The Big Picture
- Director Antoine Fuqua contemplated using de-aging technology on Denzel Washington for The Equalizer 3 or a potential prequel project, exploring the younger version of Washington’s character.
- Previous attempts at de-aging in films received mixed reviews, but advancements in technology have made it more successful, as seen in films like Captain Marvel and The Irishman.
- As the technology improves, the question arises whether Hollywood should continue de-aging actors, potentially reducing opportunities for new talent.
Denzel Washington may be the next Hollywood star to be digitally de-aged. Director Antoine Fuqua has pondered de-aging his frequent collaborator for a future Equalizer project. In a new interview with NME, Fuqua reveals that he was sufficiently impressed by the de-aging technology that he pondered using it in a flashback sequence – or even making an Equalizer prequel movie, even though the upcoming Equalizer 3 is said to be the final installment of the franchise.
“I definitely thought about it a lot,” Fuqua explained “Especially now with the new technology and the AI and all of that kind of stuff…is there a story to be told about how [Robert McCall, Washington’s Equalizer character] became this person – the younger version. I’ve had that conversation with [Equalizer co-writer] Richard Wenk quite a bit”. One caveat, however – Fuqua has yet to discuss the project with Washington, who may or may not be amenable to it. Says Fuqua, “It’s all so fresh and new. I’m still watching [the technology]. I’ve watched Harrison Ford’s film and I know there’s other movies coming out. I think Sony has one coming out with Tom Hanks soon. And I’m hearing the technology is getting better and better and better. So I’m kind of watching it to see where it goes”.
Digital De-Aging: The Fountain of Youth For Aging Franchises?
Early attempts at de-aging were made in Tron: Legacy with Jeff Bridges‘ character, and X-Men: The Last Stand, with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan playing younger versions of Professor X and Magneto – although reviews were mixed, with some finding the resulting product creepy and inhuman. As time has passed and technology has improved, de-aging has become more commonplace, and more successful; Samuel L. Jackson was entirely de-aged during 2019’s ’90s-set Captain Marvel, and Mark Hamill has turned up as a de-aged Luke Skywalker multiple times on Star Wars TV series.
Even Martin Scorsese used the technology extensively for flashback sequences in his 2019 crime epic The Irishman. This year, the technology was showcased in the bombastic, WWII-set opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. As the technology improves, it becomes clear that Hollywood can successfully de-age actors, so the question now is, should they? As Collider’s Samuel Williamson asks, “Do we want to end up in a world where we see fewer new faces just to keep de-aging and using virtual actors?”
The Equalizer 3, which is due in theaters early next month, sees Washington’s retired intelligence operative-turned-freelance do-gooder retiring to Italy, only to run afoul of the Sicilian Mafia. The film also stars Dakota Fanning (reuniting her with Washington, her Man on Fire co-star), Eugenio Mastrandrea (From Scratch), David Denman (Brightburn), and Sonia Ben Ammar (Scream).
The Equalizer 3 opens in theaters on September 1, 2023. Stay tuned to Collider for future updates, and watch Collider’s interview with Fuqua about Equalizer 2 below.
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