Directed by: Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus has Fallen)
Cast: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, with Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo
In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a former black ops commando who has faked his death to live a quiet life in Boston. When he comes out of his self-imposed retirement to rescue a young girl, Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), he finds himself face to face with ultra-violent Russian gangsters. As he serves vengeance against those who brutalize the helpless, McCall’s desire for justice is reawakened. If someone has a problem, the odds are stacked against them, and they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.
Based on the Television Series created by: Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him to lead a quiet life in peace. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.
Columbia Pictures presents in association with LStar Capital and Village Roadshow Pictures an Escape Artists / Zhiv / Mace Neufeld production, The Equalizer. Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, with Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Written by Richard Wenk. Based on the television series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. Produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Denzel Washington, Alex Siskin, Steve Tisch, Mace Neufeld, Tony Eldridge, and Michael Sloan. Executive producers are Ezra Swerdlow, David Bloomfield, and Ben Waisbren. Director of Photography is Mauro Fiore, ASC. Production Designer is Naomi Shohan. Editor is John Refoua, ACE. Costume Designer is David Robinson. Music by Harry Gregson-Williams.
ABOUT THE EQUALIZER
For Denzel Washington, the force that drives Robert McCall – the character he plays in the action-thriller The Equalizer – is an innate sense of justice. “Robert McCall has done a lot of bad things in his past, and he’s trying to get beyond that – he’s not proud of his past, and he’s trying to do better,” Washington explains. After leaving that past behind to lead a quiet life, he finds that desire for justice reawakened when a young girl – abandoned by the rest of the world – needs his help. “He didn’t like himself – he never lost his skills, he made a conscious decision to put that behind him. It’s when he meets an innocent young girl who is being abused, that he decides to do something about it.”
“McCall’s motivation is simple,” says Todd Black, a producer of the film. “When there is an injustice to an ordinary person, someone who can’t defend themselves, because they’re not capable or they don’t even know where to start, he will take care of it – violently or nonviolently.”
For director Antoine Fuqua – who re-teams with Washington after directing the actor to his Oscar®-winning performance in Training Day – McCall shares some of the archetypical heroic traits that have been passed down. “I saw this movie as a throwback, like the westerns that Sergio Leone made,” he explains. “There’s an antihero, in a struggle, reluctant and ashamed to pick up his gun... but when he gets a chance to help other people, he does. He uses his skills for that.”
“We’d all like to believe that there’s a guy out there who could help us, if only we could find him,” says producer Jason Blumenthal. “If somehow we could reply to an ad on the Internet, desperately pleading for help when no one else would take that call. I’d like to believe that in my hour of need, somebody out there would listen to me – somebody would drop everything and help me, just because. And that’s the Equalizer.”
The film takes its title from the 1980s television series and shares its central premise – a man, highly trained, who can “equalize” the odds when they are stacked against the helpless. Though the filmmakers took only the premise and title from the original show, Blumenthal says that the premise is one that has only become more relevant. “The word ‘equalizer’ is a very strong, powerful word,” he notes. “A lot of people believe that there’s a lot of imbalance in the world, so the idea of creating a balance – equalizing something – is very meaningful. If anything, I think that title means more now, in 2014, than it did in the 1980s. People can get behind this kind of hero: a man who does heroic acts for the people who need them the most.”
With that in mind, the project was tailored especially for Washington by screenwriter Richard Wenk, who got the job once the producers saw his understanding of the character’s sense of right and wrong. “I would write an origin story – one that didn’t exist in the television show,” says Wenk. “I could keep McCall a mystery, and that gave me the freedom to re-envision this character.”
“Richard’s script is like a stick of dynamite,” says Fuqua. “It’s always interesting to watch the wick. It’s sparkly and interesting – and you know that sooner or later, it’s going to blow.”
For Chloë Grace Moretz, who would join the cast as Teri – the young girl who McCall is inspired to help – it’s easy to see that the role is perfect for Washington. “He’s so Denzel in the way he does his job,” she says, “McCall can be the most sweet, charming guy, with a huge smile on his face – and the next minute, he’s a killer, and you’re thinking, ‘WHOA! That happened quickly!’”
Fuqua says that one of the hallmarks of the character in Wenk’s screenplay is improvisation. “McCall doesn’t carry a gun – that’s a part of his past,” says the director. “He comes in and scans a room in two seconds. He’ll know exactly what’s to your left, what’s to your right – and he’ll use any of those things that he needs to stop you in your tracks. He takes what you have and uses it against you. He doesn’t kill you from a distance – he’s in your face and watching the light go out of your eyes. That’s a different kind of human being. You’ll never look at a corkscrew the same way again, I can promise you that!”
The idea for that corkscrew – one of the more memorable and grisly moments in one of the film’s key fight sequences – came directly from Fuqua. “I met with a friend of mine, who is familiar with this world,” he explains. “I told him that the fight was set in a bar area, and he laid out all of the different things in a bar, and said, ‘These are the things that would be useful to me.’ He picked up the corkscrew and showed me what he had in mind.”
Washington had sparked to the concept and set the ball rolling on the screenplay, but all agreed that there would be no commitment until the script was in. Three days after giving Washington the script, the producers were on pins and needles, waiting to hear back, when Black’s phone rang. “It’s Denzel on the other end,” he remembers. “‘Todd,’ he says, ‘this is Robert McCall.’”
In his role as a producer, Washington worked with Wenk to realize the role he wanted to play. He says they kept asking the basic questions – “Who is he? What makes him tick? What are his flaws? What is he trying to get over? I think that long ago, he started out as a man who wanted to help people, and it turned into something else. He had to put that all behind him, to shut the door. And this young innocent opens that door again.”
In seeking out a director, Washington was excited to be re-teaming with Fuqua. After their experience together on Training Day, Fuqua says, it was clear that The Equalizer lent itself to a good match of actor and director. “Part of what I discovered in Training Day is that I can read something on the page that sounds like an action piece, and I know that Denzel will see the acting in that – he can take an action beat and create great drama, as if it’s a dialogue scene,” says Fuqua. “He’s unpredictable, in the best way possible – he’s in his world, and you’re a fly on the wall, to capture it, if you can be smart enough to know when to continue in the scene.”
Similarly, Washington felt great confidence in his director. “He’s very talented,” says the actor. “We sent him the material and he responded – we sat down and he had tons of ideas – and it was a done deal.” Later, on set, that confidence paid off. “Antoine had the vision for the film – he was doing close work with specialized cameras, all of that stuff. But I never worried about any of that. The camera is Antoine’s area of expertise – I don’t have to worry about that. I just worry about the acting,” he smiles.
“We had a rhythm and an understanding,” says Fuqua. “There were times when we didn’t need to talk; we both knew where each other was going.”
Since Training Day, Fuqua and Washington have had several opportunities to re-team, but The Equalizer is the first that actually brought them back together. “We didn’t force it,” says Blumenthal. “It wasn’t ‘Let’s get the guys that did Training Day together.’ That’s not a reason to make a movie. I think Antoine was looking to make a movie where he could get back into character and really understand what makes a person tick. You can only build a great character if you’ve got an unbelievable actor, and of course, we had Denzel. So the challenge then became finding a character that Denzel could sink into and a world that Antoine could bring to life.”
ABOUT THE SUPPORTING CAST
Chloë Grace Moretz leads the supporting cast as Teri, a young girl who has been forced into a life of intimidation and terror. After meeting with McCall, her story will reawaken in him a desire for justice.
“When I first heard that the character is a prostitute I thought that it would be a Taxi Driver type of role – pushing the boundaries a bit,” she says. “But I was surprised. The role doesn't glorify prostitution nor make it cotton-candy. You never see her in the actual act of prostitution. The focus isn't on her profession but who she is as a person. You see that there is still a spark in her eye and that she yearns for something greater and if she can get out of this scary world, she could go on to a normal life. That’s what I loved about the character – this inner hope that was built into her story.”
Moretz says that inner hope is the basis of the bond that Teri forms with McCall. “He sees this dream in her,” she says. “It’s like there are two panes of glass – you have this terrified little girl, and right in front of it, a girl who’s been thrust into a terrifying world, putting on the face of a total badass to survive.”
Washington says that Teri, too, has a gift for looking beyond that first pane of glass. “She’s in the business of reading men – whether it’s a natural gift or she’s developed it through her profession,” Washington says. “Not to say she sees right through him, but she can see the pain, she can see the hurt.”
“The first time of meeting him, she cracks his code,” says Moretz. “She looks him right in the eyes. She notices his OCD tics – turning his book a hundred times, moving his stuff around. But it’s incredibly charming to her, to see someone who cares so much about things, when everyone around her is just going through the motions.”
Once she had the role, Moretz researched the character’s background. “There are girls who have been brought into rings from all over – from Russia, from Scandinavia,” she says. “I went to an amazing organization called Children of the Night – girls from all over America call a hotline number and they’re off the streets and in a home that cares for them. I didn’t want to exploit these girls – I’m an actor portraying a role – but as a girl, I wanted to understand. Meeting those girls not only helped me to be Teri truthfully and show who she is, but it allowed me, as a 16-year-old girl, to feel grateful and to put a spotlight on the organization.”
But for McCall, it’s not just about saving Teri – his actions will lead him into the heart of the Russian mafia. Actor Marton Csokas took on the role of Teddy, the gangster overseeing the ring. “I liked the challenge of playing the villain,” he says. “I’ve played villains before – even a Russian villain – and you don’t want to repeat yourself. So if I could find ways to come at it from left field, a little more obscurely, and work that into the raw material, then we would come up with something intriguing. It was fun.”
Csokas says that Wenk gave the character “really strong anchor points and information that allows you to leap into all kinds of different directions. The strongest idea that I tried to maintain is the sociopathic aspect – no conscience, the absence of love, glib in feeling, not really caring what other people think from a moral perspective. These ideas are good to be able to thread into the character.” This is what sets Teddy in opposition to McCall – where Teddy is incapable of caring about other people, McCall cares so much that he is drawn back into a life that he had sworn he had left behind.
To adopt Teddy’s unique accent, Csokas again looked internal. “I didn’t want to give him a stereotypical Russian accent,” he explains. “People from Russia who learn English all speak very differently. So I imagined he had spent time in England – more than likely London – and I experimented with the Cockney accent. Remember, he’s a sociopath, so he can be anything to anybody, and sociopaths are notoriously good mimics.”
Actor David Harbour plays Frank Masters, a corrupt cop with the Boston police. “He’s working with the Russian mob, the Irish mob, other mobs. He gets a lot of money from them,” says Harbour. When McCall begins his takedown of the people harming Teri, Masters becomes the minder for Teddy – the man brought in to protect the mob’s assets at any cost. “Masters becomes not only a foil for McCall, but a foil for Teddy, because Masters has a very different idea about how to approach getting someone. He knows Boston very well – it’s his home – and he has an antagonistic relationship with this person coming in and trying to tell him what to do.”
Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo take on the roles of Brian and Susan Plummer, a married couple from McCall’s past. “They’re the only functioning male-female relationship in McCall’s life,” Pullman notes. On creating that relationship with Leo, he says, “It’s a pleasure to create a relationship of 20-plus years – you get a chance to be in an open, generous frame of mind.”
Brian Plummer, he says, “is an old-money type. Richard Wenk had met one of these fellows in the South of France – one of these erudite, old-money people who are constantly being employed by the government for their amazing acumen about specific areas of knowledge of foreign relations.” In Pullman’s imagination, it’s in that role that Plummer met his wife – though her role was decidedly out of the think tank offices and on the front lines.
Leo, who won the Oscar® for her role in The Fighter, says that like McCall, they are supposed to have retired. “Brian and Susan Plummer have retreated from that world,” she says. “And we suddenly get brought back into play, once Robert McCall comes to our door.”
Leo says that the relationship between Susan Plummer and McCall goes so deep that often, nothing needs to be said. “In their world, nothing is ever casual. There are always things not being said, and they’ve both been trained and have worked for many years to be able to read signals from people, to literally read their thoughts from their behaviors. So when McCall shows up, he’d like to think that she doesn’t know what’s going on with him, but she must have a pretty good idea that she’s in some pretty big trouble.”
What, exactly, was their relationship, in McCall’s former life? “It’s not explained, what their history is together,” she says. “It’s left to the imagination. But in the imagination, the question isn’t ‘What did they do together,’ but ‘What didn’t they do together?’”
Of her on-screen husband, Bill Pullman, Leo remembers, “Bill was kind enough to give me a call in my hotel room after we both arrived,” Leo remembers. “We walked around the park, had a cup of coffee together – we didn’t really talk about the script or the characters, just got to know one another a little bit. From that conversation, I got a sense of him, his experience, how stage was his beginning, and I put that into the pot of how Susan might feel about Brian.”
Strangely enough, years ago, Leo played a supporting role in an episode of “The Equalizer” television series. Memory is fleeting, but YouTube is forever.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
To realize the action of The Equalizer, the conversations began between Fuqua, Washington, and Keith Woulard, one of the film’s stunt coordinators. “There’s a tendency in shooting action to shake the camera and move things around – the audience can’t tell what’s happening,” says Fuqua. That’s just what they didn’t want to do. “My goal was to take acting and make it action,” says Fuqua.
Fuqua’s inspiration for the way he would shoot the action scenes with McCall was inspired by his interaction with real-life boxers. “I happen to have a very good friend who’s a great boxer – Sugar Ray Leonard,” he notes. “He’ll tell stories, and you’ll realize how smart a boxer can be. Sometimes they’ll touch you – hey, how you doin’ today? – and that’s their way of checking you out, seeing if you’re in shape, if they think you’re a threat. Or they’re watching you a certain way, to see how you move, how your body language is, what your strengths and weaknesses are. They can pick you apart. McCall is trained that way, too – he notices these things and uses them to his advantage. We had to show that.”
The next step was to slow it down. “When we first did the scene in the bar office, it was quick – really fast. I said, ‘It should be fast, but it should be personal. Let’s slow it down, let’s look at it like it was a scene of dialogue, so I can still see him as a character within all of this movement. How would that be done, where it’s Denzel doing what he does?”
It was also important to Fuqua that the scenes be realistic. “We asked ourselves, Can it really happen? Can you really physically do these things? What happens to a human being who is capable of doing that? And it turns out for most people, ordinary people, it’s not possible – you get into a car accident, your heart beats faster, you panic. For people like McCall, though, it’s just the opposite. Their heart rate slows down. The breathing slows down. Everything around them slows down. Their pupils open up to let in more light. It’s all really happening as they assess a room in seconds. And then, when they have it all figured out, they go into action.”
For Woulard, as a stunt coordinator, the process began by breaking down the script into its individual set pieces. “We talked to Denzel and Antoine about what they wanted to do,” he says. “In this particular case, Denzel didn’t want to do a lot of martial arts-type of fighting – he wanted straight, street, slick, creative fighting. And Antoine, of course, agreed.” Woulard brought his own experience in the military, including Special Forces, in creating the fights for the film.
For this particular film, it was imperative that the stunt team work closely with Washington and create action that the actor could perform himself. “We set up all of the action facing us. You see Denzel maybe 95% of the time,” Woulard notes. “So, about a month before we started shooting, I started training him – and we trained every day.”
Training was imperative, as the character is highly trained and an expert. “If you’re holding a knife in a knife fight with the blade sticking out, anybody who knows their stuff will say, ‘OK, you’re going to get the drop on this guy really quick,’” Woulard says. “But if that knife is turned and the blade is running down the palm of his hand, and his holding it like he’s boxing, well, that’s a guy who’s got some experience.”
One thing that sets Robert McCall apart is that he does not use a gun – he uses his environment, whatever is at hand, against his opponents. “There could be an ashtray on the table, a letter opener on the desk,” Woulard continues. “There could be a vase, a fork, a cup, a book. And when he’s fighting in Home Mart, he’s on his home turf – he can gather things up and combine them.”
In that way, the specific action of The Equalizer doesn’t end with the stunts – it cuts across all aspects of filmmaking, including photography and production design. “Antoine was the one to come up with the idea of Equalizer-vision, if you will,” says producer Todd Black. “It was completely Antoine’s idea from the beginning, from the first meeting. We brought him back together with Mauro Fiore, the director of photography, who he’d worked with on Training Day and won the Academy Award® for Avatar, and Naomi Shohan, his production designer on Training Day, and the three of them worked out this idea.”
“When we hired Naomi for this movie, she said, ‘It must reek of realism. You must feel like Robert McCall could live right next door. When you walk into Home Mart, it must feel like that kind of store,’” Black continues. “But she also said, ‘Even though it’s real, it doesn’t have to be gritty or dirty – it has to have a soul, it’s got to have candlelight, it’s got to have warmth. McCall has to have a warm soul, or he wouldn’t be The Equalizer.’”
Shohan says that a large part of her challenge on the film was creating sets that would carefully set up everything that McCall would need for the action sequences – without giving the game away – and then paying off that setup in the action sequences. “Set decorator Leslie Rollins and his team studied very carefully – we talked about what would be interesting for the fight scenes, and knowing that we needed to introduce those in the beginning and reuse them later for the fight.”
Shohan also created the diner set where Teri and McCall make their connection. “The idea was for the diner to have wrap-around windows, to become a bowl of light in the darkness,” she explains. “It was so hard to find that – we looked all over the place. And then we saw just what we were looking for – these amazing windows – but it was a floor store. So we asked if we could borrow it, and if it could be a diner for a while. We took everything out, we made a counter, we changed the floor, we put in a fake tin ceiling. We hung the lights, and we painted it a color that we hoped would seem a little murky and underwater, but also glow. We used the palette from the famous Hopper painting, which has a similar wall color and a feeling of green, and a red counter. It’s not a novel idea, but it worked well – it looked like it was stuck in time, a place that hadn’t changed since the 1940s.”
ABOUT THE MUSIC
To create the score, Fuqua turned to composer Harry Gregson-Williams. “The creative process always starts with character – and McCall is the central character in this film,” he says. “Once I’d uncovered what made him tick, the path I took was to get behind his eyes. When he walks into a dangerous situation, the camera comes close to his face, and you look deep into his eyes – in fact, you see a reflection of what he’s seeing.”
As a result, the score – like the rest of the film – follows a realistic approach. “Because Antoine wanted the action to be believable, the score had to be rooted in reality, too. We couldn’t have French horns announcing the hero. There’s quite a dark tinge to his theme. But I learned quite early on that to bring darkness to a scene, it’s necessary to have a little ray of light somewhere, so that the contrast is evident. I took a two-pronged attack with McCall’s music – one followed his action, which was bold, strong, and noisy, and one avenue that was quite sensitive.”
As McCall explodes into action, Gregson-Williams’ score does the same. The composer notes that the audience isn’t necessarily aware that the tension is building. “You’re just following Denzel’s character – he’s aware that something’s up before the audience is,” he says. “The music kind of creeps up on you, and when McCall bursts into action, the music follows suit.
Those scenes are balanced by the scenes with Teri. “There’s a very fragile, raw quality to Chloë’s performance, so I used a very simple piano melody, surrounded by quite thin sounds,” he explains. “It was important not to over-score – not to push the emotion. We held back and let the audience discover the relationship as it comes.”
For Teddy’s theme, Gregson-Williams took an unusual approach. “He’s the bad guy, but I looked at his character. He’s wearing these beautiful, expensive suits – he’s the best-dressed guy in the movie. He arrives on a private jet. The guy’s not short of a dime or two. He’s not just a thug, he’s quite refined – it’s only as you discover more about him that you realize he is a base and nasty piece of work. So I was able to give him a theme that was refined.”
ABOUT THE CAST
Two-time Academy Award®-winning actor DENZEL WASHINGTON (Robert McCall / Producer) is a man constantly on the move. Never comfortable repeating himself or his successes, Washington always searches for new challenges through his numerous and varied film and stage portrayals. From Trip, an embittered runaway slave in Glory, to South African freedom fighter Steven Biko in Cry Freedom; from Shakespeare's tragic historical figure Richard III, from the rogue detective, Alonzo in Training Day, to his most recent critically acclaimed performance as the addicted airline pilot Whip Whitaker in Flight, Washington has amazed and entertained audiences with a rich array of characters distinctly his own.
Last summer, the talented actor starred in 2 Guns, opposite Mark Wahlberg. Other recent films starring Washington are the thriller Safe House, which was the number one box office hit the weekend it debuted in February 2012. He also starred in Unstoppable, with Chris Pine, Book Of Eli, a movie where he also served as a producer, and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, opposite John Travolta and James Gandolfini.
In addition, Washington starred in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster with Russell Crowe, Spike Lee’s Inside Man, with Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu, and Man on Fire. Other movies from this time frame are Jonathan Demme’s remake of The Manchurian Candidate where Washington played the role made famous by Frank Sinatra, and Carl Franklin’s Out Of Time with Eva Mendez.
In 2002, Washington marked his directorial debut with Antwone Fisher. Based on a true-life story about a troubled young sailor as he comes to terms with his past, the film won critical praise, was awarded the Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America, and won an NAACP Award for Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Washington.
Washington’s next film as director was The Great Debaters, a drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas who inspired students from the school’s debate team to challenge Harvard in the national championship in 1935. Washington also co-starred in the film with Academy Award®-winning actor Forest Whitaker and introduced upcoming young actors Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Denzel Whitaker who have gone on to have successful careers.
During the 1990s, Washington starred in Jerry Bruckheimer’s box-office sensation Remember the Titans, and Norman Jewison’s The Hurricane, where he received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and an Academy Award® nomination for his portrayal of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the world middleweight champion boxer during the 1960s who was wrongfully imprisoned twice for the murder of three whites in a New Jersey bar on June 17, 1966.
Another critically acclaimed performance was Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm X in director Spike Lee's biographical epic, Malcolm X. Monumental in scope and filmed over a period of six months in the United States and Africa, Malcolm X was hailed by critics and audiences alike as one of the best films of 1992. For his portrayal, Washington received a number of accolades including an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor.
Other notable Washington films include John Q, with Halle Berry, Phillip Noyce’s The Bone Collector, opposite Angelina Jolie, Fallen, Spike Lee’s He’s Got Game, Ed Zwick’s The Siege, Penny Marshall’s The Preacher’s Wife with Whitney Houston, Tony Scott’s Crimson Tide opposite Gene Hackman, Virtuosity, Courage Under Fire and Devil in a Blue Dress. He also starred in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, Jonathan Demme's controversial Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and The Pelican Brief, opposite Julia Roberts.
Washington's professional theater career began with Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park and was quickly followed by numerous off-Broadway productions, including “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men”; “When The Chickens Came Home to Roost” (in which he portrayed Malcolm X); “One Tiger to a Hill”; “Man and Superman”; “Othello”; and “A Soldier's Play,” for which he won an Obie Award. He also appeared in the Broadway production of “Checkmates” and “Richard III,” which was part of the 1990 free Shakespeare in the Park series hosted by Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in New York City.
In 2005, Washington returned to Broadway as Marcus Brutus in the critically acclaimed production of “Julius Caesar.” More recently, when he appeared opposite Viola Davis in a 14-week run of August Wilson’s “Fences” in 2010, his powerful performance earned him his first Tony Award. He recently returned to Broadway in a new production of Lorraine Hansbury’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
Washington was 'discovered' by Hollywood when he was cast in 1979, in the television film “Flesh and Blood.” But it was his award-winning performance on stage in “A Soldier's Play” that captured the attention of the producers for the television series, “St. Elsewhere,” who cast him as Dr. Phillip Chandler in the long-running series.
In 1982, Washington re-created his role from “A Soldier's Play” in Norman Jewison's motion picture A Soldier's Story. Washington went on to star in Sidney Lumet's Power, Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom for which he received his first Oscar® nomination, For Queen and Country, The Mighty Quinn, Heart Condition, Glory, for which he won the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor and Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues. Washington also starred in the action adventure film, Ricochet, and in Mira Nair's bittersweet comedy, Mississippi Masala.
In addition to his accomplishments on screen, Washington took on a very different type of role in 2000. He produced the HBO documentary “Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks,” which was subsequently nominated for two Emmy Awards. Also, he served as executive producer on “Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream,” a biographical documentary for TBS, which was nominated for an Emmy Award.
Additionally, Washington's narration of “John Henry” for a children’s album was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award in the category of Best Spoken Word Album for Children. He also was awarded the 1996 NAACP Image Award for his performance in the animated children's special “Happily Ever After: Rumpelstiltskin.”
MARTON CSOKAS (Teddy), pronounced ‘choh-kash,’ has established a prolific career in both film and theater. His feature credits include David Mackenzie’s Asylum with Natasha Richardson and Ian McKellen; Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy opposite Matt Damon; Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven; Christine Jeffs’ Rain; and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Best Picture Oscar® winner The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Csokas’ performance in Richard Roxburgh’s Romulus, My Father, with Eric Bana and Franka Potente, earned him the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards. His recent film work includes playing Alice’s father in Tim Burton’s blockbuster Alice in Wonderland; Julie Bertucelli’s The Tree with Charlotte Gainsbourg; Yann Samuell’s L’âge De Raison (Age of Reason) with Sophie Marceau; Shirley Barrett’s South Solitary with Miranda Otto; Jim Sheridan's Dream House with Daniel Craig; Timur Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; and John Madden’s The Debt with Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain.
On stage, he most recently played Orsino opposite Rebecca Hall in Sir Peter Hall’s staging of “Twelfth Night” at the National Theatre in London. He has previously starred in productions of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” at the Belvoir St. Theatre, which garnered him a Sydney Theatre Award nomination for Best Actor in 2007; “Arcadia”; “Julius Caesar”; and “Angels in America”, all with the Auckland Theatre Co. For Theatre for a New Audience in New York, he starred in “Antony and Cleopatra,” and at New York Theatre Workshop, he starred in the award-winning staging of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes.”
Csokas was recently seen in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah; he will soon be seen in Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City 2. He also starred in the Discovery Channel’s miniseries, “Klondike,” executive produced by Ridley Scott. Csokas just completed shooting the History Channel miniseries “Sons of Liberty.”
CHLOË GRACE MORETZ (Teri) has been captivating audiences since she was five years old, when she booked a lead role in Michael Bay's remake of The Amityville Horror, opposite Ryan Reynolds.
In September, Moretz begins production on the sci-fi action film The Fifth Wave, starring in the lead role of Cassie Sullivan. Based on the popular novel, the film is scheduled for release in early 2016. The same month she will be seen in the drama If I Stay from director R.J. Cutler, and, in the fall, with Charlize Theron in “Dark Places” an adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best-selling thriller.
On the stage, Moretz recently made her debut in Scott Z. Burns off-Broadway play “The Library,” directed by Oscar®-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.
Last year, Moretz starred as Carrie White in the remake of the cult classic “Carrie,” alongside Julianne Moore; and reprised her role as fan favorite Hit-Girl in “Kick Ass 2," the sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s cult-classic film, Kick-Ass.”Her breakout role as ‘Hit-Girl’ in “Kick-Ass,” followed by a starring role in Matt Reeves’ remake of “Let Me In,” landed her on TIME Magazine’s prestigious Top 10 Performances of the Year list, as well as, the New York Times Best Performances of 2010 list.
Moretz also starred with Sir Ben Kingsley in Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed “Hugo,” which garnered 11 Oscar nominations. This was followed by a leading role in Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows,” alongside Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeffier. Among her other credits are “500 Days of Summer,” "Laggies," and Oliver Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria.”
DAVID HARBOUR (Masters) has gained a reputation as a performer as facile in film and television as he is on stage. He recently completed a Broadway run opposite Al Pacino in “Glengarry Glen Ross” and was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.”
Harbour appeared in the ensemble film Parkland and will next be seen in A Walk Among the Tombstones, opposite Liam Neeson. He has co-starred in many films, including End of Watch, Revolutionary Road, Thin Ice, Brokeback Mountain, The Green Hornet, Quantum of Solace, W.E., and Between Us.
Harbour was a series regular on the FOX series “Rake,” opposite Greg Kinnear. Other television credits include recurring roles on HBO’s “The Newsroom” and “Pan Am.”
A New York native, Harbour graduated from Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York, just north of New York City. In 1977, he graduated from Dartmouth College with a double major in drama and Italian. He soon impressed theatrical critics and audiences alike, appearing in Lanford Wilson’s “Fifth of July,” and in such Broadway productions as “The Merchant of Venice,” also opposite Al Pacino, and Tom Stoppard’s “The Invention of Love” and “The Coast of Utopia,” at Lincoln Center Theater.
BILL PULLMAN (Brian Plummer) is widely known for his iconic film roles, which include credits in David Lynch’s noir-horror film Lost Highway, Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, and the skeptical brother, Jack Callaghan, in While You Were Sleeping. More recently, Pullman starred in NBC’s family comedy, “1600 Penn”, as President Dale Gilchrist.
His more recent feature film roles include co-starring in May in the Summer, which debuted at this year’s past Sundance Film Festival. He also is the subject of the documentary The Fruit Hunters, directed by Yung Chang.
Pullman’s theater work includes “The Jacksonian” from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Beth Henley (“Crimes of the Heart”), the Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “Oleanna,” opposite Julia Stiles, the Broadway premiere of Edward Albee’s “The Goat,” where he earned a Drama Desk nomination, and the New York premiere of Albee’s “Peter & Jerry,” which earned him another Drama Desk nomination for his performance. This fall, Pullman will be starring in the David Rabe play “Sticks and Bones” produced by The New Group.
Last fall, Pullman recreated his original role in “The Jacksonian” for the play’s New York premiere. Directed by Tony Award winner Robert Falls, this production featured the original cast of Ed Harris, Glenne Headly and Amy Madigan as well as Pullman. “The Jacksonian” was first produced at the Geffen Playhouse in 2012.
Other noteworthy credits include Pullman directing and producing the TNT movie “The Virginian,” which won the Wrangler Award for Best Picture in 2000. He also starred in the miniseries “Torchwood” as well as HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” for director Curtis Hanson.
MELISSA LEO (Susan Plummer) received an Academy Award®, Golden Globe and SAG Award for her tour de force performance in The Fighter. She also received Oscar® and SAG nominations for her starring role in Frozen River, for which she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and a Spotlight Award from the National Board of Review, among countless other accolades.
Leo shared a Best Ensemble acting award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society for her outstanding work in 21 Grams, opposite Benicio del Toro and Sean Penn. Her more recent films include Conviction, opposite Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, Welcome to the Rileys, opposite James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart, Red State, written and directed by Kevin Smith, Seven Days in Utopia, opposite Robert Duvall, and Flight, opposite Denzel Washington. Other notable film work includes The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, in which she starred opposite Dwight Yoakam and Tommy Lee Jones, and Hide and Seek, in which she starred opposite Robert De Niro.
In 2013, Leo appeared in Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, Warner Bros.’ Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, and Universal's Oblivion with Tom Cruise.
For television, Leo won a 2013 Primetime Emmy for her guest work on FX's “Louie.” She was previously nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries for her starring role opposite Kate Winslet in HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” which was directed by Todd Haynes. Leo’s other television credits include the current HBO series “Tremé” from executive producer David Simon; she is also known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Detective Kay Howard on “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
Leo studied drama at Mount View Theatre School in London, England, and later at the SUNY Purchase Acting Program.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
ANTOINE FUQUA (Director) is one of the most sought-after filmmakers of his generation, effortlessly blending action and character-driven storytelling.
Most recently, Fuqua released the box-office hit Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman. Previously, he directed Brooklyn’s Finest, with Richard Gere and Don Cheadle; Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg; the international hit King Arthur, starring Clive Owen, Keira Knightley and Joel Edgerton; the acclaimed blues documentary Lightning in a Bottle, executive produced by Martin Scorsese; Tears of the Sun, with Bruce Willis; and his first feature, The Replacement Killers, which was -Chow Yun Fat’s English film debut. Fuqua’s critically acclaimed drama Training Day earned an Academy Award® for Denzel Washington for Best Actor, and a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Ethan Hawke.
Up next, Fuqua helmed Showtime’s documentary “Suge Knight” and he is currently in production on Southpaw for The Weinstein Company, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Fuqua is also a highly regarded commercial and music video director having worked with such brands as Nike, Armani, and Pirelli and earning numerous awards for his music videos. Deeply passionate about giving back to his community through filmmaking, and inspired by his own upbringing, Fuqua is deeply supportive of underprivileged youth in the community.
Fuqua currently resides in LA with his family.
RICHARD WENK (Screenwriter) wrote the screenplay for The Mechanic, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster, and the Bruce Willis action film 16 Blocks, directed by Richard Donner. His upcoming projects include The Lake, an original action thriller for director Luc Besson, and the sequel to The Equalizer, currently in development at Columbia Pictures.
Wenk also is a director. He wrote and directed the comedy, Just the Ticket, starring Andy Garcia and Andie MacDowell. He marked his feature directorial debut with Vamp from his original screenplay.
MICHAEL SLOAN (Based on the Television Series Created By/Producer) has written and produced over 300 hours of prime time television, including the TV series “The Equalizer,” which he also created with Richard Lindheim. In addition, he wrote and produced the original “Battlestar Galactica,” “Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Mysteries,” new episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” the new “Outer Limits,” “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” and “Mystery Woman,” the most successful series ever on the Hallmark Channel. He was also the show runner on “The Master,” another show he created, and “B.J. & the Bear.”
He has written and produced several TV movies, including “Earthquake in New York,” “Freefall,” “Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Riviera,” “Return of Sam McCloud,” and three hugely successful “Return of the Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” movies. He has written and produced several features, including Moments, Max Havoc: Ring of Fire, Alien Agent and Art of War II: Betrayal, starring Wesley Snipes.
In addition, he wrote a stage play, “Underground,” which played at the West End in London and starred the late Raymond Burr.
With nearly four decades of television and technology research experience, RICHARD LINDHEIM (Based on the Television Series Created By / Producer) brings a unique perspective to his work as Creative Partner of RL Leaders, LLC. Previous to RL Leaders, LLC, Lindheim was Executive Director of the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at USC. During his successful tenure, Lindheim directed the institute from inception to its status as a leader in computer science research.
Prior to the ICT, Lindheim spent seven years as executive vice president of Paramount Television Group, where he was responsible to exploring and developing new uses of television expertise for entertainment. In this position, he launched Paramount Digital Entertainment. Previously, he worked at Universal studios for 12 years as both a producer and senior executive at Universal Television. During his tenure with Universal, Lindheim co-created the popular Universal/CBS program "The Equalizer" (1985-89) and served as an executive on many highly successful television series such as "Murder She Wrote," "Columbo," "Miami Vice," and "Law and Order."
Transitioning to Universal Studios from NBC, Lindheim served as vice president, dramatic programs following a nine-year post as vice president, program research for the network. A member of the Writers Guild of America, Lindheim has written articles for Variety, Electronic Media, Broadcasting, and other trade publications. He is the author of two textbooks on television.
Born in Dallas and raised in Los Angeles, TODD BLACK (Producer) attended the theatre program at the University of Southern California. He began his entertainment career as a casting associate. In 1995, Black became President of Motion Picture Production at Sony's Mandalay Entertainment and managed such films as Donnie Brasco, Seven Years in Tibet, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Les Miserables and Wild Things.
In January 2001, Black, along with his partner, Jason Blumenthal, merged with the Steve Tisch Company to form Escape Artists, an independently financed company housed at Sony Pictures. Their first produced movie was A Knight's Tale, starring Heath Ledger.
Black's feature film credits include The Pursuit Of Happyness and Seven Pounds, both starring Will Smith; The Taking Of Pelham 123, directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta; Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Alex Proyas; and Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama) for the Denzel Washington-directed The Great Debaters. In addition, Black was honored with the Producer Guild's Stanley Kramer Award for The Great Debaters and for his 2002 film, Antwone Fisher, Denzel Washington's directorial debut. His most recent project, Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, hit theaters in July.
Escape Artists is currently in production on Unfinished Business, starring Vince Vaughn.
JASON BLUMENTHAL (Producer) was born and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from Crossroads School for the Arts and attended Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. After graduation, Blumenthal joined Wizan/Black Films in 1990. There, he was involved with the development and production of Iron Eagle II, Split Decisions, The Guardian, Short Time, Class Act, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, Dunston Checks In, A Family Thing, and Bio Dome. They also executive produced Becoming Colette and Fire in the Sky.
Blumenthal was Senior Vice President of Feature Production at Mandalay Entertainment from the company’s inception in 1995 through March of 1998. During his tenure as Senior Vice President, he managed Mandalay’s production slate which included such films as The Fan, Donnie Brasco, Seven Years in Tibet, Les Miserables, Wild Things, Gloria, and The Deep End of the Ocean. One of Mandalay’s biggest box office successes was I Know What You Did Last Summer, which went on to be #1 at the box office for three weeks and grossed more than $130 million worldwide, spawning the sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
In April 1998, Blumenthal and his partner Todd Black formed Black & Blu Entertainment and entered into a first look production deal at Sony Pictures Entertainment. In 2001, Black & Blu merged with the Steve Tisch Co. (producers of Forrest Gump) to become Escape Artists while still maintaining their first look deal at Sony Pictures. Escape Artists has since produced A Knight’s Tale, starring Heath Ledger, and Antwone Fisher, directed by and starring Denzel Washington, which was released through Fox Searchlight. Before the success of The Pursuit of Happyness, which went on to gross more than $300 million worldwide, they produced The Weather Man directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Nic Cage and Michael Caine. Escape Artists also released the Alex Proyas thriller Knowing starring Nic Cage, Seven Pounds starring Will Smith, and The Taking of Pelham 123 directed by Tony Scott, and starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Among Escape Artists’ more recent films is Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Their most recent project, Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel was released in July. Escape Artists is currently in production on Unfinished Business starring Vince Vaughn.
DENZEL WASHINGTON (Producer/Robert McCall) Please see above biography.
ALEX SISKIN (Producer) has been a producer at Sony Pictures since 1996. In his first decade at Sony, he was a partner with Sid Ganis at Out of the Blue Entertainment, where they produced the Adam Sandler films Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds, and the Happy Madison projects Deuce Bigalow and Master of Disguise.
Siskin began his film business career at Amblin Entertainment in 1987, after graduating from UC Berkeley and pursuing graduate studies in English literature. He worked on numerous Amblin projects including Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List.
In 1991, he worked at Witt-Thomas Productions, before arriving at Sony.
STEVE TISCH (Producer) is a partner at Escape Artists Productions and is the Chairman and Executive Vice President of the New York Football Giants, the only person with both an Academy Award® and a Super Bowl ring. Tisch won a Best Picture Oscar® as a producer of Forrest Gump in 1994, and has received two Super Bowl rings as Chairman of the Giants, who won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
Tisch is one of the most successful producers in the motion picture industry. Three decades ago he produced the sleeper hit, Risky Business, helping launch Tom Cruise’s career. His more recent credits with Escape Artists include The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, Seven Pounds, Knowing, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Back-Up Plan, and Hope Springs. Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, was released in July. Currently in production is Unfinished Business, directed by Ken Scott and starring Vince Vaughn.
Tisch has been involved with the New York Giants since his father, Preston Robert Tisch, purchased 50 percent of the franchise in 1991. In 2005, Steve was named Executive Vice President, and with the passing of his father, he assumed the additional title of Chairman. Steve worked closely with John Mara, President & CEO of the Giants, on the planning and construction of MetLife Stadium, which was completed in the spring of 2010 and ranked as the number one grossing stadium in the world in 2012. Tisch and Mara were named Best NFL Owners by Forbes in 2011. Steve also helped win the successful bid to bring Super Bowl XLVIII to MetLife Stadium in February 2014.
Tisch has long been a leader in the philanthropic sector and generously contributes his time and resources to a variety of organizations including The Epilepsy Foundation, Women’s Cancer Research Foundation and The Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is a member of the Board of Advisors at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and is on the Board of Trustees of The Geffen Theatre in Los Angeles, The Sundance Institute, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Cancer Center at Duke University. He is the naming benefactor of the new sports and fitness center at his alma mater, Tufts University.
MACE NEUFELD (Producer) is known as one of Hollywood’s most successful and respected producers. His keen eye for talent and ability to turn published works into box-office hits has helped launch the careers of Kevin Costner and Alec Baldwin as well as directors Richard Donner, Roger Donaldson, Phillip Noyce, and John McTiernan, among others. He has produced two of the industry’s most successful film franchises, The Omen trilogy and the four blockbusters based on the Jack Ryan series of novels by Tom Clancy, which included The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears. More recently, he produced Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightley.
His other film credits include the hit crime thriller The General’s Daughter, based on Nelson DeMille’s best-seller starring John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, and James Cromwell; the critically acclaimed No Way Out, starring Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman; Invictus, from director Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon; The Frisco Kid, starring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford; The Saint, from director Phillip Noyce and starring Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue; the psychological thriller Asylum, starring Natasha Richardson and Sir Ian McKellen; and the adventure Sahara, based on the best-seller by Clive Cussler starring Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, and Steve Zahn.
In 1976, Neufeld and Harvey Bernhard produced the supernatural thriller The Omen, starring Gregory Peck and directed by Richard Donner, which became an international blockbuster and series of sequels for 20th Century Fox and launched Neufeld’s career as a producer.
In 1989, Neufeld teamed with former New World Entertainment head Robert G. Rehme to form Neufeld/Rehme Productions and entered into an exclusive deal with Paramount. In the 1990s, the company had a successful string of films that included Flight of the Intruder, starring Danny Glover; Beverly Hills Cop III, starring Eddie Murphy; and Necessary Roughness. In 1993, the team of Neufeld/Rehme was voted ShoWest Producers of the Year and Showmen of the Year by the Publicist’s Guild in 1994.
A native of New York and a graduate of Yale University, Neufeld began his career as a manager, guiding the careers of some of the most important talent in the entertainment industry at that time, including: Don Adams (“Get Smart”); Don Knotts (“The Andy Griffith Show”); Jay Ward (“Bullwinkle and His Friends”); Gabe Kaplan (“Welcome Back Kotter”); and music legends Jim Croce, Randy Newman, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, and The Carpenters.
In the 1980s, Neufeld’s credits include some of television’s most distinguished films including the Golden Globe winning miniseries “East of Eden”, based on John Steinbeck’s prize-winning novel and the pilot for “Cagney and Lacey”, which went on to become an award winning and groundbreaking television series. He also served as executive producer on the award winning miniseries “Death in California” (starring Cheryl Ladd and Sam Elliott) and later presented the six-hour Turner Pictures television film “Gettysburg”, which was the highest rated basic cable miniseries to date.
A man of many interests, Neufeld is also an accomplished photographer (his photograph of a returning WWII veteran, entitled “Warriors Return” was a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 and was also voted Picture of the Year by the New York World Telegram-Sun). A long-standing member of ASCAP, Neufeld collaborated with lyricist Robert Arthur on material for such stars as Sammy Davis, Jr., Dorothy Loudon, and Betty Clooney, and wrote numerous children’s songs, including the theme for the “Heckle and Jeckle” animated series.
He has an outstanding collection of primitive arts and holds a multi-engine instrument rating pilot’s license. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute and a mentor at the USC Ray Stark Producing Program.
Neufeld has been honored with numerous awards including Producer of the Year Award from ShoWest, the Career Achievement Award in Producing from the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Christopher Award, the National Board of Review Award, and the Critics’ Choice Award, among others. He is the recipient of a prestigious star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Neufeld has been a supporter of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) for over a decade and was honored with a 2000 PATHMakers Award. He is a passionate supporter of Stop Cancer and has served as a member on the Beverly Hills Art Commission.
TONY ELDRIDGE (Producer) has been developing and producing feature films and television movies for over fifteen years. His Lonetree Entertainment production company controls or manages the film rights to over 50 literary properties, including books by New York Times bestselling authors David Fisher, Heather Graham, Michael Palmer and Jonathan Maberry, original screenplays, and true life stories. He has projects in development at HBO, Lionsgate, Landscape Entertainment and Relativity Media and has worked with Tom Cruise, Nick Cage and Harvey Weinstein. His next feature film, The War Magician, is based on the life of Jasper Maskelyne, a charismatic stage magician who used illusion on a grand scale to trick Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and in so doing, changed the course of WWII and history.
MICHAEL SLOAN (Producer / Based on the Television Series Created By) Please see above biography.
EZRA SWERDLOW (Executive Producer) has amassed a distinguished production career that spans over the past thirty years, working alongside such iconic directors as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Mike Nichols, Barry Levinson and Mel Brooks.
His most recent credits are Sony Pictures’ CGI/ live-action hybrid movie The Smurfs 2, starring Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris; the feature film action-comedy adaptation of the popular 1980s TV series, 21 Jump Street, starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum; and Curtis Hanson’s critically acclaimed financial docudrama “Too Big To Fail,” starring William Hurt, Paul Giamatti and Billy Crudup for HBO.
He also served as executive producer on the horror comedy Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, as well as Disney’s classic Enchanted, starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden and Invincible, the story of Philadelphia Eagles’ underdog Vince Papale, which starred Mark Wahlberg.
Swerdlow began his career in 1980, serving as a unit manager on Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. He spent the next few years working in a variety of production capacities (including location manager, unit manager and production manager) on such renowned films as Tootsie, Arthur and The King of Comedy, before earning his inaugural producing credit on Allen’s Radio Days.
His diverse portfolio clearly shows that he’s not afraid of tackling different genres, such as the successful adaptation of Terry McMillan’s bestseller Waiting to Exhale, which he not only produced but also developed. He has also served as executive producer on such commercial and critical hits as Wag The Dog, Head Of State, The First Wives Club and Secret Window, starring Johnny Depp.
DAVID BLOOMFIELD (Executive Producer) has been with Escape Artists for over 12 years and was recently named a partner at the company.
Bloomfield has executive produced a number of Escape Artists films, including Sex Tape for Columbia Pictures, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, The Back-up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez and Knowing with Nicolas Cage.
Bloomfield is currently executive producing the Escape Artists film Unfinished Business starring Vince Vaughn for New Regency, and the upcoming Ends of the Earth starring Jennifer Lawrence for The Weinstein Company.
Bloomfield also co-executive produced Jason Reitman’s first feature Thank You for Smoking for producer David Sacks. Prior to joining Escape Artists in 2000, Bloomfield was a Senior Vice President at Spelling Entertainment.
Bloomfield started his career as an attorney for Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. He is a graduate of New York University School of Law.
BEN WAISBREN (Executive Producer) is Chairman and President of LSC Film Corporation, which co-finances major motion pictures with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. He is also an attorney with the international law firm of Winston & Strawn, where he advises clients in the U.S. and Europe in the media & entertainment and finance sectors. His clients include independent production and distribution companies, private equity firms, hedge funds, investment banks and commercial banks.
Earlier in his career, Waisbren was a managing director and head of investment banking restructuring at Salomon Brothers in New York, following a legal career at a large Chicago law firm, Lord, Bissell & Brook, where he led a national bankruptcy litigation practice.
Prior to joining Winston & Strawn in early 2013, Mr. Waisbren was the President of Continental Entertainment Capital LP, a direct subsidiary of Citigroup, with operations in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Before that, he was a managing director of a global hedge fund company, Stark Investments, where he was a co-portfolio manager in the fixed income and private equity areas, and responsible for investments in the feature film industry, and the formation of the firm’s structured finance fund and a related, branded middle market leveraged lender, Freeport Financial.
Waisbren served as a member of the Board of Directors of France’s Wild Bunch, S.A., a pan-European motion picture production, distribution and sales company, from 2005 until 2009, in connection with private equity investments that he managed.
He was Executive Producer of Warner Bros. Pictures’ 300; Blood Diamond; V for Vendetta; Nancy Drew; The Good German; Poseidon; and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In addition, he was Executive Producer of the following independent studio releases: Cassandra’s Dream; First Born; Next; Bangkok Dangerous; and Gardener of Eden. He served as an executive producer of Columbia Pictures’ 22 Jump Street and Sex Tape.
MAURO FIORE (Director of Photography) was born November 17, 1964 in Marzi, Calabria, Italy and moved in 1971 to Chicago, Illinois. He graduated in 1982 from Palatine High School then continued on to Columbia College Chicago, earning his B.A. in 1987. Fiore resides in California and Nebraska with his spouse Christine Vollmer and their three children.
Fiore’s career began after moving to Hollywood with longtime friend Janusz Kaminski and joining Corman productions in 1987. As Kaminski rose to become Steven Spielberg’s director of photography, Fiore assisted him as both gaffer and second-unit cinematographer.
Fiore continued to work alongside Kaminski as a gaffer after Kaminski’s career began to take off when he became a director of photography. Steven Spielberg discovered the pair after their work on Wildflower, and shortly after hired the two men to shoot Schindler’s List. These films led to Michael Bay’s hiring of Fiore in 1996 as second unit director of photographer in The Rock, then shortly followed by Armageddon.
In 2000, Kaminski hired Fiore as his director of photography for his directorial debut, Lost Souls. Through their recent successes, both men’s reputations and careers quickly began to grow.
Director Antoine Fuqua, recognized Fiores cinematography on the remake of the 70s classic Get Carter and offered him the opportunity to shoot Training Day, which proved to be his breakthrough film. Fiore teamed up again with Fuqua in Tears of the Sun, then was offered Michael Bay’s The Island.
James Cameron hired Fiore for Avatar in 2009 after seeing his work in the jungle set films of Tears of the Sun and The Island. Immediately upon release, Fiore was highly praised for his work, which he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematographer, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, Florida Film Critics Circle Award, Phoenix Film Critics Society Award, New York Film Critics Circle Award (2nd Place) and was nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award, a BAFTA Award, British Society of Cinematographers Award, Chicago Film Critics Association Award, and an Online Film Critics Society Award.
Over his career, Fiore has worked with directors such as James Cameron, Michael Bay, and Steven Spielberg, and has shot many stars over the years including Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Foxx, Bruce Willis, Liam Neeson, Jessica Biel, Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
Early notable works of Fiore’s besides those listed above include: The Hire: Ticker, Smokin’ Aces, and The Kingdom. He was also the director of photography on the TV series “Tracey Takes On…” Fiore’s most notable recent work was Real Steel, and he is now currently working on Runner, Runner and Leningrad.
NAOMI SHOHAN (Production Designer), who previously collaborated with director Antoine Fuqua on Training Day, The Replacement Killers and Tears of the Sun, reteams with him on The Equalizer. Highly talented, Shohan earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Production Design for her work on American Beauty, the Academy Award® winner for Best Picture.
Her many other credits include The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, starring Nicolas Cage, The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson, I Am Legend, directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith, Constantine, also directed by Francis Lawrence, Sweet November, Playing God, Feeling Minnesota, and Zebrahead, among others. Her work was most recently seen in director Akiva Goldsman’s Winter’s Tale, and will next be seen in the upcoming Robert Zemeckis film, The Walk, about Philippe Petit's remarkable wire walk between the World Trade Center towers.
In addition to her work in feature films, Shohan has designed sets for such made-for-television films as “The Miraculous Year,” which was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, as well as “Selma, Lord, Selma” and “Nightjohn,” both directed by Charles Burnett.
JOHN REFOUA, ACE (Editor) was nominated for an Academy Award®, a BAFTA, and an ACE Eddie for co-editing James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Refoua met Cameron while editing the Fox television series, “Dark Angel,” and after the show's two-year run, Cameron asked him to help finish the edit of Ghosts of the Abyss, the 3D IMAX documentary about the sinking of the Titanic. They went on to co-edit Avatar, which took almost three years to complete. The film won Refoua the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Editing from the Broadcast Critics’ Association.
The Equalizer is Refoua's second collaboration with director, Antoine Fuqua. Previously they worked together on the hit Olympus Has Fallen.
In addition, Refoua collaborated with Tom Lennon and Ben Garant, the creators of “Reno 911!” He worked with them on the first five seasons of the Comedy Central television series, and edited their feature film, Reno 911!: Miami, as well. They continued working together on their next feature, Balls of Fury. Refoua also worked on the comedy 21 and Over, written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, best known for writing The Hangover.
At age 19, Refoua graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in economics. After a few years of travel and work in the business world, he decided to pursue his passion for the arts when a friend recommended editing.
DAVID ROBINSON (Costume Designer) has created the wardrobe for such iconic films as Donnie Brasco, Meet Joe Black, Pollock, and Zoolander, among many others. More recently, he designed the clothes for I Love You Philip Morris, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the independent feature, Jimmy P., starring Benicio del Toro, which debuted at last year’s Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews. He currently is working on Southpaw, starring Jake Gyllenhall.
Robinson started his career on Broadway, working as an assistant costumer on “The Phantom of the Opera.” His first feature film as a costume designer was The Basketball Diaries, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS (Music) is one of Hollywood’s most sought after composers, whose scores span the spectrum of high-profile projects from action to drama to animation – each infused with the emotional punch and atmospheric intensity that mark his distinctive musical style. He worked on all four installments of the blockbuster Shrek franchise; garnered a BAFTA nomination for the score for the first Shrek; and received Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations for his score for Andrew Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
His work was most recently heard in Fox Searchlight’s thriller The East, Total Recall starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and directed by Len Wiseman, the animated film Arthur Christmas, the action thriller Cowboys & Aliens directed by Jon Favreau and the documentary Life in a Day. He also wrote the theme for Prometheus directed by Ridley Scott and for the drama Mister Pip starring Hugh Laurie and directed by Andrew Adamson. Gregson-Williams also scored the critically acclaimed The Town, marking his second collaboration with director Ben Affleck. Gregson-Williams first worked with Affleck as the composer on the Oscar®-nominated Gone Baby Gone. He has also worked multiple times with other directors including Joel Schumacher on the films Twelve, The Number 23, Veronica Guerin and Phone Booth; and Tony Scott on Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Déjà Vu, Domino, Man on Fire, Spy Game and Enemy of the State. The Equalizer marks his second collaboration with director Antoine Fuqua having previously worked together on The Replacement Killers.
His long list of film credits also includes Mike Newell’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Adamson’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; Seraphim Falls; Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven; Beeban Kidron’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; Aardman’s animated smash Chicken Run; Return to Sender and Smilla’s Sense of Snow, both for director Bille August; and Antz.
Born in England to a musical family, Gregson-Williams earned a music scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge at the age of seven. By age 13, his singing had been featured on more than a dozen recordings, and from there he moved to Stowe School as their top music scholar and subsequently gained a coveted spot at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Harry then turned his attention to teaching, initially in Schools in England but later in Alexandria, Egypt. He started his film career as assistant to composer Richard Harvey and later as orchestrator and arranger for Stanley Myers, and then went on to compose his first scores for director Nicolas Roeg. His subsequent collaboration and friendship with composer Hans Zimmer resulted in Gregson-Williams providing music for such films as The Rock, Armageddon and The Prince of Egypt and helped launch his career in Hollywood.
Gregson-Williams has had the distinction of receiving the Hollywood Composer of the Year Award from the Hollywood Film Festival, as well as the Richard Kirk Award for Outstanding Career Achievement from the BMI organization’s Film/Television Music Awards.