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19th Aug 2023

Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning explain how they’ve managed to keep in touch for 20 years


Dakota and Denzel

BY Steve Hopkins

The pair both starred in Man on Fire in 2004

Dakota Fanning and Denzel Washington have revealed their bond goes well beyond the screen, with the pair remaining close for almost 20 years.

The pair both starred in Man on Fire in 2004, with Fanning being just 9 years old when she played Pita Ramos.

She was just starting out, whereas Washington, then 48 and in the role of Creasy, was already a seasoned veteran, with two Academy Awards to his name (Glory 1989, Training Day 2001).

The pair are due to hit the screen together next month – the first time in almost two decades – in The Equalizer 3, which is set for release on 1 September.

Ahead of the release, Washington and Fanning have been on a publicity tour, and spoken to the press about their friendship.

Washington was incredibly complimentary of the young star, now 29, telling Entertainment Tonight (ET): “She knows how to hit the ball back over the net. Sky’s the limit for her.”

For Washington, 68, working with Fanning as an adult, took a little time to get used to.

“It was weird, you know, ’cause I’m like, ‘Oh she’s a grown woman,’” he added.

“She was like a grown woman then, but now she’s a grown woman. And, you know, obviously a great talent… It wasn’t really strange, ’cause she was bringing it.”

Fanning also detailed how entwined their lives had been since they first starred alongside each other, telling ET , they had remained in touch all these years. She is also friends with one of Washington’s daughters, having spent time together at New York University.

“I’ve obviously, you know, known Denzel for a big part of my life, and one of his daughters is one of my closest friends, so I’m always in the loop,” she told ET.

As for the reunion all these years later, Fanning summed up: “It’s been almost 20 years and I was quite young [in Man on Fire], but that’s not an experience that one forgets.

“The second time, I felt the same, like, my body felt the same feeling that I remember feeling all those years ago – excitement and a little bit of nerves and wanting to be as prepared as possible. He definitely is an actor that keeps you on your toes constantly.”

In fan favourite flick, Man On Fire, Washington’s character, a CIA officer turned bodyguard, sacrifices himself for his kidnapped young ward.

The Equalizer 3 sees Fanning portray a CIA agent sent to Italy to investigate mafia activity. There, she meets up with Robert McCall (Washington), a former government assassin who relocated to Southern Italy in an attempt to move on with his life and reconcile some of the atrocities he has committed.

McCall enjoys the slow pace of life, but when he realised his new community is under the control of local crime bosses, he feels compelled to act – in the only way he knows how.

Speaking about McCall’s journey, Washington has said: “This movie is about his salvation and letting go of his past.”