Denzel Washington to Direct & Star in Adaptation of Stage Play 'Fences'
While he's obviously best known as an actor, Denzel Washington has actually directed twice before in his career, helming the small dramas Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters. It's been six years since he directed a movie, but it looks like the current Best Actor Oscar nominee is lining up a new project, because he told Empire that he'll direct and star in a film adaptation of August Wilson's stage play Fences. Washington is already familiar with the role, having won a Tony Award for his stage performance opposite Viola Davis on Broadway in 2010, so it should be a natural transition to bring the story from stage to screen.
Here's what Washington said to Empire, speaking about his passion for the material:
"I love the theatre, directing is my second love and acting is my third, and I want to do all three…[Fences] reawakened me about the work, and my commitment to the work. I said to myself: 'I've got to dig deeper'. The reason I did Fences is that Scott Rudin sent me the script August Wilson wrote - the only one of his plays that he wrote as a screenplay - to act and direct. I really do want to direct this."
Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, Fences centers on 53-year-old Troy Maxon (Washington), a sanitation employee who once aspired to be a professional baseball player and now faces daily discrimination while coming to terms with his lost ambitions. James Earl Jones actually originated the role and also won a Tony for his performance back in the late 1980s, so there's clearly the potential for some great character work here. There's no timetable set up for this project as of yet, but with Washington about to start production on The Equalizer in May and bounce right into press rounds for his action movie 2 Guns afterwards, it looks like Fences will have to hope for a fall shoot at the earliest.