UnstoppableAn Interview with Denzel Washington & Rosario Dawson
by Damien D. Smith
November 7, 2010
Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Taking of Pelham 123, American Gangster) teams up again with director Tony Scott (True Romance, Man on Fire, Taking of Pelham 123) to tackle the train system in there new action film ‘Unstoppable.’
The film is about a runaway train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals. The film pits an engineer and his conductor in a race against time. They’re chasing the runaway train in a separate locomotive and need to bring it under control before it derails on a curve and causes a toxic spill that will decimate a town. Rosario Dawson’s character dispatches the developments to railroad executives and attempts to redirect the runaway train.
Blackfilm.com recently sat down with Mr. Washington and Rosario Dawson to discuss their recently pairing after working together on Spike Lee’s ‘He Got Game’ a few years ago.
blackfilm.com: How complicated was it getting the lingo down because? It seemed like that train terminology was difficult, where you able to understand everything?
Rosario Dawson: I think that falls into the research category that’s why I spent a lot of time talking to Mary Alexander who we had chosen to be the back ground story for Connie. A lot of the time was spent asking her “What does this mean tying off the air breaks, and what does it means if it’s not?” So whatever I was saying I knew what I was talking about which was really helpful. Also what was the energy behind it; is this really important, are does it sound technically really huge but in actuality it’s really simple don’t infusive that. (Laughing) So it was very helpful to know what you’re talking about.
blackfilm.com: Denzel can you talk about playing an average guy who was forced to doing heroic things?
Denzel Washington: What’s an average guy? That’s most of the rest of the world I don’t know what that really means so I don’t worry about that. There is nothing average about someone who can control a 100,000-ton machine and certainly risk his life to do it. See I’m the average guy what they did is not average but I don’t look at them that way, I don’t put them into a slot before I start they are slightly above average (Jokingly)
blackfilm: What were some interesting and helpful things you learned from the real workers at the rail yard?
Denzel Washington: It was great to get a chance to drive the trains everything on them hurts. If you step on a train and hit your knee it hurts. I was always more nervous because Chris and I was looking forward, and you have all these guys & women looking forward in our direction with all these things going 50mph behind them. We can see what’s coming and they couldn’t. Chris and I would be talking hoping they get down. It was great see all that I couldn’t image making this movie on green screen I don’t think it would’ve worked cause you wouldn’t know what getting hit by what we used to simulate rocks hitting Chris I in the face.
blackfilm.com: Denzel it seemed like it was you running on top of the train during all those action scenes was that a very challenging thing to do?
Denzel: I had seven stunt men (laughing) I remember early on in the production reading the script wonder why does the other guy get to do the fun action stuff. I want to be that guy that do all the fun stuff but when we started getting into the material. I began thinking maybe I should not be the guy who does that (laughing) yea that’s right Chris should be doing all this. We had very experienced stunt guys, they are the same guys that did Casino Royal they knew how to jump from thing to thing and Chris pissed me off because he was doing a lot of his own stunts the young punk (Laughing)
blackfilm.com: Denzel you and Tony Scott have worked with each other five times do you guys have a short hand on how you communicate with each other by know, and have you learned from him about the craft of film making?
Denzel Washington: Definitely! I’ve learned and know that what he does is make films, and I’ve directed a couple of films it has nothing to do with what he’s doing. I’ve learned so much from him, and it like this we’ve done some many films together it’s a short hand. He knows how I like to work, and I know what he likes to do. For example he knows I like a lot of research so he is going to have a ton of stuff before we start production things like that. Also Rosario and I have worked together twice as well; I think we have a short hand (Joking).
Rosario Dawson: I will say the same thing as well, I am still learning from you darling (laughing), and by the way I did my own stunts I know that you can tell.
blackfilm.com: Rosario how was it working with Denzel this time?
Rosario Dawson: In the one scene that we had together it was brilliant.
Denzel Washington: We never talked together except when we talked on the phone.
blackfilm.com: Well, you two kiss as the end.
Denzel Washington: We talked then but not for long (laughing).
Rosario Dawson: It’s interesting because the last film we did together we had only one scene together and it’s the same thing on this one. I don’t know if I need to talk to you (Denzel) are Tony about this so maybe on the next one we could have at least a couple more scenes together because that would be really nice. It’s an amazing and odd film to watch because I feel one the interest things to watch is something Tony is a genius at having a great fun ride in a action film, but you actually care about everybody in the film. The time is taken to really establish the different type of personalities there and give them sometimes-mundane conversations. It’s deeply connecting you to carrying about these characters and that is rare in an action film of this kind. I think it’s amazing how Tony could portray the relationship between Frank and Connie, and it comes together at the end of the film.
blackfilm.com: Rosario your character is very stress out but there is a sense of calmness she has, we know you practice Yoga did that have any connection to your performance?
Rosario: I actually think it was the alcohol that Tony would dazzle me with every night (laughing). No I think it was something really amazing with what I had to play with Connie, and there are a lot of stereotypes that go with a women in a so-called “mans world”. Also on how they view a woman in a high position of power and how she should behave. I think we walked that line pretty well and we where very clear on how we wanted Connie to come across as, and that was someone very capable and sensible. At the end of the film you look at her as not being a woman in the job but as just the right person for the situation.
blackfilm.com: During the film you see Connie go into the bathroom and it reveal how she is really feeling. That scene was carefully put in there it gave you the viewers more access to all the panic and what was actually going on inside of here.
Rosario: Also pulling my hair up, pulling it down we had whole conversation about which scenes we should do it in. Everything physically was to express the frustration of being in the controller room miles away from where the action is. I just wanted to show no matter how cool she was if she could propel herself on to the train and stop it she would. That’s where the octopus arms come from and being on the phones to make those blinking lights go the way she wanted them to. There was no time to freak out protocol wise.
UNSTOPPABLE hits theaters on November 12, 2010