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The Equalizer 3: Director Antoine Fuqua Talks Denzel, Dakota, And The Bond Between Them - Exclusive Interview

Antoine Fuqua is an ace director with a wide range; he has directed everything from "Training Day" to "Tears of the Sun," from "The Magnificent Seven" remake to "The Guilty," and from "Olympus Has Fallen" to "Emancipation." He's also worked with a number of big stars, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Wahlberg, and Will Smith. But there may be no bigger name that he's directed than Denzel Washington. In fact, Washington and Fuqua have a special bond. Not only has Washington starred in "Training Day" and "The Magnificent Seven," but he has also been the focus of Fuqua's one and only trilogy, "The Equalizer."

Now with "The Equalizer 3," Fuqua is having Washington take his final bow as the character Robert McCall. In the film, McCall finds himself in a small town in Italy that he falls in love with. He decides to settle there, not realizing his new friends are under the control of the mafia — so he becomes the town's protector, taking on the mafia and cleaning up the streets. It's an incredible ride and a fitting end for Robert McCall.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Fuqua spoke about his special relationship with Denzel Washington, seeing Washington and Dakota Fanning act together for the first time since Fanning became an adult, and his personal feelings about saying goodbye to Robert McCall.

Fuqua's respectful relationship with Denzel Washington

This is the only series of movies both you and Denzel Washington have done. What is it about your relationship with him that's so special?

It's a very respectful relationship to begin with, and it also is based on trust. A lot of that comes from Mr. Washington, from the first time I worked with him on "Training Day." He never questioned things I wanted to do. He never came and looked at the monitor and said, "I need to look through the lens." At that time, I was so young — he had more experience, obviously, and he basically was like, "You got it." Whatever direction I gave him, he took it. That's a big deal for a director, especially working with someone on that level, to know that he trusts you. It puts a lot of responsibility [on you] if you care not to screw that up.

Denzel and Dakota, and missing the world of The Equalizer

This film sees Denzel Washington re-team with Dakota Fanning for the first time in several years, and the dynamic has changed. What was that like?

Fun. It's fun. We watched Dakota grow up, and "Man on Fire" was so fantastic — little big eyes and them in the car together with Creasy. Tony Scott, God rest his soul, did an amazing job. To be able to put them together again as a director and sit back and see the dynamic between the two ... I would yell "cut" to see Denzel look at me and laugh and go, "She's a grownup now." He couldn't believe it either. She's challenging him in the scenes. It was really special to be able to do that.

This is the end of "The Equalizer" trilogy, so I wanted to ask you: Will you miss the world of "Equalizer," or are you excited to go on to different projects now?

No, I'm definitely going to miss the world of "Equalizer." It's like a breakup. When they took the movie — they yanked the movie out of my hand last week — I felt sad. There was a moment when I was sitting there watching it on the big screen, and I thought, "Oh man, I'm saying goodbye to Robert McCall. I don't want to do that." But everything comes to an end.

And you can move on to new projects.

Yes, of course. But I'm going to miss Robert McCall.

"The Equalizer 3" premieres exclusively in theaters on September 1.

This interview has been edited for clarity.