Director Antoine Fuqua had a great time on the Italian shoot for The Equalizer 3 — aside from all the vomiting. The problem was not the local food, which Fuqua adored, but the many steps leading to the vertiginously positioned Amalfi Coast church where he filmed part of his Denzel Washington-starring action threequel.
"The church is 700 steps up," says the filmmaker, who has directed all three films in The Equalizer franchise. "When I got there, I said, 'So, how are we going to get this equipment up the steps? Oh, we use donkeys.' I didn't see one donkey in Italy the whole time I was there. There wasn't a donkey in sight! I saw my crew, with cigarettes dangling out of their mouths carrying equipment up these steps. There was a lot of puking going on."
Fuqua recently told Total Film that he didn't see himself directing another film in The Equalizer franchise and that, from his conversations with Washington, "this is the final one [for him] as well." Speaking with EW, Fuqua leaves the door open a smidge to reuniting on a fourth film with Washington, who will next be seen in the Gladiator sequel.
Stefano Montesi/Columbia Pictures Denzel Washington in 'The Equalizer 3'
"I believe this would be it. We've both talked about it that way. But you never know!" the director says. "Listen, Denzel's in shape. He's training every day. If you saw him now, it would blow your mind. He's like 60 pounds lighter, even from The Equalizer. He's really healthy. Yeah, it's up to him. Obviously, if he wanted to do another one, I would as well, but I don't see it. But who knows?"
In The Equalizer 3, Washington reprises his role of ex-CIA operative Robert McCall who has committed himself to helping the helpless, often in a manner that results in him killing many, many people. This time around, Washington's character tangles with the Mafia, first in Sicily and then on the mainland of Italy. Fuqua explains that McCall visits Europe "to right a wrong [committed on] someone back here in the States and he finds himself helping people in a small fishing village who need assistance."
Stefano Montesi/Columbia Pictures Dakota Fanning in 'The Equalizer 3'
In the first two films, Washington's vigilante at times resembled an almost Terminator-esque killing machine, but the director teases that, at the start of The Equalizer 3, McCall is "mentally and physically in a dark place."
"That gives him time to rethink his purpose, rethink his actions, think about his past, and make the proper decisions moving forward," he says.
The film's supporting cast includes Dakota Fanning as a CIA analyst who is very interested in McCall's Italian job. As a child actor, Fanning appeared alongside Washington in 2004's Tony Scott-directed Man on Fire. Fuqua says his leading man was thrilled at the idea of reuniting with the actress.
Stefano Montesi/Columbia Pictures Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua on the set of 'The Equalizer 3'
The director remembers that he "called Denzel and said, 'Dakota's interested.' He goes, 'Grab her!' Because he has such love for her." Fuqua says that reuniting the pair "definitely made my job easier, because there's an admiration and a love there that is natural and real. Denzel sometimes would look over at me and go, 'She's a grown-up now!' Like he couldn't believe it. So, that was fun."
Regardless of what happens if this Equalizer really is in fact the last Equalizer, Fuqua's next planned project will feature a very different tempo. The filmmaker is hoping to direct a biopic of Michael Jackson starring the singer's nephew, Jaafar Jackson.
"It's uncanny how much he's like Michael," the director says of Jaafar, the son of Jermaine Jackson. "Sounds like him, dances like him. I mean, it's really uncanny. It's on hold, obviously, because of the strike. So, we're just waiting to see what happens." At the very least, there will probably be less puking.
The Equalizer 3 hits theaters this Friday.
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