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Denzel: No Apologies for 'Training Day'

ByABC News
September 4, 2001, 7:35 PM

Sept. 4, V E N I C E, Italy — -- Denzel Washington takes a detour to the dark side playing a hard-bitten LAPD narcotics detective in Training Day, which had its world premiere over the weekend.

(A screening at the Toronto Film Festival will follow before the film hits U.S. theaters nationwide on Sept. 21.) The charismatic Oscar®-winner flew in from Cleveland where he's at work on his yet-to-be-titled directorial debut to attend the Venice unveiling.

Washington retains the aura of a saintly Hollywood superstar despite the diversity of his roles in such films as The Hurricane, Cry Freedom, Glory, and Remember the Titans. And he says that he knows some moviegoers will be turned off by the decidedly dubious morality of his Training character, who takes a unique approach to breaking in his straight-arrow partner, played by slacker icon Ethan Hawke.

"I've always said this and I guess I've proven it now, but I've always done what pleases me," a good-humored Washington told media members, buoyed by a positive reception that included Oscar whisperings. "I like this role and am positive some people won't like it. I enjoyed it as much as any other role I've played."

The star noted that he has another film ready for release, John Q, "which I actually made before Training Day, and it comes out next year. [My character is] a very sweet guy, a positive family man. One of my producing partners said, 'If they don't like you in Training Day, John Q can be your apology to your public.' But I don't really care about that.

"I like my fans," he laughed, "but I'm not here to please the public; [I'm here to] do films that stir my interest."

Waking Life Director Not Trolling for Oscars

Hawke, who attended the Training Day premiere with noticeably pregnant wife Uma Thurman, also appears in Richard Linklater's Waking Life, one of two American films competing for the Gold Lion, the Venice festival's highest honor. The offbeat film, which also features director Steven Soderbergh, was shot conventionally on digital video and then fed into a computer software program where 30 artists colored the images to make an animated film.