Denzel Washington talks about FlightBy Rebecca Younger
January 30, 2013
FLIGHT tells the redemption story of Whip, a commercial airline pilot who pulls off a heroic feat of flying in a damaged plane, saving 98 lives on a flight carrying 106 people.
While the world begs to embrace him as a true American Hero, the everyman struggles with this label as he is forced to hold up to the scrutiny of an investigation that brings into question his behaviour the night before the doomed flight.
Here star Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis talk about the film.
Robert, what was it about Flight that made you want to direct it?
RZ: I just loved the screenplay when I read it. I just got it, loved it, and thought it was one of the most unique and bold pieces that I’ve read in forever.
It is an extraordinary script. What was it about it?
DW: You read scripts, and then you try to read certain scripts. And you’re already there for two hours and you’re like, “Man, I’m on page eight.” But every now and then, it’s far and few between, you run across a great script, and you know it right away.
And you feel privileged to be a part of it. And then when you find out you get the opportunity to do the play with Bob Zemeckis, I was like, “When do we start?”
Denzel, what kind of pleasure do you have playing this kind of rather gray character rather than black and white?
DW: I don’t, or I hope I don’t, ever play black and white characters. There are no absolutes.
But like I just said earlier, it was a joy to take this journey, and to expose myself, if you will, to go to some dark places also, but to be guided by such a strong screenplay and a strong director.
And how was it working with Mr Zemeckis?
DW: I hated it. I hated it. I never liked him. Every day, I told him I just didn’t, but I put up with him and here we are. No, it was good. It was great. We had a very good time, and it was very intense.
And Robert, you hadn’t worked before with Denzel before?
RZ: No. I agreed with all of Denzel’s choices that he made, every single one.
Denzel, you also are embodying someone who is dealing with a terrible addiction. How did you prepare for your role?
DW: One of the things I did is that I went online; you can YouTube drunks. You can, I’m serious. You just YouTube drunks, and as you YouTube drunks, there’s hundreds and hundreds of footage. And there are all kinds of them. And, I didn’t really want to get too much into the AA side of it, or how to be an alcoholic, because he didn’t think he was an alcoholic. He was a guy who drank.
So, in my mind, he’s like anyone who has one during the week, or he doesn’t realise how far he’s gone. There’s one thing on YouTube, where this guy, all he’s trying to do is put like a shoe on, a flip-flop on. Have you seen it? And it takes him five minutes. He slips, he’s trying to get the flip-flop, and even people come by, and help push it closer to him. I shouldn’t laugh, poor guy. God, I hope he got some help. He needed help real bad. But he thought he had accomplished something, and he knew there were people going around. So I actually used that. There’s a scene when I’m kind of out of my head, when Kelly comes in, I was watching videos of my son and my father. And all I try to do is put this bottle down. And it’s taking 20 minutes.
So did your YouTube plane crash?
DW: I’ve done, through the military, and whatever kinds of films that I’ve done, the research or the researchers, or the people in charge always said, say that you rely on your training. You don’t panic. So my whole thing was to get, the crazier it got, the quieter I wanted to get, the more into control I wanted to get, because, number one, worrying wasn’t going to help. So it’s going through these processes, and getting these things done. If this doesn’t work, then we go to plan B, we do this and getting everybody to just calm down. And somebody has to be the calm voice in that scene. Evans, the co-pilot, he’s going nuts. And Tamara is going nuts. So it’s just going about it quite methodically, what you need to do to save your behind.
Flight is in cinemas from today, certificate 15.