Denzel Washington
Credit: Denzel Washington: Sidney Baldwin

Washington wasn?t looking to direct a movie. But five or six years ago, a script came across his desk, and the true story intrigued him: As a young sailor, Fisher (Luke) grappled with his demons, including child abuse. With the help of his girlfriend (Bryant) and a Navy psychiatrist (Washington), he was able to confront the past. Washington?s interest didn?t translate into an immediate go for the Fox Searchlight project. Fisher, a former security guard on the Sony lot, rewrote his script about 70 times, while Washington monitored its progress?and made more movies. The actor was filming ”John Q.” when studio honcho Peter Rice nailed him down. ”He?s got a napkin from the Four Seasons, saying: ‘I?ll do this picture after Training Day,”’ says Washington.

Finding the person to play Fisher proved equally circuitous. After a multicity search, they found Luke, 26, who worked at the Sony gift shop. ”He?s got a good spirit,” Washington says. ”He?s good friends with Antwone, and to his credit, he didn?t tell me.” For his part, Washington says he enjoyed his directorial debut. ”I like the collaboration,” he says. Now, the actor-director is looking for another project to lens: ”I?m hooked.”

THE LOWDOWN Washington?s had luck with biopics before — ”Remember the Titans,” ”Hurricane,” ”Malcolm X.”

Antwone Fisher
  • Movie
  • 120 minutes