TWO OF THE GOOD GUYS
DENZEL WASHINGTON AND CHRIS PRATT JOIN FORCES IN A REMAKE OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Misfit” is not the word that comes to mind when thinking about Denzel Washington, 61, or Chris Pratt, 37. Washington, a two-time Academy Award winner, has been playing gritty, gripping characters for four decades in films like
Training Day and Flight. Pratt rose to fame as the goofy guy on TV’s Parks and Recreation in 2009 before moving into breezy blockbuster film roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. Now the two headline The Magnificent
Seven, a Western that hits theaters Sept. 23, which Pratt describes as “seven misfit personalities all coming together to fight for something that’s bigger than themselves.”
They are joined by Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Matt Bomer, Vincent D’Onofrio and Haley Bennett in the remake of the iconic 1960 film, which itself was a remake of the 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai.
The movie was filmed just north of Baton Rouge, La., in the scorching summer of 2015. The two “misfits” sat down with Parade to talk about their characters, their families ( Washington is a father of four with his wife of 33 years, Pauletta; Pratt has been married to actress Anna Faris for seven years, and they have one son, 3-yearold Jack) and what it was like to play cowboys in the blazing summer heat.
Did you both grow up watching Westerns?
Washington: Sunday nights, we watched Ed Sullivan, I think at 8, and then we watched Bonanza— and I knew when that went off, you had to go to bed. But every week we got to watch this Western family. It was a cool world, and they had power— they owned the Ponderosa. Little Joe had his gun kind of
sideways, Hoss was knockin’ people out.
Pratt: My dad was a big fan [of Westerns], and growing up it never connected with me. But now that I’m a dad—and I don’t know if it’s a combination of my dad being gone and me trying to get back to finding him—but I really embraced it four or five years ago.
Denzel, your character Sam Chisolm is a bounty hunter; Chris, your Josh Farraday is a gambler—but they both want to fight to help this town. Are Sam and Josh good guys or bad guys?
Pratt: I think my character is somebody who for a long time in his life was convinced he was bad. I think when a person thinks they’re bad, they let themselves do things that are bad. And then when they realize they’re good, they feel guilty for the things they’ve done. That was where I felt this character probably lived.
Washington: You appreciate someone who knows the difference—who decides to do the right thing even knowing what the consequences are going to be. That’s a hero.
So what’s more fun, playing the good guy or the bad guy?
Pratt: There’s a funny thing I heard about acting: When you play a villain, you have to imagine in your mind that you’re the good guy, and when you’re the good guy, you have to fear in your mind that you may be the villain. A good villain is like, “What I’m doing is right. These people need to die.” That’s what makes a villain complicated—that in their mind, they’re doing the right thing.
Washington: The bad guy is a lot of fun. But these guys are both—they’re good guys that have done bad things.
Pratt: Ooh, that was good: They’re good guys who have done bad things. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to play the bad guy. Hopefully I’ll play one, one time. [In this film] I think he wants other people to believe he’s bad. Or . . . oh, God, am I the villain, thinking I’m a hero? Oh no!
Chris, your Guardians of
the Galaxy character, Peter Quill, was sort of a space cowboy. Do you think he’s similar to your Magnificent
Pratt: I think Peter is stunted emotionally as a child, and I don’t think that is the case with Farraday. There’s something similar in him, but it’s not intentional—that’s just always going to happen when I play a role, because part of me is going to come through those characters. I guess they’re both incredibly handsome.
Washington: [Laughs] And honest.
Pratt: And humble—most important, humble. I did see this as an option to do something unlike anything I’d done before.
Chris, you started out on Parks and Rec as the funny guy, and now you’re playing this role, which is about as “man’s man” as it gets. Did you plot that path?
Pratt: No, I did not. I really didn’t. It’s about 16 years I’ve been acting, and the first 70, 80 percent of that, I was auditioning for everything. If they said yes, I did it! That was my rule. [But] this film was something I wanted to do.
What about you, Denzel? If you could only play the good guy or bad guy for the rest of your career . . .
Washington: I don’t think I’ve played a goofy, funny man. I gotta work on that.
You both had to develop your cowboy skills for this film. Had either of you been on horses this much before?
Washington: I never rode this much. There was a whole lot of, “And . . . cut!”
Pratt: [In his “director’s voice”] “All right, Chris, let’s do it again. Is there any way you can not look terrified? Remember, Farraday is not petrified of horses.”
How much practice did you need for the gunslinging and twirling?
Pratt: We have to give credit to a gentleman by the name of Thell Reed, who is a world champion gunslinger and fast-draw shooter who’s been around so long that at 15 years old, he was on The
Ed Sullivan Show. I mean, the guy’s awesome. Everyone was practicing gun twirling.
Washington: You had the guns a lot, so you were always fiddling around. They become a part of you.
What was the hardest part about filming?
Washington and Pratt: The heat.
Washington: It was 100 every day. And me: black man, black hat, black shirt, black vest, black pants, black socks, black boots, black saddle on a black horse. It was mean!
Pratt: “Denzel! Do you mind standing over there? It’s about 20 degrees hotter around you and your horse right now.” One day we did this battle scene with a big action sequence: I sprint, take two shots; sprint 50 yards, take two more shots. I drank maybe 25 bottles of water and sweated them all out! I sweated through three wardrobe
Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt endured scorching Louisiana heat while shooting The MagnificentSeven.