There seems to be some confusion about who Denzel Washington is channeling for his new flick Roman J. Israel, Esq. According to Deadline, Washington modeled his character’s look and signature afro after Roots band member Quest Love. Denzel, however, is calling the report fake news.
“No, that’s not correct; that’s the Internet” he told HipHollywood when we asked for clarification. “I’m from the ’70s. When Quest was 2 I had hair like that, so Quest learned from us.”
In the film written and directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Washington plays a headstrong defense attorney whose knack for speaking his mind and inability to adapt to a new day and time becomes his gift and curse. The veteran actor, who has played an attorney three other times – in Philadelphia, The Pelican Brief and Ricochet, said he had never played a character like this before.
“I did some research on people with Asperger’s [syndrome] and the spectrum,” he said. “But this was fertile territory. When I read the script I was like, ‘man I’ve never read anything like this’ … I was inspired.”
Meanwhile, Gilroy told us Denzel brought the character to life in a way he never imagined. “I wrote the character, he created the character,” explained Gilroy. “Every part of what you see, from the poster, to the inside, to the way he moved, that was all Denzel.”
“We had a lot of conversations about stuff,” added Gilroy, “But I never knew exactly what he was doing.”
Gilroy also confessed that he wanted make sure the cast around Washington was stellar, so he enlisted Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo. “Once you hire Denzel, you can’t put him with anything other than great actors, it’s just not going to be good for anybody on a lot of levels.”
And Ejogo, who plays young activist attorney Maya, echoed those sentiments. “He demanded everything from me in order to then bring everything out in himself. As great as he is, if he is working opposite people who aren’t bringing it, then he doesn’t get to do his work.”
And you can see Washington do magnificent work in Roman J. Israel, Esq. when it hits theaters November 17.