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Denzel Washington fixed the gap between his front teeth sometime after high school. But for his new role in Roman J. Israel, Esq., the actor removed his dental caps, studio sources say, to play a legal savant who spent decades in a firm’s back office. In the film, there’s a visible gap between his two front teeth and he rarely smiles.
Washington and director Dan Gilroy drew a standing ovation following the drama’s world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 10 (Washington made the post Q&A just in time as he jetted in from Boston where he is shooting The Equalizer 2).
After wiping away tears as the credits rolled, one audience member at the Ryerson Theatre asked her seatmate about what happened to Washington’s trademark smile, which clearly called for some orthodontia. As for playing a lawyer likely on the autism spectrum, the actor told the crowd that he did research on how people with Asperger’s “mimic neurotypical behavior.” But he preferred to keep his process shrouded in a bit of mystery. “I don’t like to talk about it too much. I just try to do it,” he added.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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