On Sept. 22, 2014, yeahstub.com was on the red carpet for the New York premiere of director Antoine Fuqua’s latest film “The Equalizer, which hits theaters this Friday, Sept. 26. The screening was presented by Imax and The Stone Rose Lounge and was held at AMC Lincoln Square. Steve Tisch, Ethan Hawke, Spike Lee, Anthony Mackie, Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Amar’e Stoudemire hosted the evening. From the film: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Haley Bennett, Johnny Skourtis and director Antoine Fuqua were joined by Paz de la Huerta, Tamron Hall, Hill Harper, Jay Pharoah, Nikki M. James, Orfeh and Michael Kenneth Williams, to name a few.
Film Synopsis: Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer. Read our exclusive interviews below:
So tell me how did you come to write the project?
Jason Blumenthal and Todd Black brought me the project, asked me if I would be interested in developing this project for Denzel Washington and those were the two magic words; Denzel Washington so I took a shot at that and it worked out. It took a while, but it worked out.
Did you use anything from the TV show? Tell me about that process.
I took the basic concept only and that was a man with skills who helps people. I think that the TV show which I had not really seen was about an ex-operative with a trench coat and a jaguar and putting ads papers and helping people, this was more of a common man who had a past that we don’t know about, he was more along the lines of a western like “Shane” somebody you don’t know, and he’s starting to find out where he belongs in the world.
Did you meet with Denzel about it before writing about it?
No. I knew he would read it. I didn’t know he would do it. I’d have to do a good enough job for him to do it.
Tell me what you think of the end result?
I think it’s amazing. I think his performance elevated the movie, I think Antoine Fuqua’s direction took what was on that page and made it beautiful and painted pictures that even I couldn’t imagine. It’s one of those rare movies where it just got elevated all along the way.
What was the most challenging scene or favorite scene to write?
My favorite scenes were all in the diner between him and Chloe I love all the human scenes and then the hardest scene really was trying to figure out five ways to kill someone in Home Depot … That was interesting.
That was an incredible scene.
It was and it was hard to come up with stuff you haven’t seen before.
Literature is an important motif in the film. Books like “Old Man In The Sea,” “Invisible man” and more are referenced.
“Bend In The River” and “Don Quixote,” too. Well he was reading books that his wife read before she died, and I thought that they should all reflect where he was in his personal journey at that moment in the movie. In the beginning he was searching as he said as “The Old Man In The Sea,” thinking his life was over. “Don Quixote” is he’s a knight in shining armor where knights don’t exist anymore, and “A Bend in the River” is where your life is turning, and the “Invisible Man” is where he becomes an equalizer and no one knows.
How did you get your start in writing?
Well I had a great film teacher in high school who turned me on to literature and what not. I went to NYU, learned screen writing, and got hired by Roger Corman in New World Pictures to write a movie and off I went.
So, what’s next?
“Jack Reacher 2″ with Tom Cruise.
Are you excited to tackle that?
I am. I love the books and I love Tom and I think it’s a great, great franchise.
Johnny Skourtis plays “Ralphie” in the film.
What was the casting process like?
I got an audition after a three day weekend and I went in to audition for Betty Mae Castings down in LA. I left the first audition with the casting director thinking I couldn’t do anything different … I felt good about it either way then I got a call back and then I had to sit in with Antoine Fuqua, and seeing him on the couch – he was like as big as the couch and I was so freaked out. And then I did it again and I felt the same way after that, and then two weeks later they called me and told me that I booked it and I was off to Boston.
Tell me about working with Antoine?
He’s amazing, so incredible. He knows just what to say to get the performance he wants out of an actor in any situation in any scene of a movie. He’s so much fun.
Speak about working with the legendary Denzel Washington.
Well there’s really not much to say aside from that. I got to work with someone who is on the Mount Rushmore of acting, and it was a dream come true to be able to just watch him do his thing and learn stuff that I can apply to my work which is incredible.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
The scene in the beginning when we’re eating lunch and I sneak like potato chips with my sandwhich, that was the most fun for me.
Why should people go out and see the film?
Because it’s a great film if you like going to the movies and having a good time, you’re not going to find a better movie then this to go see.
Jason Blumenthal produced the film.
Tell us about the production process.
Well we developed it from scratch, I grew up with the show from my earliest memories I loved the show and when we had the opportunity to get involved with the actual development of this we knew this was something we could bring a really solid franchise around. We have a relationship with Denzel, we’ve made four movies with him, so I knew if we could find the right vehicle for him that we could build something together and I think the proof is in the pudding. I think we’ve made an amazing film, and I think Denzel’s been better than he has been in a long time, and I hope audiences love it as much as I love making it.
What was it like to collaborate with Denzel again?
We produced the two movies he directed. The Antoine Fisher story and “The Great Debaters.” He also starred in The “Taking of Pelham 123” which we produced so he’s become a partner, a friend, a mentor, and you couldn’t ask for anyone better to work with.
What was it like working with Antoine?
Antoine’s amazing. We just finished a film with him called “Southpaw” and he’s truly an unbelievable filmmaker, he’s become an amazing friend, and collaborator. Working with him is one of the highlights of my career.
What can we expect from “Southpaw”?
“Southpaw” is he most intense, authentic boxing movie you’ve seen ever. That’s what I can say.
Guests enjoyed drinks from Avion Tequila, light bites and Baked By Melissa cupcakes at the after-party, which was held at Stone Rose Lounge.