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March 2006
Inside Man : An Interview with Denzel Washington

Inside Man: An Interview with Denzel Washington, continued

by Wilson Morales

Some of those in the African-American community felt that we're only honored for roles that aren't exactly positive--like "Monster's Ball" and "Training Day." Do you think there's any truth to that or is the community just overly sensitive?

DW: I won the first time for "Glory." Is that positive? Well I only won twice. I think the community has a right to feel that way, but I don't know if there is any truth to it. I can't speak for what people think. It's not like we all get together and have a Hollywood meeting. To be honest, I'm not making light of it, but I don't know what people think. I do think that sometimes you're awarded something over here, when you should have got it over there. I don't think "Scent of a Woman" was Al Pacino's greatest movie. But if I had been in his shoes, because it was late, you know he's been nominated eight times and
didn't win it until "Scent of a Woman." I think something can definitely be said for 'they owe you one.' People like the bad guy. I do. I enjoyed "Training Day." It was my favorite part.

Do you think your character was compromised over the $140,000 check?

DW: I don't know. It's just something they threw in this – this cloud hanging over his head. I guess it was more of a device they used in the story that Jodie's character wants to use against him. They kind of trimmed this part of the story out. I kind of forget, did they leave the part in about this being his first big case? This was his first big dance, but they kind of trimmed that away.

Working with Spike several times, did you two develop a sort of shorthand together? Also was there a scene in the movie that was particularly hard to shoot?

DW: Yeah, we just go. It is a shorthand. I like working with Spike. It's familiar territory. I like going to Brooklyn, to the Kaufman? Being able to rehearse and walk around the corner and have the art department and everything there. It's like coming home for me. I was born and raised here.

Was there anything difficult about making the movie?

DW: It was hot downtown. That's a real tight little area and it's noisy with all the construction going on, but not anything physically or emotionally demanding. We started June 29 and worked until the end of July. Got one tie.

Are you still planning on doing "American Gangsters?"

DW: Yeah, it looks like a done deal with Ridley Scott directing and Russell Crowe this fall.

And what about "The Debaters?"

DW: The script just came in. Harvey Weinstein has it and we'll see if it's a go. In that case, we'll start in March. That's about a debating team. Wiley College in 1935, James Farmer (civil rights pioneer) was a 15-year-old freshman on the best debating team in the country. Mel Tolson, the poet was an English teacher. It's an interesting story about a little school. "Debaters" I'm directing. Maybe a little part, like fifth guy from the back.

You had said when you were doing "Man on Fire," Tony Scott had so many cameras around it was hard to know what he was going for in the look?

DW: Yeah, let's just say 'Yes.'

Is this the first movie you've done with Spike, since you directed? Did you watch Spike more closely?

DW: Yeah, definitely. I sat in at rehearsals with his DP, and talking about what camera they wanted to use. I was in New Orleans Wednesday night and just watching what Tony was doing. You know, they have these stop action cameras that they used for "The Matrix." Now they have this new technology like 400 video cameras with film that runs through all the cameras and it give you. It sort of gives you like a trip on acid, though I would never do that.

What did you like about the character? That line about 'You're too smart to be a cop' kind of hit home with me?

DW: Like I said earlier, I do most of my research listening to my driver, who is from Brooklyn. It's just a feeling or vibe. Living in California I just don't get, except raising my family.

Why not come back here?

DW: I'm trying. I'm trying. Talk to my wife. We're almost done. They're getting up there, looking at real estate on Monday.

Of all the roles you played which is the closest to the real Denzel?

DW: There's no one part, but I love to say "Training Day." They all become a part of you. I'd like to say I'm doing something different. I'm just blessed to have had so many great experiences and to have traveled the world. I think going to Africa, the first time, had the biggest impact on me. "Cry Freedom" because of my age, landing in Africa. They opened the door and I thought, "Wow, Africa smells strong."

I'm surprised you said you really don't watch a lot of movies?

DW: One movie that I saw that I like this year was "Good Night, Good Luck." And I called George.

You certainly have a new look in this movie with your short hair?

DW: We were looking for something different and I didn't have much hair playing Brutus. I didn't have time to grow it back.

What CD past or present brings back the fondest memories and why?

DW: A lot of CD's bring back fond memories. The fondest? I don't know. I like a lot of music so there's different memories attached to them.

What was the last one you bought?

DW: Keisha Cole, Thelonious Monk, and Tony Bennett. That's the last three I just picked up.

What one you would pick up without hearing it?

DW: Anything Anita Baker.



INSIDE MAN opens on March 24th. 2006

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