'Equalizer 3': Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington Cement Their Legacy Among Cinema’s Elite Duos

In an interview with BET, director Antoine Fuqua reveals the most challenging part about filming the final installment of the iconic movie.

When you think of the greatest director-actor duos in the history of cinema, it’s natural for pairings like Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro (10 films) to come to mind, or maybe Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson (6). But in the third and final installment of the Equalizer franchise, Equalizer 3, arriving Sept. 1, director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington make a strong case for considering them among the “GOATt” director-actor pairings, too.

Equalizer 3 marks the fifth film the twosome have made together––one of which, of course, is Training Day, which won Washington his first and only Best Actor Oscar––and with its breathtaking views of Southern Italy as well as Denzel ‘Denzel’ing’ as well as ever, Fuqua and Washington finish the trilogy leaving an indelible mark on the action genre.

“We’ve given it everything we have,” Fuqua tells BET in a recent interview. “Robert McCall [Washington’s character] is an interesting guy. I don't know what else you  can do with Robert McCall.”

Director's Cut: Behind The Curtain With Theater Legend Kenny Leon

This interaction of the triptych has former government assassin Robert McCall working to leave his past behind and settle into an easy carefree life in the bucolic setting. Yet trouble has a strange way of finding Robert, and try as he might to say “Arrivederci!” to busting heads open, it quickly becomes apparent he is not going to spend his days sipping drinks from little cups in cafes as he hoped. Crime flourishes in the quaint, cobblestoned, street-lined village Robert now calls home, and the deadly assassin learns there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from––including his friendly shopkeep pals who are under constant harassment from Mafia thugs. Unable to watch violence and chaos reign unchecked, Robert does what Robert does best: bring the pain.

Fuqua’s directorial talents seem at their height; Equalizer 3 is a visual delight, with sweeping, stunning shots of the centuries-old region creating a sense of timelessness and danger thanks to the old-school mafia associations the setting conjures. Fuqua said that the setting is, in its own way, a character in Equalizer 3 as the sense of place speaks to what’s on Robert’s heart and mind now. “I think the first one was a little slicker,” he said, speaking of the franchise’s first 2014 iteration. “That was a much more external story; he was helping others. The second one [2018] is about making peace with the past, and then this one is a much more personal, internal journey. He’s going through physical and mental motions.”

Packed with iconic imagery of churches, statues, and structures that have endured for thousands of years, Equalizer 3 subtly parallels this now-classic hero and the classics that informed modernity. Shooting took six months, Fuqua said, time enough for him to soak up the vibes of the region, which has long been Washington’s favorite place to retreat. “I really wanted to capture it like a painting–– the textures, colors, and things like that. I wanted to feel modern but still like an old painting.”

While it might be reasonable to assume the hardest part of shooting Equalizer 3 would be the intense action scenes, highly choreographed fight sequences, or maybe the emotional, behind-the-scenes heaviness involved with saying goodbye to a character that’s been part of Fuqua and Washington’s life for ten years, the director said the most difficult part was the actual production. “The biggest challenge was filming in a foreign country, in a small fishing village that’s not set for filmmaking,” he said. “We had to bring everything in, the roads are very narrow, so it takes a little longer, you have to slow down. The church [seen in the film] was 700 steps up. It was very hot, and we had [the challenge of] the language.”

Complexities aside, the backdrop makes for the perfect place to conclude the story. “I think we've gone as far as we can go,” he said. “Robert McCall has found some peace, he found a home. Let’s let him sail away on the Mediterranean.”

Equalizer 3 premieres Sept. 1 in theaters.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.