For his latest film, Roman J. Isreal, Esq, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington plays the titular quixotic attorney with a taste for turkey bacon donuts. Roman is brilliant but awkward, devoting his brain power to retaining endless legal information, which leaves little left for social niceties. He is the definition of “no filter,” exercising an uncompromising and combative approach to defending his clients.
The film also stars Carmen Ejogo, playing a social activist named Maya who forms a kinship with Roman over his need to rehabilitate the criminal justice system. The two take a very grassroots method to working for their people, which made us think of another modern day activist, Colin Kaepernick.
“He’d represent him. I don’t know what advice he’d give. I think from watching the movie Kaepernick may not want him to represent him,” Washington says with a chuckle. “But I think they’d be kindred spirits. This young man has made the sacrifice and paid the price. So did Roman.”
“I don’t think Colin needs too much advice to be honest,” says Ejogo. "I think he’s on the right path and knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s on the right side of history.”
Roman is a throwback in every sense of the world, sporting a 'fro right out of the '70s and harbors chivalrous sensibilities that are well-intentioned but dated.
“One thing experience has taught me, one thing I know for sure about women is that I don’t know anything,” Washington jokes. “So don’t try to figure them out, but be a gentleman. There’s nothing wrong with that…I don’t think you can lose being a gentleman. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, humility is thinking of yourself…less.”
But there is one area where Washington thinks very highly of himself, his style. Roman’s trademark 'fro has drawn comparisons to The Roots frontman Questlove, but Denzel is not having it.
“I had that 'fro long [ago]…Questlove wasn’t even born when I had a 'fro like that. Don’t put it on no Questlove. Even tho I did have my afro pic, Questlove got that FROM Roman. Roman was first.”
Roman J. Isreal is in theaters nationwide on November 22!