The star of such blockbusters as Man On Fire, Training Day, Fallen and Malcolm X, he is well used to being comfortably the biggest name on every set.
However on his latest film, the Oscar-winning actor reckons he’s playing second fiddle to a real heavyweight.
“The train is the star of Unstoppable. We’re just hanging off the side,” he grinned.
“But it’s ok, we got paid more than the train.”
Unstoppable is Denzel’s fifth film with British director Tony Scott. It involves a race against time, a runaway train and Denzel trying to save everyone.
Sounds familiar? That’s because Denzel was in another rail thriller last year, saving women and children from the evil terrorist played by John Travolta in The Taking Of Pelham 123, directed by none other than train enthusiast Tony Scott.
Even Denzel admits he thought twice before getting on board so soon.
“I said, ‘Tony, two train movies?’ But he said, ‘No –– it’s not the same, Denzel, it’s not the same’.”
For a start, Unstoppable is based on the true story of a runaway train which barrelled through northern Ohio in 2001 with 47 rail carriages and no one behind the wheel. The only hope of preventing a disaster lay with a train driver and conductor, who bravely chased after it.
“I met the person on whom my character is based,” explained Denzel.
“I also learned to drive the trains –– and I can still do it!”
As well as getting behind the wheel, the 55-year-old performed many of his own stunts in the film, including a dazzling, dangerous run across the top. of the train cars.
The actor was an athlete in his younger days and stays in shape by boxing, which he took up when training for his Oscar-nominated role as middleweight champion Rubin “Hurricane” Carter in The Hurricane.
However, Washington wasn’t too happy about the idea of running along a speeding train –– because he is scared of heights.
“Heights didn’t use to bother me, it’s only since I’ve been in the movie business,” he revealed.
Despite his phobia, he says he was more frightened of being called a chicken, so he decided to climb aboard.
“I’ve got an ego,” he explained. “I don’t want to be having a conversation with you asking me, ‘So I heard you were afraid to do the stunt?’”
Even though he is now in his mid-50s, Denzel is still considered a sex symbol, and he has no plans to retire from the job. And, oddly enough, he regards 88-year-old Betty White, former star of The Golden Girls, as his role model.
Betty started appearing on TV and in the movies more than 50 years ago –– and is still appearing in comedies like You Again and The Proposal.
“I don’t know exactly how old Betty is now but look at her today, she’s more popular than ever,” grins Denzel. –– Dailyrecord.