Denzel Washington just galloped into theaters last Friday with The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the 1960 Western classic co-starring Chris Pratt and his Training Day mate Ethan Hawke. Its impressive $34.7 million opening-weekend box-office haul reconfirmed that Washington is one of America’s most bankable A-listers, although for his next project Fences, he’ll be tackling a far less movie star-ish role. (Watch the first trailer above.)
Washington both directs and stars in Fences, an adaptation of the 1983 play by August Wilson that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play, and was originally headlined on stage by the incomparable James Earl Jones. Washington and Viola Davis both earned Tonys for a 2010 revival of the play, and they return here for the film adaptation. The movie boasts a screenplay by Wilson and will feature Washington as Troy Maxon, a former Negro Leagues baseball star who now works as a garbage collector in order to provide for his wife (Davis) and teenage son (Jovan Adepo) in 1950s Pittsburgh. His resentment over racial discrimination and lost opportunities is merely one of the many forces at play throughout the film, which as the above debut teaser makes clear, should provide a sterling opportunity for intense, introspective and complex character drama courtesy of its talented leads.
Primed to be a standout awards-season release — and acting showcase — Fences seems likely to prove that Washington remains one of Hollywood’s most versatile and commanding leading men when it premieres in theaters on Dec. 25.