Denzel Washington Says Bad Upbringing, Lack of Father Figures is Reason Why Many Young Men End Up in Jail

Denzel Washington Says Bad Upbringing, Lack of Father Figures is Reason Why Many Young Men End Up in Jail

nydailynews.com

In “Roman J. Israel, Esq.Denzel Washington plays an idealistic defense attorney whose beliefs are tested when he joins a new law firm.

The Oscar winner says making the film did not make him more cynical about the justice system and, when asked about the prison-industrial complex, the “Malcolm X” star offered a surprising take.

“It starts at the home,” he told reporters at the film’s downtown New York premiere. “It starts at home.”

When prodded to expand on his answer, the 62-year-old Mount Vernon native replied: “It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure.

Denzel Washington’s ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ lacks focus — review

“So you know I can’t blame the system,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.”

Washington came into the project with an insider’s edge on writer-director Dan Gilroy; he spars at the same gym as Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in Gilroy’s critically acclaimed 2014 film “Nightcrawler,” and the actor gave Washington a full briefing on Gilroy.

“I got to learn a little bit about Dan in advance, and to see the great collaboration they had together,” Washington explained. “So it was easy, it was seamless and it was invigorating.”

(Washington declined to answer questions as to whether he or Gyllenhaal would win in the boxing ring).

Denzel Washington took novel approach for ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’

movie handout - from film site

The role of Roman Israel — a legal savant — is certainly a departure for the actor.

The Oscar winner has played a lawyer before (“Philadelphia”), but his reasons for taking on this role weren’t so much because he wanted to return to a courtroom.

“It really didn’t have much to do with that,” he said. “It was just that Dan wrote a good script, a good story, the guy happened to be a lawyer. Law wasn’t the thing that attracted me to the story.”

Roman Israel — a legal savant — is certainly a departure for the actor. Washington told the Daily News that he based the character’s eccentricities on those of a friend’s son who is on the autism spectrum.

“He knew all the laws and everything, so I did a lot of research on Asperger’s, and the spectrum, and went in that direction,” he revealed.

Washington says he is not worrying about what his fans will make of this film.

“I just do what I do,” the “Training Day” star said. “I can’t be concerned. I don’t know what they’re going to think, so that’s not something that comes into my head. . . . If it’s something I’m interested in, then I do it if I can, and we’ll find out what they think about it.”

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