Seven of the best for Denzel and Co
Double Oscar winner Washington takes on a western reboot
The 1960 western movie The Magnificent Seven has a special place in the hearts of film fans. A retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japaneselanguage film Seven Samurai, the John Sturges production pitted screen icons Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and more together as a band of misfit gunmen on a mission against the odds. Training Day producer Antoine Fuqua is the man tasked with this reboot, out in UAE cinemas tomorrow. He’s teamed up with Denzel Washington once again for this retelling. Here’s Washington’s take...
There’s something almost mythical about original film, The Magnificent Seven, and the film that inspired that, Seven Samurai.
You know, I don’t really look at it that way. I’ve never seen The Magnificent Seven and I don’t approach a character on what people say or have said about the past movies because I don’t know how to play “mythical”. I don’t know what that means. I just look at what the script gives me and what it says about this man in these circumstances.
Antoine had put a great team together and you trust in each department’s ability to handle it. And you know, it all starts with the material.
You play Sam Chisolm. What can you tell us about him?
He comes to town, looking for revenge for something that happened to his family. He’s coming to do a job and finds that this town is being taken over. It’s a story about good and evil. He’s not completely good.
The first man he recruits is Josh Faraday, played by Chris Pratt, after they meet in a bar…
It’s coincidence because he’s in the bar to serve the warrant. Justice is a big motivation for Chisolm – he wasn’t able to serve justice for his own family and because of that, he’s attracted to right wrongs, to bring evil people to jail and to make them pay for their crimes.
Faraday kind of admires what my character does and he’s intrigued by that. Faraday is a gambler, a card player, and he likes a pretty girl.
He’s very fast with a gun and very funny. He’s in it for the booze and women to begin with but it turns into something else for him as well.
Is Chisolm looking for specific abilities in each of the six men he recruits?
There are some he knows, like Goodnight Robicheaux, played by Ethan Hawke, and Goodnight has a friend, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee) who’s nifty with knives. He sees a strength and a power in Faraday and he knows Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and what he is capable of, his tracking ability – so some of them he knows, but not all.
Tell us about the recruits...
These men are there for a number of reasons - they all have their own motivations for joining Chisolm at first. But that changes when they see that Bogue (the villain, played by Peter Sarsgaard) has enslaved these people. They see how this evil man has broken the backs, literally and spiritually, of these people and that affects each of the seven in a different way. There’s something timeless about the idea of protecting the weak, the innocent.
What was it like to work with world-famous sharpshooter Thell Reed?
He would always tell me “smooth is fast”. You know, I have fast hands and I’ve been boxing for years. I’m just fast but he was always telling me “slow down! Slow down!” (laughs) Thell is the man. He’s worked with John Wayne. You know, he’s the man. He’s the truth…
You’ve obviously got a great history working with Antoine…
Antoine and I have obviously had great success. We won our Academy Award with Training Day and we had great financial success with The Equalizer. He’s a master filmmaker. I think we are a good fit. I think he got interested in movies from watching westerns, frontier movies, as a child.
What was it like working with this group?
They are very, very talented, powerful, strong actors and very strong individuals. I didn’t hang out too much with the fellas and that’s just sort of my nature anyway but there’s a lot of talent on the screen, that’s for sure. I always kid Chris (Pratt) and I call him Jurassic Boy. And you know he’s a very, very fine young man. He’s he’s an ordinary man with an extraordinary job.
‘I don’t approach a character on what people have said about past movies. I don’t know how to play mythical.’ – Denzel Washington