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“He didn’t get cheated. We did. I pray for his poor wife and his family. They got cheated, but he lived a full life,” Washington told an informal conversation with veteran Hollywood director Barry Levinson at the Toronto Film Festival on Thursday.
After calling Boseman a “gentle soul,” Washington recounted a red carpet premiere for Disney’s Black Panther tentpole that he attended. “I went backstage and I saw Chad and I saw Ryan Coogler, and then I watched the movie and I remember shedding a tear, because I thought, man, these young guys are gone. Like they’d taken over,” Washington recalled during the virtual talk moderated by Scott Feinberg, the awards columnist at The Hollywood Reporter and host of the ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast.
That respect that repaid by Boseman during the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Washington in 2019 when he recalled the Training Day and Glory Oscar winner paying for his tuition to take part in a British American Drama Academy summer program.
During the TIFF conversation, Washington was also full of praise for Levinson, whose movie director credits include Diner, Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man, Bugsy, Wag the Dog and The Humbling, which debuted at Toronto.
Washington had been listening intently as Levinson at one point explained directing movies was “a lot of preparation and then a lot of freedom. It’s a controlled freedom. Inside it can get messy and you can try all sorts of things to see what moments can be highlighted or if suddenly there’s discovery — an actor can’t remember their lines and there’s three, four seconds and all of a sudden that becomes interesting.”
At that point, Washington broke in on the virtual talk to reveal his hand. “Barry, this is really why I’m here today. What I want you to do is come by the set,” he asked as Washington prepares to direct his fourth movie, a drama about love and loss, after Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters and Fences.
Washington asked Levinson which movies he should screen for tips on directing a romancer. “Not to scare you, but it’s the most delicate thing because how to handle a romance is a tough line. On the one hand, it may too romantic so we don’t believe it, and at the same time you need to feel the passion of two people and the frustrations and trying to communicate all the things that go with it,” Levinson offered.
Washington recalled advice on directing that he’d already received from Joel Coen, who directed him in the big screen adaptation of Macbeth. “I said, what about stealing? He said everybody steals. But steal from somebody good, steal from the best. So I said, okay, is it okay if I steal from you, Joel?” the veteran actor said.
The Toronto Film Festival runs through to Sept. 19.
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