an innocent like that of the little girl Pita in the film.
I ask him if Dakota Fanning who plays Pita was fun to work with as they seem to have excellent on screen chemistry?
“I was really impressed with Dakota,” he replies, “not only her acting skills but she also shows great maturity. She says she’s only 10 but I think she’s at least 40! Her parents have done a great job with her.” He goes on to say that he even found it hard at the start of the film to be frosty with her because she was just so friendly.
What about working with director Tony Scott?
“Man, he’s so passionate about his films, he has so many ideas that it’s a great experience. He was concerned that I wouldn’t be right for the part because it’s quite a ‘dark’ character but I think my role in Training Day convinced him that ‘I can do dark’.”
And Christopher Walken – playing a good guy?
“It was an honour to share the screen with Chris, it’s not script work with him it’s improvisation – I don’t think we said anything from the script in our scenes! But it always helps you to raise your game when working with great actors like that.”
Denzel certainly loves his job and when I ask him what’s next for him he says, “maybe a comedy, I am tempted by the thought.”
That and “spending more time behind the camera.”
For now though I’d urge you go and see him in Man On Fire because Denzel’s performance certainly lives up to the title and is in my view one of the best you’ll see!
Other interviews by Matt: