Fifteen years ago this October, Antoine Fuqua’s blistering, gritty good cop-bad cop thriller Training Day hit theaters. The film became a box-office success, but more significantly earned a first acting Oscar nomination for Ethan Hawke and a first Best Actor win for Denzel Washington.
The trio reteams in the new Western The Magnificent Seven, and Hawke says he had to go rogue to plan the reunion. Hawke and Washington had both worked with Fuqua separately in the decade-and-a-half since Training Day, the former in 2009’s Brooklyn’s Finest and the latter in 2014’s The Equalizer. But they hadn’t all been in the same place together until Hawke was asked to host the premiere screening of The Equalizer.
“That’s when I heard they were doing [The Magnificent Seven],” Hawke told Yahoo Movies at the film’s press junket at the Toronto International Film Festival (watch the video above). “I told Antoine, I said, ‘Look, if you don’t cast me, we won’t be friends anymore.‘”
Hawke might have been bluffing, but Fuqua confirmed how the actor forced his way into the developing project. “Pretty much,” the filmmaker laughed. “He said, ‘I know Denzel is doing the lead, so there’s six other roles. I want one of them, I don’t care which one. You make the choice.'”
Hawke was ultimately cast as the sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux, one of six gunslingers recruited by Washington’s bounty hunter Chisolm to help save a mining village from the clutches of a tyrannical industrialist.
Though it’s never fully divulged on screen, the film makes clear Hawke and Washington’s Magnificent characters share some history together. Maybe they were time-traveling cops.
The Magnificent Seven is now in theaters.
Watch Ethan Hawke share ‘Training Day’ stories in our Role Recall interview: