6 Things We Learned on the Set of ‘The Equalizer’

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You won’t see Denzel Washington zipping around in a Jaguar or fighting crime in a perfectly tailored suit and tie when The Equalizer comes to the big screen. This McCall is a darker, less-dashing fighter for the little guy in a top-to-bottom makeover of the concept.


The Antoine Fuqua-directed film takes place not in The Equalizer’s traditional home of New York, but in Boston, and Yahoo Movies visited the set of there last August. Amid the prop patio furniture and ride-on lawn mowers that dressed the low key McCall’s day job at a home goods store, we talked to Washington, Fuqua, and screenwriter Richard Wenk about what makes their hero tick and what else to expect from the new Equalizer.


1.The movie is nothing like the TV show. Washington’s never actually seen the show. “When did it come on: the ’80s?” he asked. But the premise (“British fellow, snappy dresser, right?”) was all he needed to know because the script was an entirely new creation. Explained Wenk, The only elements we retained are the title and the idea of a man helping people.”


2. McCall’s not your typical vigilante. In fact, Wenk said “he’s not a vigilante” at all. “He’s not a revenge guy. He never goes after [people] in a physical way unless he has to. He’s just trying to right wrongs. That leads a lot of violence.”


3. He has obsessive compulsive tendencies. In his scene with Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, a very young prostitute in peril named Teri, you see the first signs. “I think it was my idea,” Washington said. “I just wanted to add layers so that it’s not just ‘Action Joe’ runs around kicking butt. He’s an ordinary guy with his own issues.” He added with a laugh, “He’s just tidy. Really tidy.”


4. He’s not a typical gun-toting tough guy either. On TV, McCall was always packing heat, but Washington’s character gets more creative with weaponry. “It’s a little more like: You’ll never look at a cork screw the same way again, I promise you that,” said Fuqua. “He improvises more. He’s a guy who doesn’t carry guns and things like that. That’s a part of his past. He has them, you’ll see that, but he would prefer not to do that.”


5. The home goods store bought back childhood memories for Washington. “When I was a kid, there is a department store called S. Klein — it was like a Sears,” he recalled. “My father was the night guard there. Sometimes he would take me and my brother to a place just like this, but it had a foot court and toys. We’d get there at midnight and be there until 8 in the morning … and we just had free reign. We ended up in the candy department quite a bit. Riding bikes around down the aisle.” He hinted that he may have taken one of the set’s lawn mowers for a joy ride recently.


6. It was a happy reunion for Washington and Fuqua, who worked together on 2001’s Training Day. “The way we work is cool,” said Washington, who won an Oscar for the cop drama. “The fact that we worked together and had success together makes it easier. He’s a very talented filmmaker. I let him do his thing; he lets me do mine. Fuqua, who noted they kept in touch through the years, added, Me and Denzel are friends and are very honest with each other. We have a rhythm and understanding and we work well together.”


The Equalizer opens Sept. 26.


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