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Academy Award winner Denzel Washington employed a reverse method to play an airline pilot who successfully performs an emergency crash landing in his new drama Flight.
Washington's character is accused of hitting the bottle before taking control of a plane. But instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to get in character by indulging in alcohol, Washington abstained from booze during the entire shoot.
Washington's protagonist, pilot Whip Whitaker, is hailed a hero when he lands a plane that would've otherwise fatally crashed. But during an investigation, it's revealed that Whitaker had substances in his system that could have impaired his judgment. But off camera, Washington remained a strict teetotaler throughout the shoot.
"We've all tied one on," the 57-year-old star says in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "But if I had been drinking while I was shooting, it'd be harder to stay disciplined, just to get up in the morning."
The acclaimed actor -- who has played everything from a slave and a dirty cop to Stephen Biko and Malcolm X -- continued that drinking would have made him difficult to work with on the set.
"You are a little more hungover, grouchier. I knew this was an excellent opportunity, and a really good story. So it was something I wanted to do right."
Washington says he also stopped drinking while filming several other films, including Malcolm X, but assured that he hasn't "given it up forever."
Teetotaling isn't the only sacrifice Washington is willing to make during filming. He's also willing to stay in character between takes, even if it means being less approachable on some films than others.
"In Safe House, I played what I thought was a sociopath, and I wasn't in a chitchatting mood unless I could manipulate you, unless I could win. That's what a sociopath is. It just goes back to the way I've worked for a very long time: stay with what I am doing. Nobody goes, 'Man, he sucked in that picture, but I bet he was nice to everybody!'"