Denzel Washington To Direct Fences

Exclusive: On the drama and Safe House 2

Denzel Washington, Safe House

When Empire's podcast team sat down to talk Flight with Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis, the result was a fascinating, wide-ranging chat about their Oscar-nominated drama. But Washington also shared some news about two projects that look likely to occupy him in the near future, including the mooted Safe House sequel/prequel and a third directorial project to follow up **Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters**.

First up, does he plan to step up his directorial output as he gets older? "Absolutely. [But] the more I say I want to direct, the more Flights show up! I love the theatre, directing is my second love and acting is my third, and I want to do all three."

Lined up, Washington revealed, is a combination of the three: an adaptation of August Wilson's stage play Fences. The play tackles the story of Troy Maxon, a Pittsburgh sanitation employee who once dreamt of a baseball career only to be left facing down daily discrimination in a more menial line of work, while grappling with his lost ambitions.

Denzel Washington on stage in Fences with Viola Davis

It's a role first made famous by James Earl Jones and Washington himself, with the latter picking up a Tony for after a 12 week Broadway run in 2010. "It reawakened me about the work, and my commitment to the work. I said to myself: 'I've got to dig deeper'. The reason I did Fences is that Scott Rudin sent me the script August Wilson wrote - the only one of his plays that he wrote as a screenplay - to act and direct. I really do want to direct this." (click to the 00:29:51 mark below)

He was more circumspect about the planned Safe House 2, an -equel that the thriller's screenwriter David Guggenheim is currently working on. [Spoiler warning] "They're writing it but... hmm... we'll see." Well, isn't he technically dead? "That's what I said. I said: 'I think he's dead.'" (Skip to 00:15:00)

Safe House did a respectable $202m worldwide; enough to persuade studio execs to greenlight a second dose of off-the-grid spy business. Washington also quashed rumours linking Nicolas Winding Refn with The Equalizer reboot: "We met with him but he's not attached."

Flight is out on February 1.