No Equal as an Actor: Denzel Washington is Back in “THE EQUALIZER 2”
With Columbia Pictures’ gritty action-thriller The Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington returns to one of his signature roles in the first sequel of his career.
If you have a problem and nowhere else to turn, Robert McCall (Washington) will help – he is The Equalizer. McCall has been aiding the beaten, exploited, and oppressed by serving an unflinching justice. But when McCall’s dangerous past cuts especially close to home, he will need all of his skills to settle the score. This time, he must come face to face with highly trained assassins who will stop at nothing to destroy him.
“I think people enjoy the idea, the myth, that a guy like Robert McCall exists. McCall is a kind of dark angel – the angel we all wish would come down and serve justice to people who deserve it,” says director Antoine Fuqua. “He’s found his purpose, becoming a force for justice. Until now, that has been for strangers. But when someone close to McCall is killed, he seeks vengeance for his friend – and for himself.”
For Washington, the appeal of McCall is simple: “He’s hiding in plain sight, an everyman,” says the two-time Oscar®-winning actor. This time around, he’s moved on; instead of selling you home improvement goods, he’s your Lyft driver – but the avenging angel who has fought for justice for strangers finds himself fighting a more personal battle than ever before. “When we first see McCall, he’s trying to help other people who can’t help themselves, but it becomes very personal.”
The remarkable thing about The Equalizer 2 is the 2: it is the first sequel of Denzel Washington’s career. “I’ve been in this business for forty years and I’ve never done anything a second time,” he says. “The excitement for me comes when I do something new. When it came to this screenplay, the new territory was the relationship with Susan, Melissa Leo’s character, and the relationship with the young boy, Miles, played by Ashton Sanders. This film is more of a personal journey for McCall because it is about what happens to people that he’s allowed into his life. He was a man who wasn’t going to allow anyone in his life, and now, when he opens up to a couple people, it’s not good.”
“With Denzel Washington, there’s no single greatest strength – he brings everything as an actor,” adds Fuqua. The Equalizer 2 is the fourth time that Washington and Fuqua are working together. Their other outings – Training Day, The Equalizer, and The Magnificent Seven – were critically acclaimed and box office successes, with Training Day earning Washington the Oscar® for Best Actor. “I’m always fascinated when I’m watching Denzel do his work. He just constantly ups himself, he’s always looking to be better. You’d think someone like him would relax a little bit – he’s Denzel Washington! But he doesn’t behave like that. Denzel will be the first person to tell you: ‘I’m not a movie star; I’m an actor.’ He challenges me; he’s inspiring.”
“But Robert McCall is also very similar to Denzel as a person,” Fuqua continues. “Denzel wouldn’t want me to talk about it, because he doesn’t want to take credit for it, but he does a lot for people. He taught me something he learned from Nelson Mandela: a shepherd leads from behind – not from the front. He takes that idea and quietly helps people along the way. I think that was important to him to express in Robert McCall.”