Denzel Washington Nearly Starred In The Best Crime Thriller Of The ’90s

By Nikola Pajtic | Published

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During the ’90s, Denzel Washington dominated the screen in films like Malcolm X and Crimson Tide among others. However, he almost landed the lead in another now-legendary thriller, the neo-noir masterpiece Se7en directed by David Fincher.

Denzel Washington Turned Down The Role That Went To Brad Pitt

Before Brad Pitt got into contention for the role of Detective Mills, one of the actors who was offered the part was none other than Denzel Washington. While speaking with Jamie Foxx on Grey Goose Vodka, Washington came forward and confessed that he regrets passing on the role of Detective Mills. 

His Reasons For Saying No

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He stated several reasons for rejecting the part. He said that the script was too demonic for his taste. Moreover, back in 2014 at the Toronto International Film Festival, he said that he wasn’t comfortable with the film’s dark content. 

Another reason for Denzel Washington rejecting the role was Fincher’s unimpressive career in features until that point. Despite having a portfolio of magnificent music videos, which include Eddie Money’s “Endless Nights,” The Hooters’ “Johnny B,” Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” and Madonna’s monochromatic “Vogue” among others, Fincher had little experience making full-length films. 

His only work in the field was the troubled production of Alien 3, from which he was fired three times before it was completed. After that, he took the helm of Se7en and made a stunning accomplishment, as it forever stands as one the best crime films in modern history.  

Washington Thinks Brad Pitt Was The Right Choice

After watching the film, Denzel Washington praised it and focused on Brad Pitt’s efforts, saying that the role was made for Brad Pitt. Pitt delivered an impressive performance, but it is hard not to respect Washington’s honesty about his reservations. It is a reminder that even the most celebrated actors can make choices they later regret or reconsider. 

Se7en Catapulted David Fincher’s Career

For those unfamiliar, Se7en follows two detectives, a seasoned veteran nearing retirement (Morgan Freeman) and a hotshot rookie (Brad Pitt), on the hunt for a serial killer who commits gruesome murders inspired by the seven deadly sins.  

Se7en might have been different with Denzel Washington in the role, but there’s no denying the brilliance of both the film and Brad Pitt’s performance. It helped Pitt break away from the shackles of a golden boy looks, adding drama and thriller to his portfolio. 

The massive success of Se7en launched David Fincher into the big leagues. The film’s critical acclaim and box office success positioned him as an A-list director who isn’t afraid of dark and macabre stories. 

He successfully continued his career with several blockbusters attached to his name, like The Game, with Michael Douglas in the lead role, then Fight Club, a cult classic in which he reunited with Brad Pitt, adding Edward Norton to the list of actors with whom he worked with, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, among many others. 

Turning Down Se7en Didn’t Hurt Denzel Washington’s Career

On the other side, Denzel Washington’s career took no blow for missing the role of Detective Mills. He continued with notable performances in films like Courage Under Fire, a war drama, while his role in The Hurricane earned him his second Best Actor Oscar nomination. Other films in which he starred include the action crime drama Man on Fire, the biographical crime drama American Gangster, the action thriller trilogy The Equalizer, and others.