Film interview: Retirement not an option for action man Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington.
Denzel Washington.
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Synonymous with playing unruffled men, who boast the sort of cool exterior you require during a crisis, Denzel Washington appears to be a man in control.

“It’s a facade,” he says, laughing. “No, I’m happy with myself, I’m at peace with myself,” adds the actor, looking in great shape in dark trousers and a grey jumper.

Incredibly, the New York native turns 60 this December, but a mammoth party’s unlikely to be in the pipeline.

“My birthday comes three days after Christmas, so it was never a big deal in my house. It was like, ‘Here’s a cake, see you later’. Everybody’s tired and broke, so it never was a big deal, and it’s not that big a deal to me now.”

You do sense that age is but a number for the double Oscar winner, and retirement isn’t something he sits around contemplating.

“I think it’s sad when you hear about people who say, ‘I’m going to retire and do nothing’, and then they die two years later. You need to stay active and have a passion for living. Don’t put me out to pasture!

“Besides, actors don’t have to retire. Look at someone like Clint Eastwood in his 80s, Betty White’s in her 90s. I don’t know if I want to go that long, but we’ll see,” he adds.

Washington, who’s starred in the likes of Malcolm X, Man On Fire, American Gangster and Deja Vu, looks in his prime in his latest movie, The Equalizer.

It’s a violent, action-packed movie that takes its title from the Eighties TV series, and shares its central premise too – a mysterious man called Robert McCall (Washington), who uses his highly trained skills to ‘equalise’ the odds when they’re stacked against the helpless.

“Robert’s done a lot of bad things in the past, and he’s trying to do better,” explains the actor. “He didn’t like himself, but he never lost his skills, he just made a conscious decision to put that behind him.”

It’s when he meets Teri, a young girl (played by Chloe Moretz) who’s being abused by a sex traffic ring, that he decides to do something about it – and despatches the Russian gangsters, in increasingly grisly ways.

The movie saw him reunited with director Antoine Fuqua, who he’d previously collaborated with on 2001’s Training Day, a movie that earned Washington an Oscar (he also won one for 1989’s Glory).

“He’s very talented,” he says of the film-maker. “We sent him the material and he responded with tons of ideas and it was a done deal.

“Antoine had a vision for the film, doing close work with specialised cameras, but I never worried about any of that. The camera is Antoine’s area of expertise, I just worry about the acting.”

Talitha Bateman as Janice.

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