Train­ing Day’s Justin Corn­well in­spired by Muham­mad Ali

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

TORONTO — Be­fore land­ing a star­ring role on the new TV se­ries “Train­ing Day,” de­but­ing Thurs­day on CTV at 10 p.m., Amer­i­can ac­tor Justin Corn­well got a boost of con­fi­dence from “the Greatest.”

He met the late box­ing leg­end Muham­mad Ali two years ago when he was play­ing him in a the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion of “And in This Cor­ner ... Cas­sius Clay.”

“He’s my hero. He’s af­fected the way that I live my life,” Corn­well said in an in­ter­view.

“It def­i­nitely changed me,” he added of their meet­ing. “I felt like he gave me his pow­ers when I shook his hand ... I felt like right then, he gave me his like: ‘You’ve got to do it. Here you go, you’ve got ev­ery­thing you need, man.’”

Corn­well chan­nelled Ali’s moxie a year later when he heard An­toine Fuqua — di­rec­tor of the 2001 film “Train­ing Day,” which earned Den­zel Washington an Os­car — was de­vel­op­ing a se­ries set 15 years af­ter the orig­i­nal story.

“I tweeted Fuqua Films in February, a month af­ter they an­nounced that they had put the project to­gether and CBS had won out on the bid to pro­duce the pilot,” he said. “I was like, ‘Hey, don’t sleep on me, I re­ally want an au­di­tion, I’m in Chicago.’ I don’t know if they ever saw it but I ended up get­ting an au­di­tion.”

Within a week of his au­di­tion, he was on set with co-star Bill Pax­ton of “Big Love” fame, shoot­ing the Los Angeles-set se­ries.

Corn­well stars as Kyle Craig, a rookie de­tec­tive whose heroic ef­forts to save a kid get him pro­moted to the elite Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Sec­tion. There, he’s tasked with ex­pos­ing the cor­rup­tion of vet­eran cop Frank Rourke, played by Pax­ton. Costars in­clude Marianne Jean-Bap­tiste as the deputy chief.

“In­stead of be­ing as­pi­ra­tional like Ethan Hawke’s char­ac­ter was in the orig­i­nal ‘Train­ing Day,’ where Ethan Hawke wanted to be Den­zel Washington’s char­ac­ter, he wanted to be a de­tec­tive, my guy is not as as­pi­ra­tional to be Bill Pax­ton’s char­ac­ter,” said Corn­well.

“He re­ally wants to take him down, he’s wait­ing for him to slip up, re­ally.”

Kyle’s view­point on Frank changes, how­ever, when he re­al­izes he was his fa­ther’s part­ner and may be able to help him solve his mur­der.

“The po­lice chief and every­body else comes into ques­tion, like ‘Why am I re­ally here? What’s re­ally the point of putting me next to this guy?’” said Corn­well.

“It’s one of those sit­u­a­tions where I feel like, ‘Now who do I trust? Where can I go?’”

FRED­ER­ICK M. BROWN, GETTY IM­AGES

Bill Pax­ton, left, and Justin Corn­well of ’Train­ing Day,’ which de­buts Thurs­day.

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