Why Denzel Washington Saddled Up for His First Western in The Magnificent Seven

Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven
Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven

Denzel Washington on Making His First Western in The Magnificent Seven

He’s played cops, soldiers, a boxer, a civil rights figure and a preacher, but not, as far as Denzel Washington could recall, a cowboy. So when the script for “The Magnificent Seven” came along, the actor couldn’t help but be intrigued.

“Never been asked, that I can remember, to be in a Western,” the actor tells Made in Hollywood reporter Patrick Stinson.

The only issue was how anybody could reboot the popular 1960 version, starring Steve McQueen, about seven gunfighters hired to defend a Mexican peasant village. With Washington’s “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua at the helm, his decision to star became an easy one.

“People have no idea what the original ‘Training Day’ script was like,” says Washington. “It was more like ‘Lethal Weapon’ until he” — Fuqua — “got ahold of it and then it turned into something completely authentic and original. And I knew that he’d find a way. All I have to do is get on this horse and see what he comes up with.”

Denzel Washington Trained for Four Months on a Horse for The Magnificent Seven

Washington trained for four months on that horse, and by the time the cameras, rolled, he felt comfortable in the saddle.

“After awhile, I enjoyed it,” he says, then quickly adds: “I haven’t been on one since the last day of shooting.”

Also starring Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier and Haley Bennett, “The Magnificent Seven” stands out for its diversity at a time when Hollywood is under fire for

its casting decisions.

But Fuqua insists that was never the goal.

“I was just trying to get a great cast,” says Fuqua. “I had a dream cast, which I got. Then it was like: Oh, yeah, everybody’s a little different. That’s not what we were thinking about. We were just trying to think about how to make the best film. Honestly, we’re hearing more about it now than when we were making it.  … It’s sort of hitting us now more.”