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Denzel Washington may be playing vigilante Robert McCall again in The Equalizer 2, but don’t call the movie a sequel.
“You know, everybody keeps using that word — sequel,” the Oscar winner told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s premiere last night at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Instead of thinking of it as a sequel, Washington explained, “It’s a story without an ending and it’s open-ended, so here we are.”
The action-packed drama finds McCall working as a Lyft driver (more on that in a second) whose life is uprooted when his longtime colleague (Melissa Leo) is killed while investigating a political hit job in Brussels.
Washington breaks plenty of bones, slashes throats and more to avenge his colleague’s horrific murder.
“He’s great at it,” director Antoine Fuqua of Washington’s action skills. “He boxes every day. He could still move and do his thing.”
Writer Richard Wenk admitted there were times that he was nervous watching Washington on set, especially during a scene that takes place in a hurricane. “It was pretty harried to film it,” he told THR. “But he loves it.”
Moonlight star Ashton Sanders joins The Equalizer franchise as a young man Washington tries to save from gang life.
“He is on his way,” Fuqua gushed about Sanders. “I saw him in Moonlight and he was great. Denzel reminded me about him after they met on the SAG Awards red carpet. Ashton was excited to meet Denzel and said, ‘I’m going to work with Denzel Washington one day’ and Denzel said, ‘Yup, I’ll see you on set.'”
Washington meant what he said. “I think Ashton got a part for Roman Israel, Esq., but he got hurt so he couldn’t be in it,” Fuqua said. “So when this part came up, Denzel said “You should check him out.'”
Sanders recalled his first day on set. “I’m a bit nervous, man, but I was ready to work,” he said. “Obviously he’s a master at what he does. It’s every actor’s dream to work with Denzel so it’s bit nerve-racking, but you kind of shake that off after a while because you start doing what you’re there to do.
“Denzel made me feel very comfortable,” Sanders continued. “Our friendship off camera is an extension of what you see onscreen. He’s kind of a mentor to me in the film.”
And it sounds like the cast and crew already have plans for a third Equalizer. While Washington said whether they make another movie is “up to the people,” Wenk said, “I have [the third film] all in my head. It starts right from the end of this one.”
Producer Steve Tisch said, “What people want from Denzel and what they want to get from an Equalizer sequel they are going to get with the sequel. I’m excited for there to be an Equalizer 3.”
Now about Lyft’s branding for the movie: Premiere-goers were offered a discount code to take the ride-sharing service to and from the screening last night. Even so, that discount hasn’t been extended to the stars of the film past the premiere.
Not that Denzel was looking to save some money on the rideshare app. “I’ve never taken Lyft,” he said. “I got my own car. I drive myself. I don’t drink, so I don’t need a ride home.”
Sanders said, “I take Uber every day, not Lyft. Uber is my main source of transportation at the moment.”
The afterparty at The Hollywood Roosevelt included a deejay booth emblazoned with the pink logo of — what else? — Lyft.
The guest list included Jerry Bruckheimer, Aisha Tyler, Ludacris, Garcelle Beauvais, Wesley Snipes, THR columnist Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, Tommy Davidson, Larenz Tate and Michael Ealy.
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