SCREEN LIFE:

Den­zel Washington hell-bent on jus­tice in all-ac­tion re­make

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Seanna Cronin

DEN­ZEL Washington was the only lead­ing man for di­rec­tor An­toine Fuqua’s re­make of The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven.

The Os­car-win­ner leads an all-star ensem­ble cast in­clud­ing Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vin­cent D’Onofrio.

Q: Tell us about your char­ac­ter, Sam Chisolm.

A: He comes to town and he’s look­ing for re­venge for some­thing that hap­pened to his fam­ily. I don’t know if that’s in the other ver­sions, but in our story he’s look­ing for re­venge. He’s com­ing to do a job and then he finds that this town is be­ing taken over. You know, it’s a story about good and evil – and he’s not com­pletely good.

Q: He’s ap­proached by Emma Cullen, played by Ha­ley Bennett, who asks him for help and he clearly con­nects with her…

A: When Chisolm meets Emma he can see her fire. He can re­late to her and her cir­cum­stances and I think he feels like this is his chance to set things right, to do some­thing for her that he was un­able to do in his own case, with his own fam­ily. He sees her re­solve and her de­ter­mi­na­tion to seek jus­tice. He wasn’t able to serve jus­tice in his own fam­ily and he now has this de­sire to right wrongs, to make evil peo­ple pay for their crimes. Q: So he’s haunted by the past?

A: My char­ac­ter is a duly sworn war­rant of­fi­cer from Kansas. He’s also a li­censed peace of­fi­cer in Arkansas, Nebraska, In­dian Ter­ri­to­ries and seven other states – that’s what he al­ways says to ev­ery­one when he meets them be­cause he’s a black man in the fron­tier, in a po­si­tion of author­ity, so he needs to let peo­ple know that he has author­ity from the gov­ern­ment to do his job. He’s a loner, he’s un­afraid and he’s a master with his weapon, but he’s not a brag­gart. He’s a lonely man, an hon­ourable and coura­geous man – you know, ev­ery­thing I’m not (laughs). He’s com­pli­cated and he’s not used to deal­ing with peo­ple, es­pe­cially some young girl like Emma, but when he finds out the cir­cum­stances and what’s in­volved, he has a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose.

Q: There are ob­vi­ously some heavy scenes but is it fun, too, be­ing in a western?

A: It’s fun be­cause we’re on our horses and we’re all to­gether and guys are talk­ing, crack­ing jokes and, you know, the guys are spin­ning their guns. I never had the op­por­tu­nity – and I don’t know if I’ll get an­other op­por­tu­nity – to do a western. Maybe it shouldn’t even be called a western. It’s a story that takes place on the fron­tier, on the edges of a young and new Amer­ica. And it’s about what hap­pens on those edges when there’s law­less­ness and some­times a lack of or­der, so men like th­ese seven come to­gether to make sense out of it.

Q: Part of your prepa­ra­tion was work­ing with Thell Reed, who is a world-renowned sharp shooter. What was that like?

A: He would al­ways tell me “smooth is fast”. 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!” Thell is the man. He’s worked with John Wayne. You know, he’s the man.

Q: You’ve ob­vi­ously got a great his­tory work­ing with An­toine…

A: 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; he knows what he is do­ing and he knows how to put films to­gether and he al­lows me to do what it is I know how to do. I think we are a good fit. I think he got in­ter­ested in movies from watch­ing westerns, fron­tier movies, as a child and so this is a life-long dream come true for him.

The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven opens on Thursday.

PHOTO: SCOTT GARFIELD

READY TO RIDE: Vin­cent D'Onofrio, Martin Sens­meier, Manuel Gar­cia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Den­zel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-Hun Lee in a scene from the movie The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven.

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