Denzel Washington played against type, and won an Oscar for his efforts, in Antoine Fuqua's Training Day. Though it was released more than a decade ago, the film's story about morally ambiguous police officers working neighborhoods run by gangs still resonates today—so much so that a pilot for a TV version of the movie is currently in the works at CBS.
1. THE SCRIPT WAS WRITTEN IN 1995.
David Ayer wrote the screenplay in 1995 and received responses that were either very positive or very negative. After LAPD officer Rafael Perez was caught stealing cocaine from an evidence locker, the script received more fans, including Warner Bros., who bought the script.
2. SAMUEL L. JACKSON AND MATT DAMON WERE ORIGINALLY SET TO STAR.
Davis Guggenheim was initially going to direct the film, with Jackson as Alonzo Harris and Damon as Jake Hoyt. Once Denzel Washington accepted the role of Alonzo instead, the actor allegedly asked for Guggenheim to be replaced.
3. EMINEM TURNED DOWN PLAYING JAKE.
He was approached to act alongside Washington, and ended up starring in 8 Mile the next year. Tobey Maguire, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Scott Speedman, and Paul Walker also tested for the role of the rookie cop.
4. DENZEL WASHINGTON PISSED OFF ETHAN HAWKE AT HIS AUDITION.
Hawke was upset at Washington for improvising during their screen test. The actor later claimed he considered going back to the room to tell them all to “go to hell” when he got a phone call saying that the audition went great and the part was his.
5. HAWKE REALIZED HOW CORRUPT COPS COULD BE IN REAL LIFE.
While conducting research for Hoyt, Hawke tagged along with a police officer who confiscated two kilos of cocaine, then "sold" part of that evidence for information on a murder. It showed Hawke how gray the line was for police.
6. IT WAS HARD FOR THE TWO STARS TO GET OUT OF CHARACTER.
Washington and Hawke sometimes continued talking as their fictional selves after Fuqua yelled “Cut!” By the time Fuqua would then tell the camera operator to turn the camera back on, it would be too late.
7. EVA MENDES WAS READY TO QUIT ACTING BEFORE SHE APPEARED IN THE MOVIE.
The then-27-year-old was “bored,” doing “terrible cheesy horrible” movies before she got to play Alonzo’s mistress Sara. It motivated her to keep going as an actress.
8. THEY SHOT IN LOS ANGELES'S MOST DANGEROUS NEIGHBORHOODS.
Originally production was told that shooting at the Imperial Courts housing project was off-limits for safety reasons. The community wanted the movie to happen and to be as unflinchingly honest as possible, so the ban was lifted. Fuqua cast residents of South Central, Crenshaw, Firestone, Inglewood, Rampart, Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, and the Imperial Courts in Watts in small roles and as extras.
9. TUCO FROM BREAKING BAD AND BETTER CALL SAUL WAS UP TO PLAY SMILEY.
Raymond Cruz instead ended up as Sniper in one scene that lasted 15 pages in the script. Cruz says his scene is "the best in the movie."
10. IT WAS MACY GRAY’S FEATURE FILM DEBUT.
When the singer was researching her part as Sandman’s wife, Gray went around one of the neighborhoods wearing a wig and a gold tooth so people wouldn’t notice her.
11. SNOOP DOGG WAS A PROFESSIONAL.
Fuqua claimed he never had to wait for Snoop Dogg, who played Blue, the paralyzed drug dealer. Unfortunately for the director, Snoop’s popularity led to over 200 people screaming his name and almost completely disrupting production.
12. YES, YOU’VE SEEN THAT COFFEE SHOP BEFORE.
Alonzo and Jake met up at the Quality Coffee Shop on West 7th Street in L.A. It was also featured in Se7en, Ghost World, and Gone in Sixty Seconds.
13. THE NAACP PAID WASHINGTON A VISIT.
They weren’t happy with Washington portraying a corrupt police officer. "The NAACP came to the set and said, 'What are you doing?,'" Hawke recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. "And you know I never had a political organization talk to me about what roles I pick. And Denzel, I remember him saying, 'What, Al Pacino can play a bad guy. Gene Hackman can play a bad guy. I can’t play a bad guy? I’m an artist. That’s how I lead, not by being some dubious role model by only playing squeaky clean people. I’ll be a role model by being great at my job.' You know now that is impressive to me obviously."
14. FUQUA WANTED DOG DAY AFTERNOON ACTING.
Speaking of Pacino: Fuqua specifically requested Dog Day Afternoon acting from his two leads. He also referenced the acting in The French Connection as something to which his actors should aspire.