Denzel Washington Reveals The Big Change That Happened On Training Day

That's tough to imagine.

By Dan Lawrence | Published

denzel washington training day

Director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington have each cemented incredible legacies in modern cinema over the past two decades. Their filmmaking relationship began in the smash-hit film Training Day, for which Washington received an Oscar for his portrayal of LAPD narcotics officer Alonzo and the film kicked Fuqua’s filmmaking career into overdrive. Both Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington are now veterans of cinema and the director’s success can be traced back to Training Day being such a hit, but Washington revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he believes a big change occurred in the scripting of Training Day, namely the skin color of the character he wound up playing.

“I don’t think it was written for a Black guy. It was more like a plaid-shirt [wearing] guy with beer bottles in the back,” says Washington. “Antoine was the one that brought gangster to it.”In Training Day, Denzel Washington shines as Alonzo, a long-standing undercover narcotics officer embattled with investigating inner city crime. Along for the ride is Ethan Hawke as Jake Hoyt, taken under Alonzo’s wing for his first day on the job. Hoyt bares witness to Alonzo’s questionable ethics and is the audience’s conduit for deciphering whether Alonzo’s actions are justifiable. It’s needless to say, but without Washington, the film wouldn’t have been the success it was and cinemagoers would likely have been robbed of the numerous projects both he and Fuqua worked on following Training Day.

Antoine Fuqua’s journey to teaming up with Denzel Washington began when he switched from an aspirational sports career to attending film school in New York. The former Pittsburgh native then went on a prolific period in the mid-nineties directing music videos for artists such as Prince on his iconic track The Most Beautiful Girl In the World, before releasing his first feature film, The Replacement Killers in 1998. Washington recalls it was The Replacement Killers that served as a catalyst for working with Fuqua; “Hey, this kid can shoot. If he can shoot and I can act, I thought that would be a good combination.” Washington’s career in film began a decade in advance of Fuqua’s, making his major film debut in the 1981 comedy Carbon Copy. At the opposite end of the decade, the world took note of Washington’s acting prowess thanks to his Oscar-winning performance as the runaway slave Tripp in the Civil War drama Glory.

After both Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua joined forces on Training Day with great success, they continued to create films together. The duo’s legacy includes films such as The Equalizer (which spawned a sequel and the pair are working on a third instalment) and The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the iconic 1960 John Sturges Western that starred Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach. Separately, the pair have also been prolific. Denzel Washington’s last project was The Tragedy of Macbeth, which saw him star as the titular character in writer/director Joel Coen’s adaptation of the famed Shakespeare play. Antoine Fuqua directed a single episode of Amazon Prime’s The Terminal List starring Chris Pratt and has also been working on the documentary Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers, which premieres on Hulu on August 15th.