Though it may be a few years before we see another installment, The Equalizer, collaboration between director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and Denzel Washington, looks to be a story that will continue to unfold.
But where will it go next? Equalizer 2 saw its protagonist Robert McCall, played by Washington, on a rescue mission in Turkey. Could perhaps Saudi Arabia or the UAE be next?
“You should come out to Dubai or Saudi Arabia for Equalizer 3,” I suggest to Fuqua.
“I would love to. Actually that’s a really good idea. I’ll talk to you about that,” Fuqua says enthusiastically.
Denzel is also on board—citing his wife’s love for Dubai.
“Sure! My wife went to Dubai when they opened the One and Only. She knows a lot of people in high places,” he says.
The Washington family is at a new high point this August. In Middle Eastern cinemas, at the same time that Equalizer 2 will be opening, Denzel’s son John David Washington is starring in another major film, Spike Lee’s much-heralded BlacKkKlansman.
“It’s going to be amazing. I’m living it as I’m here,” Denzel tells me, his face lighting up, in London the day after BlacKkKlansman’s premiere in the US. “We’re eight hours ahead of LA. My wife is really living it. I’ll get the update when I go back to my room, but he’s doing the talk shows last night, he’s over here in a week or so, and we’re proud of all our children.”
Denzel doesn’t just support the young actors in his family, he’s also one to keep an eye out for emerging talent whom he can take under his wing.
Around the time Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture, Washington met its star, Ashton Sanders, on a red carpet, immediately seeing something special in him. The next day, he picked up the phone to call Antoine Fuqua—there was a part in Equalizer 2 that Denzel thought should be his.
“Denzel called me and said, how are you doing with the guys? I looked at some of the people to just open it up, and he said, you really need to sit down with Ashton. He met him on the carpet one day, and Ashton was just over the moon with meeting Denzel. Denzel being Denzel, said, ‘alright kid, see you on the set!’ Low and behold, it’s on my set,” says Fuqua.
Fuqua did his homework, finding the clip, and seeing in Sanders, and in the chemistry between him and Washington, exactly what Equalizer 2 needed.
“When I watched them on YouTube later on the carpet, you could see that there was something there. He looked at him a certain way, like a father-son thing. That’s what the movie called for—that relationship. Somebody that was drawn to this man, and his journey for help that he just doesn’t know how to ask for. That same feeling that I saw on the carpet is in the movie—that energy. It’s hard to find that. You want a young man that you still like. He’s a young; man. A lot of young men on the street get dark, and et that dead look in their eyes where they’re already kind of gone, you look at them and say they’re either going to kill somebody or kill themselves—they’re gone,” says Fuqua.
“Ashton has that man-child thing where he’s got a man’s voice, skinny as a rail but when you look into his face, he’s still got a baby face, he still has his innocence. The camera needed that when he’s in that room with these bad guys. You can see that he doesn’t fit in. he still has innocence, and that’s what McCall sees. He has innocence, hope, a little bit of light, so finding that character was really important. The right age—the right everything.”
Casting Sanders reminded Fuqua of one of Denzel’s best pairings—in he and Fuqua’s first collaboration.
“The same thing with Ethan Hawke in Training Day—finding the character with the right thing. And can act. Being next to Denzel is not easy,” says Fuqua.