Antoine Fuqua on Dennis Rodman's North Korea Trip, Violence in Movies and His Eminem Film
'Training Day' Director in Early Talks to Reteam With Denzel Washington for Sony's 'Equalizer'
Antoine Fuqua spent the first decade of this 21st century working almost without a stop, pumping out nine feature and TV movies in ten years, most notably the gritty cop dramas Training Day (for which Denzel Washington his first Oscar) and Brooklyn's Finest. But since 2009, he's only released one film -- a TV movie called Exit Strategy, made with his frequent collaborator Ethan Hawke -- as several of his passion projects have been delayed for various financial and personal reasons.
Next weekend, Fuqua finally returns to the big screen with the popcorn-munching action-genre film Olympus Has Fallen, which stars Gerard Butler as an exiled secret service agent who becomes the country's last hope when a North Korean paramilitary group takes over the White House and holds the president (Aaron Eckhart), secretary of defense (Melissa Leo) and several others hostage.
The Hollywood Reporter met with Fuqua over the weekend to discuss the film, as well as the thorny issues involved with working with the military, Dennis Rodman's well-timed trip to North Korea, gun violence and his next projects, which should finally include Southpaw, a film he's making with Eminem.
THR: Welcome back to New York.
Fuqua: I love New York.
THR: Yeah? Do you miss it?
Fuqua: Oh my God.
THR: Where in New York did you live?
Fuqua: Well I had a place on 57th and Broadway but I gave that up. I regretted giving that up so then we got a place at 14th Street. I love it down there. I’ve had some funny experiences down there. I used to see parents dropping off students [at NYU]; so sweet. Then cut to a month later, I’d be on my way home and see them drunk on the sidewalk. What happened?
THR: You hadn’t come out with a movie in a number of years. It must’ve felt good to get back on the horse.
Fuqua: Yeah. It’s like an athlete, you go nuts. Your family’s like "Don’t you have somewhere to be?" You’re trying to develop your personal projects and get things going. It’s tough.
THR: I imagine this was a really fun movie too. There was less personal, more fun.
Fuqua: This was fun. It was entertainment. When I read the script I thought it’d be fun. Shooting up the White House and building my own White House. (Laughing) You can’t take yourself too seriously.
THR: I was watching this movie and thinking that ten years ago, this would’ve been Al Qaeda, 20-30 years ago it would’ve been Russians.
Fuqua: We always find a bad guy. Writers are at home, listening to the news, and they’re like "That’d be a good story. North Koreans." What are you going to do? That’s part of our culture.
THR: When you look back on movies from World War II or before, the Japanese and the Native Americans are given a bad rap, racially lampooned. Did you worry about falling into that trap here?
Fuqua: Yeah, it wasn’t about North Korea being bad. It’s just one particular terrorist, just one guy who has a personal debt to pay. Like all of them, they have their grand scheme of conquering the world. They have this thing. But really, it comes down to something personal.
THR: Obviously, you couldn’t have known this when you made the movie or decided on a release date, but quite the timing for Dennis Rodman to take a high profile trip to North Korea…