Denzel Washington takes humble turn in "Pelham"

Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:45pm EDT
 
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Denzel Washington has played soldiers, gangsters and tough cops, but in crime drama "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" opening on Friday, the actor wanted to strike a more humble pose as a lowly subway dispatcher who must save passengers on a hijacked train.

Walter Garber's ordinary day turns hellish when a criminal played by John Travolta takes over a train filled with commuters, and Garber must negotiate for their freedom.

Washington told reporters recently that to play Garber, a kind of everyman, he simply went to "the deli."

"Not New Delhi, the deli," Washington joked. "Just ate a lot and kept getting smaller and smaller sweaters to wear and spilled coffee on myself."

Washington has played many standout characters in his long career. He won Oscars for his roles as a U.S. Civil War soldier in "Glory" and a corrupt cop in "Training Day." More recently, he was a drug kingpin in 2007's "American Gangster" and a police detective in 2006 film "Inside Man."

Washington said he was concerned about comparisons to "Inside Man," where his character also negotiated for the release of hostages, and he wanted this role to be different.

"I just liked the idea when they hand him a gun that he had never held one before, that he was an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation," Washington said.

"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" is a remake of a 1974 film of the same name that starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw.   Continued...

 
<p>Cast member Denzel Washington waves at the premiere of the movie "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" at the Mann Village theatre in Los Angeles June 4, 2009. The movie opens in the U.S. on June 12. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>