Denzel Washington’s vigilante hero Robert McCall originally had a romantic plot arc in latest film The Equaliser 3, but it was scaled back after audiences reacted badly to it in preview screenings.
The film, Washington’s final appearance as McCall, sees the retired intelligence officer living in a small Italian town where the friendly residents are being terrorised by local Mafioso. One of the residents is waitress Aminah, played by Gaia Scodellaro. McCall and Aminah – who is significantly younger than McCall – grow close, discussing the locals’ predicament at her café and while she shows him around the picturesque dockyard during an evening stroll. In the end, nothing comes of their time together and they stay good friends – but in an earlier version of the movie, says director Antoine Fuqua, their love blossomed into a full-blown affair.
“There was more [to Robert and Aminah’s relationship in the script],” Fuqua told NME, “but the audience didn’t want to see Robert McCall in love… We did a test screening and they really felt like it was a betrayal of the wife, you know, so we decided to pull that back.”
In the two previous films, McCall’s late wife forms a key part of his backstory. McCall was a highly decorated government agent when they met and fell in love. In order to start a new life and be with her, he faked his death in a car bomb. However, she would eventually pass away, leading him to come out of retirement in the first Equalizer film, released 2014.
“[In the film] he was trying to move forward with his life and, you know, flirt a little bit. He was taken aback by the girl Aminah,” added Fuqua. “Nothing aggressive or anything, he was a bit reluctant. But we pulled back on these scenes where he would sit and think about his wife… I think the audience that loves Robert McCall and that ideal of his wife, you know, is perfection ‘cos we never met her. So there’s something about a person who’s gone, who was perfect.”
In the same interview, Fuqua also revealed to NME that he has considered de-aging Washington in order to make an origin story about McCall. He was inspired by seeing Harrison Ford aged down for Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny.