Lime interview - Screen
The Unstoppable Mr Washington
One of the biggest stars in Hollywood was recently in London to talk about his new action-thriller Unstoppable.
Unstoppable sees Denzel Washington taking on a runaway train in a story inspired by true events, it also sees him teaming up once again with Tony Scott. When we spoke to the actor, we started off by asking him why he was working with the British director again.
Denzel Washington: Well he calls me number one and asks me to, so that's one of the reasons. First of all he makes excellent films, I like his films and I like him. He works hard and he's a nice guy although he hasn't called me about Top Gun 2 yet. [Laughs]
How much did you know about the true story?
DW: Nothing. The first time I saw the actual news footage was when Tony showed me it, I had never even heard about it. I think it's inspired by true events. The guy I play for example isn't black. I did spend some time with him though. It was exciting seeing the film put together because I was working on one part of it and then you see the whole thing and realise how intense it was.
We've read quotes from you saying that this was one of the most terrifying sets you've been on; can you tell us a bit about that?
DW: One day Tony said "Denze we want you to get up on top of the train and run across it". I said ok, and then he said "we're going to be going 50mph though..." That's when I thought it was time to get the stuntman in, but I guess they needed shots of me up there. Doing it once was enough though, in fact I did it but they hardly showed my face!
As well as the action movie, there is also a real story about your character who is about to lose his job. Was that an important part of the script for you?
DW: Absolutely. It was once we got down there to Ohio and West Virginia, the areas we call the 'Rust Belt', we saw places with 70 per cent unemployment. That's when it hit home; we had a casting call for just 50 extras and 2000 showed up. You feel the responsibility in representing these folk, to at least tell their story.
Will you keep doing action films?
DW: You know I don't do films by category, if it's a script I like I'll do it. I just did a play on Broadway called Fences so right now it's a healthy mix as I'm looking at a couple of things to direct as well. Maybe the focus will shift soon to more film making but I like how it's going now. I know I won't be running around on trains for much longer though.
In the films you and Tony make together you tend to be cast as the good guy and a hard worker. Do you ever want to play the villain?
Well in Crimson Tide I wasn't the typical man on the street and I did win the Oscar for playing a bad guy. Of course after Training Day, every script I got was the evil cop, the evil bottlemaker the evil everything. That's the way Hollywood is.
In this film, your character has a complex relationship with his grown daughters. Do you empathise with that?
DW: In the film it sets up the whole thing about telling your significant family members that you care about them. You know my son is a professional football player and so I'm living the dream through him, but my youngest daughter wants to be an actress. She's good, and I said I want to see your audition pieces. Unfortunately for me, she was excellent. My other daughter is the brains, so she's just graduated from Yale and is going to Law School. If I wasn't an actor I think I would have been working with kids as I used to be a youth worker.