Training Day director felt “empowered” by Denzel Washington

Antoine Fuqua has opened up about the first time he worked with his long-time collaborator and friend Denzel Washington on Training Day

Training Day Denzel Washington

Antoine Fuqua has opened up about the first time he worked with his long-time collaborator Denzel Washington. The pair first worked together on the thriller movie Training Day and have had a fruitful partnership ever since, working on films like the Western The Magnificent Seven and The Equalizer action movie trilogy.

Fuqua and Washington weren’t thrown together by a visionary studio executive or the winds of fate. They met because Washington’s wife thought they’d get on. “When I met with Denzel for Training Day, it was Denzel’s wife, Pauletta, who put us together,” Fuqua told The Hollywood Reporter. “She saw me in Rolling Stone for Propaganda, or she saw Replacement Killers, and, for whatever reason, she just thought we would click.”

“Only Pauletta could tell you why, but we did. He’s one of the greatest actors in the world,” he continued. “He’s one of the greatest actors in the world. He was highly intelligent but raw. It goes back to when I watched gangster movies with my grandmother. There were certain characters that just had this rawness about them. I met Denzel, and he had that feeling about him. I was excited to put the camera on him.”

Fuqua then broke down the first day on set, sharing his nervousness about working with the star. “I remember covering Denzel, and I got everything I wanted as a director,” he said. “I felt good about it. But I’m this young guy and a little nervous. I don’t want to screw this up.”

Thankfully he needn’t have worried; Washington had full faith in his director. So when Fuqua asked if Washington wanted to review the shots, the A-lister simply said, “Man, you’re flying this plane. Call me when you’re ready.”

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“I looked at Ethan, and he gave me a look like, ‘Yep,’ and he walked away,” Fuqua continued. “It was a confirmation that they trusted me. It empowered me to really go for it.”

If you’re a fan of Fuqua’s work, check out our list of the best spy movies, or we have a guide to his and Washington’s next feature, The Equalizer 3.