Fuqua guns for western feel in film

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Director Antoine Fuqua says his latest film, the contemporary action thriller The Equalizer, is his attempt at a western.

The 48-year-old film-maker, who grew up a huge fan of the genre, adds: "I loved seeing Henry Fonda in Once Upon A Time In The West and I loved The Wild Bunch and the films of Sergio Leone.

"This movie is my western. The character in The Equalizer is Shane."

The titular character in The Equalizer is brought to life by two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington.

The film is inspired by a 1980s TV show and was written for the big screen specifically for Washington, who then brought the project to Fuqua. "I like working with directors I trust," says the actor.

The Equalizer is their second collaboration - Fuqua directed Washington to his Best Actor Academy Award win with 2001's Los Angeles Police Department movie Training Day - and it is seething with violent acts.

How did that sit with Washington, a devout Christian?

"We didn't set out to be grotesque," says Fuqua, who also directed King Arthur (2004) and Olympus Has Fallen (2013). "It was all part of the narrative. And if you look at Training Day, that ending was really from Denzel."

Washington's character in Training Day was a corrupt cop who gets his just desserts.

"Denzel said the guy is bad and he has to go. In The Equalizer, the character tries not to do violence, but his enemies are evil and they've got to get their comeuppance."

Fuqua says Washington brought extra depth to what was on the page in The Equalizer screenplay.

"There is an apology, the showing of remorse, and Denzel did that on the day," he says. "You can see the angst in the character.

"That's why the movie moves slowly after an initial burst of violence. This guy is trying to live a quiet life, not a violent life."

There will be blood in the duo's next film together - they are teaming up for a third collaboration next year when they shoot a remake of the beloved 1960 western, The Magnificent Seven. Washington will take the Yul Brynner role, originally earmarked for Tom Cruise.

"I'm very excited by The Magnificent Seven," Fuqua says. "It's like going back to being a little kid and playing with my cowboys and Indians in the sandbox. I watched all those movies and studied them, and I love Akira Kurosawa."

The original version of The Magnificent Seven was based on Japanese director Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954).

Will Fuqua's film be more like The Magnificent Seven or the Japanese classic?

"I don't know what to do yet," he says, "but the first thing is Denzel. I remember talking to the producers and saying if we're going to remake a beloved classic, we have to make it an event and we should have Denzel. A hush went across the room.

"I said we should have a black cowboy. Everyone got excited and Denzel loved the idea. That's the start.

"It's like what we did with Training Day. I got a cop movie and started to twist it and put an edge on it. That's what we'll do with The Magnificent Seven."

 
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