Denzel Washington has starred in many memorable roles, but perhaps none are more legendary than his Oscar-winning performance in Training Day. According to Washington, though, a large part of his role in the film came via improvised dialogue.
Speaking during a recent appearance on BBC’s The Graham Norton Show to promote his recently released film The Tragedy of Macbeth, Washington spoke about his part in the legendary 2001 movie and revealed that he improvised a large portion of the role.
“A lot,” Washington said when asked how much of his role he improvised. “I don’t know, 40 percent, 30 percent. Or, I added things. I shouldn’t say improvised it from beginning through end … but I was sort of figuring it out as I went along.”
While Washington didn’t reveal just what parts of the film were improvised, earlier interviews from Antoine Fuqua, the director of the film, note that the character’s most iconic moment in the film was mostly improv. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2019, Fuqua revealed that Washington had improvised mostly all of his famous “King Kong” speech from the film.
“The King Kong moment came out of Denzel,” said Fuqua at the time. “I remember that moment because we were doing the scene, and he just started going off. I remember looking at the cameraman and saying, ‘I hope you got that because I don’t think we’re going to get that again.’ Denzel came over to me and goes, ‘Whoo, I don’t know where that came from.’ It was exhausting for him. You saw him just go there in that place.”
Washington’s improvisation worked out well for the actor, as he was rewarded for his work with his second Academy Award for Best Actor thanks to his role. While Washington likely wasn’t doing any improvising in The Tragedy of Macbeth, the actor still turned out a praiseworthy performance and one that might earn him yet another Academy Award nomination as a result.