Equalizer fans got a nice treat as Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning reunited for The Equalizer 3, two decades after first co-starring in Man on Fire. The reunion paid off as the threequel posted strong opening weekend numbers over Labor Day weekend. Now, amid the pair's big on-screen reunion, the threequel’s director recalls the super funny way Washington would acknowledge his reunion with Fanning while on set.
Equalizer 3 director Antoine Fuqua spilled to People that he orchestrated the decades-long reunion early in the film’s development. Fanning reached out early leading Washington to push for her after finding out she was available. Fuqua mentioned that it was “fun for me to just watch” recalling the duo’s onscreen chemistry. The director then spoke about seeing Fanning’s growth from Man on Fire to The Equalizer 3, recalling a funny story about how Washington reacted to working with her on set all these years later:
Dakota is very competitive and obviously, as a child, her first [acting] experience with Denzel Washington is very powerful, emotional. But you can see how she has grown quite a bit and I think it was more fascinating for Denzel than anyone else. Every once in a while, when I would yell cut, he would just look over and be like, 'I can't believe she's like a grown woman now!'
Denzel Washington spoke like a true dad finally seeing his daughter as a full-grown adult, and I can't help but chuckle about it. Before co-starring in the threequel, the two-time Oscar winner played the bodyguard trying to rescue a young Dakota Fanning in 2004’s Man on Fire. At the time, Fanning and Washington were two of Hollywood’s go-to stars with successes like Uptown Girls and Out of Time. However, the then-rising star held her own against the Hollywood A-lister. Fast forward decades later, the co-stars are on much more equal footing as the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star has grown as an actor since the 2004 action thriller.
Overall, the actor's shocked response from the set makes sense, because the first time they worked together was nearly 20 years ago. However, there's also no denying how funny it is that he yelled about her being "a grown woman now!" on set, because, of course, she is. Fanning is 29 years old, and she's been an adult for a long time, it's not surprising. However, I totally get Washington's surprise to seeing her work as a grown-up.
However, the time between projects hasn’t lessened Dakota Fanning and Denzel Washington’s bond. Fanning has spoken openly about her decades-long friendship with her onscreen partner. The actress has kept Washington and his family close as she is friends with one of his daughters. So, he’s seen Fanning grow up to be the star she is today.
It was nice to know the Oscar winner continued to play a major role in her life following the 2004 movie. Their close mentor-mentee dynamic can be seen in Robert McCall and Emma’s relationship throughout The Equalizer 3.
Getting a Fanning/Washington reunion was a great sign-off as The Equalizer series ends with the threequel. The Equalizer 3 is currently in movie theaters. Of course, Antoine Fuqua is open to revisiting the franchise in the future if the opportunity arises. Until then, Denzel Washington will be seen next in Gladiator 2, which arrives in cinemas on November 22, 2024. Dakota Fanning will return to the big screen in The Watchers, which will hit theaters on June 7, 2024. In the meantime, find out what new movies are coming to theaters by checking out our 2023 movie schedule.