NEW YORK – Although he is 62 years old and was nominated seven times for the Oscar, Denzel Washington still tries to improve.
In "Roman J. Israel, Esq.", By Dan Gilroy, Washington has challenged itself with one of its most complicated and singular roles. The main character, played by Washington, is a veteran activist lawyer. After decades pbaded as a brilliant legal mind behind the scenes, the death of his most famous partner brings Israel to light.
For an actor whose most powerful performances ("Malcolm X", "Glory") "Training Day") have been monuments of power and strength, Israel is a rarity: a dejected, wrinkled, antisocial loner that Gilroy and Washington say who has Asperger syndrome, a type of autism in which the patient has difficulties with social interaction and often shows signs of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.
But Israel is also part of many of Washington's most recent roles (the tragic Troy Maxson in "Fences," the alcoholic pilot of "Flight") that has stretched the actor in new directions.
"I'm looking at the man in the mirror," Washington said. "That's what I'm challenging."
Washington met for an interview in downtown Manhattan earlier this week during the one-day recess after filming the sequel to suspense "The Equalizer 2" in Boston. His affection for Israel was obvious. It's the only movie, says Washington, in which he finds himself begging his character to make better choices.
But the moves made by Washington, possibly the biggest movie star on the planet, also remain fascinating.
AP: He has compared Roman with "Cornel West on the spectrum".
Washington: Cornel [the political and social activist] is bright and different. I do not know if he is on the spectrum, but who cares. He is simply brilliant and articulate and down for the cause, and there is much of that in Roman.
AP: Where did Roman's walk come from?
Washington: I researched a lot about the spectrum. In some people, there was talk of a lack of coordination, in some people, not in all. I was attracted to that. It was something that could physicalise. I forgot how I got there, but I decided to wear shoes a couple of sizes too big. All changed. He changed the way he walked, just trying to keep them.
AP: Do you often start with something like that?
Washington: I like to get the shoes sooner rather than later. Roll the ball
AP: He had an approach with Dan Gilroy's brother, Tony, whose "Michael Clayton" pbaded away.
Washington: Yes, he made a mistake there! However, it worked well for Tony. And for George [Clooney].
AP: Did you feel the sensation of starting a new chapter after "Hurdles"? You spent years playing that on Broadway and directing the film adaptation.
Washington: More and more, I will only do what I want to do, professionally. So I do not know what I'm going to do next. As for the movie, I do not. I do it on stage. (Washington will lead a revival of "The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O & # 39; Neill on Broadway). And that's fine Take my time. The time that I have left and the opportunities that I have left, I understand that this is finite. How can I be the best I can be? And what interests me? Where is the new territory?
AP: Troy from "Vallas" and Israel share a disconnect with younger generations. Have you thought about that?
Washington: It's a fact. Either in your mind or not. It may be in my mind, but I do not remember! There are 365 days in a year, so 10 years is approximately 3600 days. Twenty years is approximately 7200 days. I'm 62 years old, so 20 years, 7200 days, it's not a long time, if you get 7200. You do not know how many you're going to get. Just try to do the best you can with what you have and enjoy it.
AP: This year marks the 25th anniversary of "Malcolm X". Like him, you are the son of a preacher. Do you feel that you have followed your father's footsteps?
Washington: For a while, he sent me in another direction. That can be a pattern for the preacher's son. I had to go to church, so it was not fun. I did not know anything different. Being the son of a minister, having grown up in the church and learned the cadence, it was probably easier to interpret that part. I had an idea of the different rhythms.
AP: I suspect it would be good in the pulpit.
Washington: Well, it's not based on performance if it means what you say. And it would be better to say what you say. My father did it He believed it with every fiber of his being. He was a man of God and we share that. For him, the pulpit was where he was. My father was a minister and my mother owned a beauty salon. So that seems to be a perfect breeding ground for an actor. That covers a lot!
AP: Many expected you to win your third Oscar in February, not Casey Affleck. Are you surprised?
Washington: I've been here for a long time. I have been for a while It does not mean that you have no feelings or that you are not hurt or that you are not happy. But I've seen it all, I think. No, I did not, not how the show ended! I had not seen it before!
AP: Is there a movie you've seen at an early age that changed your life?
Washington: "Super Fly"! And "Shaft." When I was 14, 15 years old, "Shaft" especially. Here was a man, he did not know who he was, but he walked and had his own musical theme. He had a leather jacket. He seemed to have control and was hitting the man. I remember seeing those movies and you were choosing who you wanted to be: Super Fly or Shaft. I wanted to be Shaft. – (AP)