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Training Day director had one big worry over Washington’s famous adlib

Antoine Fuqua, director of The Equalizer movies, only had one concern during Denzel Washington's barnstorming speech towards the end of Training Day.

Denzel Washington in Training Day

After years of playing everymen with heroic qualities, Denzel Washington finally won his first Lead Actor Oscar for a rare villainous role – as a corrupt detective in Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day. Fuqua has reteamed with Denzel Washington a further four times – on Western remake The Magnificent Seven and three Equalizer movies.

There are many iconic aspects of Training Day, such as the 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo that Washington drives around South Central LA in, dragging around the younger and more idealistic Ethan Hawke. Another memorable moment from the movie is when Washington’s Alonzo Harris finds himself surrounded and cornered by a hostile neighborhood towards the end of the movie.

Harris shouts at them; “I’m the man up in this piece! Who the fuck do you think you’re fucking with?! I’m the po-lice, I run shit here, you just live here! Walk away, because I’m gonna burn this motherfucker down. King Kong ain’t got shit on me!” Washington famously adlibbed the King Kong line, and it became the most quoted line from the thriller movie.

For director Antoine Fuqua, he knew that he only had one shot at capturing Washington’s fire during that moment, because if he tried to recreate it for a second take, it wouldn’t be the same. He told the ReelBlend podcast, via CinemaBlend; “I was so in that moment with [Denzel Washington], I was watching him, and I just saw him go into a different place.”

“And so at the end of it, it was just like, ‘Is it in focus? Did we get that?’ Because I knew it wasn’t happening again. Because he was in the moment. That’s a one-take thing, there’s no other take. In fact, it’s a little buzz on that anamorphic lens, it’s a little soft. But I was just like that’s it. … I was like, ‘You sure?’ Because that’s on film? It wasn’t digital back then. So I didn’t get to see it until I saw the rushes.”

This scene is just one of many, many examples of why Washington is one of the best actors of all time – because you can see Harris’ fear underneath all the bravado. He’s panicking and spiraling, and realizes that he’s reaching the end of the road.

For more evidence of the actor’s brilliance, check out our guide to the best Denzel Washington movies. Also, see what we have on our list of the best 2000s movies.