Certain film directors have a favorite Actor they repetitively work with multiple times throughout their careers and vice versa. This list can be exhaustive, but, to name a few: we have Frances McDormand and the Coen Brothers, John Turturro and Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino, Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan, David O. Russell and Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh, Bill Murray and Wes Anderson, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, Robert de Niro and Martin Scorsese, and the most underrated of all….Denzel Washington and Tony Scott.
Discussions about the work behind this dynamic duo has been inadvertently neglected by audiences and critics alike. Their number of films together include: Crimson Tide (1994), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2008) and Unstoppable (2010). Tony Scott and Denzel Washington have collaborated together on five blockbuster films, all garnering box office success in addition to positive critical reviews. According to BoxOfficeMojo, Crimson Tide had a worldwide gross of $157,387,195, Man on Fire at $130,834,852, Déjà Vu at $180,557,550, The Taking of Pelham 123 at $150,166,126, and Unstoppable at $167,805,466.
It’s remarkable how Denzel Washington never duplicated a performance throughout the five films. In Crimson Tide, he portrays an Executive Officer aboard the USS Alabama amid a nuclear missile crisis to prevent World War III. In Man on Fire, he plays a former CIA Operative out for vengeance. In Déjà Vu, his role is an ATF Agent called into a top-secret Government laboratory that uses time-travel to prevent crimes that occurred in the past. In The Taking of Pelham 123, he plays a demoted Subway Dispatcher caught amid a terrorist scheme. In Unstoppable, he acts as a veteran engineer who must stop an unmanned train from destroying an entire city and its populace.
Denzel Washington talked fondly of Tony Scott in an interview with TheCelebFactory, “…his passion…his energy. Just a wonderful man.” In a 2010 interview via the Los Angeles Times, Tony Scott said, “More than any other actor, he always surprises me. He always manages to pull out a different aspect of Denzel.” Tony Scott continued in that interview with the LA Times to say, “On ‘Pelham’, he was the guy next door, out of his depth. And then you look at ‘Man on Fire’, and he was this capable, but, complicated CIA Agent. He’s able to never repeat himself.”
Both Crimson Tide and Déjà Vu were produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and long-time editing collaborator Chris Lebenzon cut four out of the five films: Crimson Tide, Déjà Vu, Pelham 123 and Unstoppable. Paul Cameron, another frequent Collaborator with Tony Scott, was the director of photography on both Man on Fire and Déjà Vu. With the exception of Crimson Tide, which was musically composed by Hans Zimmer, four out of the remaining five were scored by Harry-Gregson Williams. This collaboration between Tony and Denzel is underrated and if you ask me, and other fans of the action genre, we’ll take Tony and Denzel over any other dynamic duo of actor/director, on any day of the week, any month of the year.