Actor Denzel Washington wanted to take the naughtiness out of his training day extreme role. In doing so, he recommended a scene that showed just how far his character Alonzo Harris was willing to go.
But the studio initially pushed the scene back, fearing it would make Alonzo too mean.
Denzel Washington’s Son Helped Convince Him to Play a Villain in ‘Training Day’
Washington was known for playing noble characters who, at worst, were morally flexible. Despite years in the film industry before, training day was the first movie Washington tapped into a full-fledged villain character.
In an interview resurfaced at the Toronto Film Festival (via Wife), Washington confessed that he’s always wanted to play a villain. Hollywood just didn’t see him in that type of role.
“It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just that no one has ever asked me to play a villain before. That’s not how Hollywood views me,” Washington said.
Being a villain also offered The equalizer actor a different kind of experience than he might get from playing positive characters.
“It’s a huge honor and privilege to play real-life heroes, but there’s another kind of excitement and reward for an actor to play a villain. I have to admit, I had a lot of fun to play Harris in training day,” he said.
Before accepting the role, however, one of his children also played a role in Washington’s turn to villainy.
“My son convinced me to do this movie. He was like, ‘Dad, you’ve never done anything like this.’ I just hadn’t been asked before. The only somewhat dark movie I turned down was Seven. They offered me the role of Brad Pitt, but I was like, “It’s so dark and evil.” Then when I saw the movie, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot,’” he once told Entertainment Weekly.
Denzel Washington Once Suggested This Scene From ‘Training Day’ That The Studio Says Went Too Far
As dirty cop Alonzo Harris, Washington was well aware that he was playing a character with very few redeeming qualities. Due to Alonzo’s hatred, Washington wanted the character to receive as horrible a result as possible.
“If there’s anything in the film that I asked for, it’s that at the end, [my character] is suffering in the worst possible way,” Washington said in an interview with the New York Post.
Washington also wanted to see Alonzo get his reward from his co-star Ethan Hawke’s more heroic persona. During the conflict with Hawke, Washington saw an opportunity to show the public just how vile Alonzo could be.
“Ethan stupidly hitting him was the only way I could justify being as evil and mean as I was. Knowing his fate freed me to go further and further – I suggested a scene where he puts his own son in the line of fire to save his own skin,” Washington recalled.
But he encountered some resistance to the idea.
“It made the studio a little nervous. They said, “It’s going to make people hate him,” and, well, that was the whole point. Once you adhere to it, nothing is sacred. You don’t want to disinfect. And I quickly shut down any thoughts of letting him off the hook in the end,” he said.
Ethan Hawke couldn’t believe Denzel Washington had the guts to play Alonzo Harris on ‘Training Day’
Hawke also got a lot of praise for her co-star and her performance. Like many young actors, Washington was a star Hawke looked up to from a young age.
“I’ve always admired Denzel because he’s one of the few really great movie stars who’s also a great actor,” Hawke said according to The Morning Call. “I think his work in Malcolm X is just as good as De Niro in angry bull.”
Still, Hawke was surprised that Washington made a movie like training day.
“But I still couldn’t believe Denzel had the guts to take on this role because he’s so often pushed to be a role model for his community. But he did it, and he did it like he does everything. the rest – incredibly well,” Hawke said.
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