About The Production
Training Day is a movie that comes straight from the streets it depicts — a product of the match up between screenwriter David Ayer, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and director Antoine Fuqua, who grew up on the rough side of Pittsburgh. Both men are intimately familiar with the daily, potentially explosive face-offs between cops and criminals in urban America.
"Our generation doesn't have a Vietnam, and we don't have any external wars, but the war we're fighting is within — it's inside the very heart and core of America," says Antoine Fuqua. "In communities across the country, the police are fighting the people and vice versa. It's an explosive situation and it's something that urgently needs to be talked about."
As a 1998 Los Angeles Times report on 51 major urban police departments noted, on average, any police unit can "expect to have ten officers charged per year with abuse of police authority, five arrested for a felony, seven for a misdemeanor, three for theft and four for domestic violence." Los Angeles. New York, Chicago, Philadelphia. New Orleans and Washington D.C. are among the many U.S. cities that have experienced major police scandals in the last few years, most involving narcotics enforcement. Los Angeles, in particular, was recently rocked by the worst police scandal in its history — accusations that officers in the city's high-crime, gang-heavy Rampart division engaged in brutality, fabricated evidence and told outright lies in criminal investigation reports, while also stealing money and drugs from felons.
Rising young screenwriter David Ayer grew up in this same area of Los Angeles, where he personally witnessed the ways in which hardened gang members and equally hardened inner city cops danced around one another. Long before the Rampart scandal, Ayer wanted to show how it really is in these war zones within America — and just how hard it is to walk the line between cop and criminal in a
place where neither can afford to show any mercy. In 1995, he began writing a screenplay that would prove to be prophetic.
"I wanted to capture the rough and raw reality of the law enforcement mind-set in inner cities and look at where it comes from and also where it can lead," says Ayer. ' I wanted to ask the question: 'When a cop goes bad, what does it do not only to the man but to the community?"'
While writing Training Day, Ayer unflinchingly immersed himself in the day-to-day rapport between
gang-bangers and undercover officers in Los Angeles' toughest neighborhoods. "I spent a lot of time observing and talking with people who live and work in these areas," he says. "I really wanted to get beneath the surface of what it's like to be a cop out here and how the community looks at them."
Ayer put most of what he learned about how and why cops use down and dirty methods into the character of Alonzo, who he calls "a guy who's so good at his job, it's come at the expense of his soul." He wanted Alonzo to be a seductive character, someone you want to believe in, want to care about, but who exists in a moral gray zone where right and wrong are no longer clear to him. "I myself had many different feelings while writing him," Ayer admits. "There were times when I thought he was the greatest person in the world and other times when I was furious with myself for writing the words he speaks. One thing I knew for sure is that Alonzo himself believes he is right. He doesn't see himself as evil — in his own heart, he has decided that he is doing what is best for everybody."
As a counterpoint, Ayer then created the character of Jake Hoyt, the young rookie who, until this day, had no idea how things really operate in the streets. "The interesting thing is that Jake is who Alonzo used to be. Jake's a young, daisy-fresh rookie from the V
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