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THE GREAT DEBATERS

Denzel Washington, Director
Producer Kate Forte experienced Denzel's formidable presence throughout the making of the film. "The synergy on the film was palpable. Firstly, it was amazing to observe Denzel direct. He was so confident, so prepared, so focused and energized. He is as good a director as he is an actor—which says a lot!!!”

John Heard, who plays the "bad guy” role of Sheriff Dozier, proposes, "When actors become ‘big-time' and embrace something that means something special to them, that's when I take notice. Denzel Washington directing this movie makes it an honor to be a part of his cast.” 

"This is our third movie together. Previously, we only acted together,” smiles Kimberly Elise who worked with Denzel Washington on John Q and The Manchurian Candidate. She continues, "I love Denzel's honesty and have a great deal of trust for him as a director. He'll challenge me to find something new, something different. It's like an athlete working with a great trainer who's only going to take what you have already and make it stronger and better because he knows it's there.” 

Forest Whitaker who has stepped behind the camera a few times himself, praises, Denzel "as a filmmaker who seems very confident, very clear, very sure.”

He reveals, "Denzel was very comfortable from the beginning. I remember the first day when he was getting ready; he just seemed so relaxed. He was ready to make this film and had done a lot of work.”

Whitaker acknowledges, "I liked it that he brought us all in early so we could rehearse before we starting filming. It gave us the chance to figure out how to shape the character before shooting onto film.”

His crew was equally glowing with compliments for Denzel Washington as a director.

Production Designer David Bomba chimes, "What's been so wonderful about this experience is the collaboration. Not only does Denzel give you the most amazing information to work from and to push you towards, but working with Costume Designer Sharen Davis & Cinematographer Philippe Rousselot—it's a magical collaboration—I've been having the time of my life!”

The sound mixer, two-time Academy Award® winner Willie Burton (Dreamgirls, Bird) offers, "My first experience with Denzel as a director was Antwone Fisher and I was really impressed with how he did for his first time. He was prepared and ready to go. I thought that was pretty incredible because I've worked with a lot of first-time directors and they were not as prepared as Denzel.”

Burton continues, "Now with The Great Debaters, I knew Denzel was good, but I'm amazed at how much he's grown and how great he is on a film like this. If I had to rate him among all the directors I've worked with in Hollywood, in my book he's considered a great director—he knows what he wants, he's prepared, he's on top of it—plus he's talented!”

Washington has his own take on his ease of being behind the camera, "I've been around a long time and I've worked with some of the best directors in the history of the business.”

As for the job of directing, Washington admits, "I really enjoy being behind the camera and I enjoy seeing other people do well. I enjoy that more than acting—much more—there's no comparison!”

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