The only thing better than Denzel Washington saving the day, is the brooding, alter ego, butt-kicking Denzel, and there is plenty of that in his new action thriller Safe House. Washington plays Tobin Frost, the most dangerous renegade from the CIA who resurfaces after a decade on the run. When mercenaries attack the South African safe house he is remanded to, a rookie operative (Ryan Reynolds) escapes with him. The unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. I sat down with the always brilliant Mr. Washington to talk about the film and shooting on location in South Africa.
Your character in this film is not a nice guy. I think that Tobin Frost has been so isolated for so long, he doesn’t know how to feel. He doesn’t have feelings. He just knows how to use. He has no family, no relationships.
Any redeeming qualities? He just drinks good wine.
Give me a little bit of the back-story on Frost. [He’s an] ex CIA rogue agent who has sort of sold his soul for money and power. I think in his mind he wants to get back at the CIA or the system in general and is willing to do anything to do that.
You had to go deep and dark in researching for this role. How did you prepare to play Frost? Scott Stuber (a producer on the film) gave me some great books to read one of them, which was The Sociopath Next Door that sort of became my bible that I would refer to in developing the character. I felt he was a sociopath.
The film takes place in South Africa, what was it like shooting on location and how does that enhance the movie? I loved it, and I’m glad that Daniel (director Daniel Espinosa) wanted to do that to get the real texture and feeling to shoot in the townships. That’s one of the great things about Cape Town, it’s so diverse from downtown to the townships to the mountains to the ocean it’s a very unique place; so, I really, really enjoyed doing that.
Your co-star in the film is one of my favorites Ryan Reynolds. How was it working with him for the first time? Ryan’s contemporary, and Daniel were really set on him, and I just trusted him on that. Ryan is a very good actor who works very hard as well, and we just had good chemistry. He has an inherent innocence that I think was right for the part.
What can audiences expect when they go see Safe House? There’s a lot of action, but there’s also psychological jousting, beautiful locations in South Africa and great characters and great actors playing the characters, and I think the style of the film is very unique.
Safe House opens in theatres nationwide this week. The film is rated R for violence and language.