‘Training Day’ Director Antoine Fuqua Once Shared He Would’ve Cast Denzel Washington as Black Panther
Antoine Fuqua once shared who he would’ve considered for his ‘Black Panther’ film
Ryan Coogler turned out to be the perfect choice to direct Black Panther. His film was both critically acclaimed, and one of the highest grossing superhero movies in cinema history. But before Coogler was brought on board, there was a point in time when Fuqua was being looked at for the project. Fuqua asserted he was in consideration years ago, perhaps before Marvel’s film studio was even a thing. But superhero movies weren’t up his alley.
“I think God has a path for us all,” he once said on The Stephen A. Smith Show. “You know, there was a lot of talk a while ago about me doing Black Panther, but that was way before it was popular to be black in Hollywood. And, you know, the cartoon version of it wasn’t appealing to me. You know, I just grew up watching Apocalypse Now and Goodfellas and Mean Streets and those type of films. I like things a little more gritty and grounded. I believe that opportunity wasn’t missed. ’cause it wasn’t for me. It was for Ryan Coogler. And Ryan killed it.”
But whereas Marvel picked the late Chadwick Boseman to portray Black Panther, Fuqua might’ve gone a different route.
“With the right script, absolutely! As for casting, I’d always go straight for Denzel, if you’re talking about a certain type of character,” Fuqua said in a 2013 interview with The Urban Daily. “Jamie Foxx, Wesley Snipes, Will Smith – we’ve got a handful of guys who are very powerful actors. We have lots of talented African-American actors we’ve never even heard of.”
Denzel Washington once shared that he cried watching ‘Black Panther’
Watching Black Panther was an emotional experience for Washington. The Oscar-winner couldn’t help reflect on his own career when seeing the work done by Boseman and Coogler.
“Black Panther, I shed a tear. I was sitting in there — I ran into Chad and Ryan before the movie started, it was their premiere, or the screening in New York, and just talking to them and they went into the movie — and the 40 years I’ve been in this game came back to me,” Washington once told Joe.
Washington didn’t take for granted that films like Black Panther perhaps wouldn’t be possible without his and other actors’ influence.
“I said, ‘Man, look at these young boys, man.’ And I actually — I just started [crying],” Washington said. “I was like, whew. You know, Sidney, to now? And I’m in the gap — me and many others — are in the gap, but it was like, man. I felt like the third leg of the relay race. Like, ‘here, go.’ Now, I ran behind them — I’m still running. But I was like, man, they gone. They’re gone.”
Washington’s effect on Boseman went way back before he was even an established actor. When receiving his American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Boseman briefly touched on Washington paying his tuition for acting school.
“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” Boseman said. “Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet.”
Boseman further credited Washington for the reason Black Panther finally made it to theaters.
“There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington,” Boseman said. “And not just because of me, but my whole cast – that generation – stands on your shoulders.”