In case you were operating under the assumption that Denzel Washington was not one of the biggest badasses in Hollywood today, let me show you why you’re wrong.

NY Mag recently caught up with Washington, Ryan Reynolds and Robert Patrick to discuss their upcoming action movie ‘Safe House’. In the film, Reynolds plays an inexperienced CIA agent tasked with watching over an infamous rogue agent, played by Washington. During an interrogation sequence, Washington’s character gets waterboarded.


Director Daniel Espinosa tells that once Denzel was to be swapped out with his stunt man, the Oscar-winning actor refused. “I wanted to see what it would be like.” Washington explains. “It’s strange. You can’t breathe in, because the water comes in, and it’s filling up your mouth. And that was just one time for a short time. Imagine having that done for 20, 30 seconds? You will give up the answers! You may not necessarily tell the truth, but you will tell [your captors] whatever they want to hear.”

The experience wasn’t only difficult for Washington, as Robert Patrick, the one who administers the torture, explains. “It’s a brutal, brutal scene, and I wanted to work with Denzel, and it’s a world I know a lot about. And then to find out what we had to do to him, and that he was willing to go through with it? It shocked me, because the more I checked it out, the convulsions, body parts breaking — arms, legs, as you convulse, trying to get out from the restraints — and the psychological damage that was done, I just said, ‘To hell with it, I would never do that.’”

‘Safe House’ also stars Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga, and  it opens this week.

  • Carry

    Volunteering to be water boarded just goes to prove that Denzel Washington is willing to take his work as an actor to an extreme! I love movies and it’s one thing to act out being tortured, but to actually film real torture is surprising. I recently watched, “The Inspiring Career of Denzel Washington,” on my job’s site, It’s free to watch without signing in, but it definitely brings into perspective how devoted he is to acting and why he would be one of the few to undergo real torture for the sake of storytelling.

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