Denzel Washington has been working for so long now that he's sort of an institution, one of those performers who is both movie star and actor. I think there is a clear distinction between those two things, and there are movie stars who never really push themselves out of their comfort zones, just as there are great actors who don't possess whatever that particular charisma is that makes someone iconic. Washington is capable of disappearing into a character, but he's also one of those guys who financiers love because he's been such a reliable box-office sensation over the years.
"Flight," the new film by Robert Zemeckis, calls on both sides of Denzel's personality. It's the story of a guy who is capable of exceptional things who is also a high-functioning alcoholic and drug abuser, and his character is a hard person to like. Denzel's charisma helps with that, and he manages to show you how this guy is able to coast on charm even as he burns his life down. If he wasn't such a movie star, I'm not sure you'd have any sympathy for him, but if he wasn't such a good actor, I don't think that slow crumble of addiction would feel as authentic and unapologetic as it does. It's the sort of work that reminds you just how good someone can be.
The press day for "Flight" was a strange one. Zemeckis cut out halfway through the day, and John Goodman (who is as much of a stand-out here as he is in "Argo") wasn't present, either. The way things were going, I was nervous that I wasn't going to end up talking to Denzel, which would have been an enormous frustration. In the end, I did end up part of the group that sat down with him, and he was pretty much exactly what you'd expect.
I thought for sure I must have interviewed him before, but as I looked back into our archives, it appears that we did not get him for "Book Of Eli," and when "Safe House" rolled around, Katie Hasty did that one. Dan Fienberg talked to him for "The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3," and since "Unstoppable" was Fox, that wasn't even an option for me. So this may well have been the first time we spoke, and he seems like one of those guys who can make even a short conversation feel like it matters to him.
We'll have a few more interviews from "Flight" before the film lands in theaters this Friday, November 2, 2012.
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
Let Streaming Genie help you.