We caught up with director Antoine Fuqua to discuss The Equalizer 2– his fourth collaboration with Denzel Washington.

On the eve of his fourth outing with Denzel Washington in The Equalizer 2, director Antoine Fuqua reveals how he longs to turn his lens on Australia.

“I really wanted to shoot The Magnificent Seven in Australia but it just didn’t work out,” says Fuqua, who directed Washington to an Oscar in 2001’s Training Day, collaborating again in 2014’s reboot of The Equalizer and on Magnificent Seven two years ago.

“I tried so hard to get us in Australia but couldn’t get over the hump with all the actors’ schedules where they had to be in the States for other things.

“And I really enjoy the Australian actors,” adds the director, who had a great experience with Joel Edgerton on 2004 action-drama King Arthur.

“I’d love to get my hands on Chris Hemsworth and do something really gritty with him. He’s such a strong and powerful actor. I’ve also been talking with Eric Bana forever about working together,” he tells STACK when we talk just weeks before the release of The Equalizer 2.

Currently logging in 13-hour days in the edit room, Fuqua laughs when we remind him of what every cinephile knows – that Washington is no fan of sequels.

Notwithstanding, both men happily signed on to reprise Washington’s role as elusive assassin Robert McCall.

“Neither of us thought we wanted to make a sequel. But when we saw the script for a second one, we said: Why not? McCall had a lot of mystery and intrigue which wasn’t revealed earlier. We felt there was more to know about him and we could take him overseas and have him be part of a global story,” says Fuqua who, this time around, puts his leading man onboard a train bound for Istanbul.

The key to his enduring relationship with Washington is simple, he says. “We have a great friendship but, equally important, is that we trust and respect one another. Denzel is a great actor and we spend a lot of time beforehand discussing story and character. By time we get to day one of filming, I don’t need to worry about Mr. Washington showing up and delivering the goods, and he doesn’t worry about me doing the same. Every day we challenge each other.”

Director Antoine Fuqua

Previously attached to direct 66-year-old Liam Neeson in upcoming cartel movie Narco Sub, Fuqua never questions the age of his leading men. With Washington punching in at 63, he says, “I never see Denzel as ‘older’. I just see him as a great actor. We’ve both been boxing for years and we literally build a gym with a boxing ring wherever we go. He’s in there every day at 6am, training and boxing.

“He learns the moves and does most of the stunts himself. He enjoys it. He did the same thing on Magnificent Seven. Months before we even got into filming, he’d be out on a horse every day with the stunt guys. I don’t ever think about his age and it never comes up in conversation.”

Not that he compares Washington’s scenes in The Equalizer 2 with Neeson’s in the Taken franchise. “No-one punches Denzel like that! He takes his licks but it’s not like that. We try to keep it grounded and real,” says Fuqua, next set to direct a remake of Scarface starring Diego Luna with the blessing of his old friend Oliver Stone.

If violence is the hallmark of many of his films, from Training Day to Olympus Has Fallen, Shooter and Southpaw, then he trusts none of it is gratuitous. “It’s always been about justice, and the wages of sin is death. You can’t behave that way without being punished and when someone is so bad, they have to die. It’s the ultimate penalty for bad behaviour and corruption. It’s not about glorifying the violence – it’s about justice.”

The Equalizer 2 is in cinemas on July 19.

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