SAN SEBASTIAN – At Spain’s 62nd San Sebastian to accept a career-achievement Donostia Award and present, alongside Antoine Fuqua, Sony Pictures’ fest opener, “The Equalizer,” Denzel Washington denied any idea of playing President Barack Obama.
“Barack Obama is a story that hasn’t finished yet. It’s not something I’m thinking about, and he’s busy. said Washinton, dressed casually in a dark grey jacket and looking very young for his 59 years.
“I’ve played Biko, Malcolm X, I can’t play everybody,” he added, when asked if he’d like to limn Martin Luther King.
But Washington did set something of a roadmap of future plans. He will not topline “Shovel Ready,” a Warner Bros. adaptation of a debut novel by journalist Adam Sterbergh., he said Friday at a San Sebastian press conference.
It’s too early to call, he argued when asked by Variety, if he would star in “The Equalizer” sequel. Sony Pictures and Escape Artists are reportedly working on the project. Screenplay is by Richard Wenk, who penned the first Fuqua/Washington “The Equalizer.”
“People will decide if I do a ‘The Equalizer’ sequel, not me,” Washington said. “If it’s a good script, it’s something I’ll consider, but I’m not considering it right now, because this [first] one hasn’t come out yet,” he added.
But Washington and Fuqua are saddling up –literally, in the actor’scase – for a Western, a remake set up at MGM of “The Magnificent Seven.” Washington will be taking riding classes from next week, he said. He was quick to point out to Variety, however, that “The Magnificent Seven” in inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” and the film Fuqua and he would be channeling more is the Japanese original. ”The Magnificent Seven” is a go project, said Fuqua, who is reportedly attached to “Southpaw” at The Weinstein Company.” “Seven Samurai” is one of his favorite movies of all time, Fuqua told the Spanish press.
With such a Hollywood heavyweight as Denzel Washington on board, and Fuqua directing, MGM should have no trouble in completing the cast for “The Magnificent Seven.” It would mark the third teaming of Washington and Fuqua after their “Training Day,” which earned the U.S. actor his second Academy Award after a supporting actor nod for Edward Zwick’s “Glory” and his first best actor Oscar.
Sony Pictures’ big-screen redo of the ‘80s hit TV show, with Washington playing McCall, a hero who helps the hopelessly helpless, “The Equalizer” had its European premiere at San Sebastian, where it was respected by most, rather than drawing rapturous applause.
Undeniable, however, is the ability of Fuqua and Washington to work action scenes. The first, after the film’s first half hour build, where Washington demonstrates that the corkscrew is a multi-use appliance, which if applied to the lower jaw of a Russian mobster could emerge in his mouth, sparked applause in the audience at San Sebastian press screening.
What the Donostia Award/”The Equalizer” demonstrated very well is the remarkable pulling power and range of Washington, even at a press conference, an actor who moves from straight seriousness to gentle mockery, clowning, confessions, humility and sincerity, all in the space of a few seconds.
Has he taken up Sidney Poitier’s mantle? “There is only one Sidney Poitier, and I’m glad to say he’s a friend of mine,” Washington retorted.
Does he thing Spanish cinema has improved of late? “I’ll let Antoine answer. He knows more about movies than I do. But I have a question: what happened to the Spanish basketball team?
Packing a few phrases of Spanish – “Lo siento mucho” – always a winner with Spain’s press, Washington soon had San Sebastian press in his pocket.
Among confessions: Theater. “My children are older now so now I’ve gone back to doing theater, which was my first love. It’s where I was trained and where I started my career. So I’ve played Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, I just finished a play this summer, ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ I’ve also directed two films and directed half a dozen. So I’m moving around more, directing, acting, producing deals, etc. So I’m trying to do a variety of things.”
Washington added he was “working to produce but not looking to act in television,” saying he is currently developing a play-based TV series, with a broadcaster, though it was too early to go into details. The theater also had a larger number of good roles than cinema, he added.