Denzel Washington says he gleaned everything from Joel Coen on filmmaking
Denzel Washington says he learned some valuable lessons on directing from Joel Coen.
The Oscar-winning actor’s revelation comes against the backdrop of the 2021 historical thriller The Tragedy of Macbeth, in which Washington plays the titular character, earning critical acclaim and a high approval rating.
“Everything. I was stealing too,” the actor replied when asked by Steve Weintraub “maybe you’re gleaning a little bit of what he’s (Joel Coen) doing to maybe to steal from it for the next thing you direct. What did you learn working with Joel that you want to take with you as a director?”
In the interview published by Collider.com, Washington replies, “Everything. I was stealing too. I mean, he’s a master. So you wonder sometime, why over here? I remember asking him one time he was setting up a shot and I wasn’t in it. I had my directors hat on, because I wasn’t in that part of the scene. So I said, “Now, I noticed you put the camera down here, like a lower angle. Are you making a statement? Is that a psychological thing? Or why’d you put the camera so low?” He said, “Actually I just like the ceiling.” I was like, “You like the ceiling?” He said, “Yeah, look up.” I was like, “Oh yeah.” He said, “Yeah, I like the way the ceiling looked.” I said, “So it was as simple as that?”
Basically what he said was, he didn’t say this word for word, but what I got from it was, it was as simple as that now, because he had done everything else. He was prepared. He had thought about it every way. He storyboarded, he thought about every angle and then at that moment he said, “No, I like this.” So he had done the work, but then he was still open to improvisation or another way of looking at it, reinterpreting, the actor added.
Besides Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth, stars Frances McDormand, who has produced the movie, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, Kathryn Hunter, and Brendan Gleeson.
Peter Bradshaw wrote in The Guardian, “Director Joel Coen, working for once without brother Ethan, has delivered a stark monochrome nightmare, refrigerated to an icy coldness. With Shakespeare’s text cut right back, it’s a version that brings us back to the language by framing the drama in theatrical, stylised ways: an agoraphobic ordeal in which bodies and faces loom up with tin-tack sharpness out of the creamy-white fog.”
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