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Denzel Washington on The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Published June 10, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 The Taking of Pelham 123

Whenever you see Denzel Washington in a movie, you can count on him to take care of business. He’s usually an extraordinary man in a tense situation. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 tries to make him seem ordinary, just an MTA coordinator, not some dashing action hero.

Denzel Washington Rides Pelham 123


“These are all categories,” Washington said. “Leading man, that’s something somebody calls you when you do press junkets. I mean, I don’t mean that facetiously, but that’s what that is. I’m not a leading man, I’m an actor. When you get a part, you interpret the part, so I like the idea of him not knowing anything about how to solve this problem and have problems of his own. I like the fact that he spills coffee on himself, and he’s very good as a dispatcher. He’s a star in that world, but he’s taken out of his element. I like the fact that he doesn’t want to take the mayor’s truck home. He’ll take the subway. It’s almost like in England, it’s almost like class. He knows where he belongs. He’s comfortable in that world. Important decisions to him are whether to get a gallon of milk or half a gallon.”

Washington’s character has also suffered a fall from grace, as is revealed through his negotiation. “He’s come down, but he started at the bottom, got all the way to the top or close to the top, is brought back down and he’s in denial. Everybody knows what’s going on and he’s gaining weight because it’s comfort. I think he’s eating because of the tension, this underlying tension, and he gets an opportunity, in some way, to redeem himself.”


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 The Taking of Pelham 123


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 The Taking of Pelham 123

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 The Taking of Pelham 123

Most of the film features negotiation between Washington and John Travolta from their respective positions in the MTA office and the subway train. “I think Brian [Helgeland] and Tony [Scott] really fashioned an excellent drama in this two-character play. It’s a sad scene when I have to confess to stealing this money. This poor guy makes me do it in front of everybody, then has the nerve to say, ‘We’re the same.’ You know, it’s good writing.”

The “leading man” also credits his costar with creating the tension of the film. “I think, also, there is an inherent promise of going to John Travolta. It’s like, ‘Oh look, Denzel and John. So we are going to wait to see what happens when they get together.’ So, just by the nature of who we are, it suggests or promises that something is going to happen.”

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 opens to theaters on June 12th.

For the poster, trailers, stills and more movie info, go to the The Taking of Pelham 123 Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Columbia Pictures
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