Denzel Washington is Unequaled in ‘The Equalizer’

In this month’s Columbia Pictures movie reboot of The Equalizer, Denzel Washington fakes his own death then fights his way through bad guys as popular 1980s television character Robert McCall.

In the film, which takes only the title and the hero’s name from the original, McCall is a solitary special operations veteran working a low profile job at a home improvement store. When his friend, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, is attacked and nearly killed, McCall sheds his humble mantle and goes to war. Since the perpetrators turn out to be members of the Russian mob, the battle is long and hard before matters become “equalized.”

The path that brought Denzel to The Equalizer is complicated in typical Hollywood fashion. In 2010 Russell Crowe attempted to resuscitate the former TV show, with himself in the role of McCall, and bring it to the big screen under the direction of Paul Haggis. In December 2011, Sony Pictures announced that it would finance the project with Denzel in the leading role. In turn, Denzel brought in director Antoine Fuqua, with whom he collaborated on his Oscar-winning performance in Training Day.

Washington admits that he never watched any of the episodes of the 1980s Equalizer series, and although a sequel has already been planned as well as a possible franchise, he still isn’t comfortable with being part of that routine.

“You don’t have a sequel without a good film so there’s no point in thinking about sequels. I’m just trying to be part of making the best film that I can. I mean, you don’t look at Training Day and go, ‘I’m going to do Training DayII.’ I don’t look at it that way. I never have.”

In this film, the Robert McCall character suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which attracted Denzel Washington.

“He’s just not the action guy,” Denzel explains. “He’s troubled, flawed and we don’t finish his story. It’s not like suddenly at the end he’s fine. We started talking about it [OCD] and adding things. We obviously did a lot of research about it. I was surprised to find it’s just obsessive behavior. It could be anything. In fact, I read a book [called] I Never Wash My Hands so it’s not necessarily about someone who always washes their hands fifty times.”

Denzel Washington certainly is not obsessive about his extraordinary career, which has spanned more than three decades since he broke onto the scene as Dr. Phillip Chandler in the long-running NBC series, St. Elsewhere. In addition to his two Academy Awards for Glory and Training Day, Washington has garnered two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award—heady stuff for the son of a preacher man.

The Equalizer will be released in theaters on September 26th.