‘Denzel Was Just Vicious In That Movie’: ‘Training Day’ Director Antoine Fuqua Says Denzel Washington Went Off Script with His Infamous ‘King Kong’ Scene

2001’s “Training Day” is hands down one of Denzel Washington‘s best movies to date. The film was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who has also directed several other films starring Washington.

In addition to the “Equalizer” trilogy, Fuqua and Washington have collaborated on five movies together, including 2006’s “The Magnificent 7.”

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Antoine Fuqua says that Denzel Washington improvised his infamous "King Kong" monologue in "Training Day."
Antoine Fuqua (left) says Denzel Washington (right) improvised his infamous “King Kong” monologue in “Training Day.” (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images, Taylor Hill/WireImage)

In a recent interview on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Fuqua told Eisen that the first time he met Washington at a hotel to discuss the making of “Training Day.”

“Denzel’s intense, man, you know? I was a little nervous sitting down with Denzel about the movie,” said Fuqua, “and we sat down and what was great about Denzel was we didn’t talk much about the movie.”

He said they talked about “life,” “God,” “the streets,” and other things so Denzel could get a “sense of me just as a man, as a person.”

Fuqua said after their two-hour talk, Washington told him, “Let’s do it.” He went on to explain that Washington was attached to the film but was looking for “the right director.” He claims Washington’s wife, Pauletta, “introduced” the two years ago and later “initiated” conversations about “Training Day.”

In a follow-up meeting, Fuqua and the “Malcolm X” star two had dinner with some real-life cops and street gang members so that they could flesh out the movie’s synopsis and characters.

The director said that once Washington began to get more in tune with his role as Detective Alonzo Harris, he started to do little things like changing his mannerisms and adding lines. In early scenes of the movie, Alonzo can be seen riding in the car with rookie cop Jake Hoyt, played by actor Ethan Hawke.

Fuqua revealed that Washington improvised when he said “my n—a” in the car during rehearsals.

“When he said that, I was like, that, that’s Alonzo,” said Fuqua. “He ad-libbed that moment in the beginning. Denzel just said it and the whole room froze.”

The accomplished filmmaker said it was then that he knew Washington was going to “put a whole different twist on this guy.”

“What really put the icing on it was King Kong. Denzel was just vicious in that movie. He was charming, he was seductive, but he was vicious. And when we shot that scene, ‘King Kong,’ that was him. That was all him.”

“King Kong” became one of the most memorable lines in the film. When Eisen asked if Fuqua meant that Washington came up with his own inflection, and Fuqua told him that Washington “came up with the lines.”

Fuqua said Washington came up to him after shooting the scene “and said, I don’t even know where that came from.”

The “Emancipation” director shared the same backstory in a 2018 interview, also on “The Rich Eisen Show,” in a recently resurfaced clip online. After finding out the lines were improvised, and done in one take, fans began talking about how great an actor Washington is.

“This is the greatest monologue of our generation.”

“The will never be another Denzel Washington. I’m glad we hold him in such high regard while he’s here.”

“Denzel is one of the greatest actors we’ve ever seen.”

“Am the only one who felt like after just watching this, it became even more powerful like I’m seeing it for the first time?!?! Denzel is a living legend my goodness!”

Watch the Full Video Here.

Even though the scene ended up helping Washington win his first Academy Award for Best Actor, Fuqua almost left it on the cutting room floor. The director said the one take they got was slightly out of focus because of the camera they were using at the time.

His film editor told him the scene was “so amazing” that the people watching the scene would never notice.

“Waited for the buzz and couldn’t tell man I guess King Kong really ain’t got $h*+ on Denzel for Real,” said one fan of “Training Day.”

Washington has also played a vicious character in “American Gangster” as Frank Lucas, who rose to power in the drug game in Harlem, New York, after his boss, who was also a drug dealer, passed away. Washington did not win an award for this particular role but he did earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.

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