Dan Gilroy’s legal thriller Roman J. Israel, Esq. starring Denzel Washington will make its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, completing the event’s Special Presentation lineup.

Dan Gilroy

Gilroy made waves at TIFF three years ago with the world premiere of his gritty crime thriller Nightcrawler, a film that ultimately went on to earn an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and a Golden Globe lead drama actor nod for Jake Gyllenhaal’s stunning performance.

Similar to how Gyllenhaal put in a 180-degree-turn as a sociopath in Nightcrawler, word is that Washington also serves up an amazing transformation as an idealistic defense attorney in Gilroy’s scripted and directed Roman J. Israel, Esq. The Sony feature opens on November 3. Earlier this year, Washington logged his seventh Oscar nomination as an actor for Fences. He previously won twice before for 1989’s Glory in the supporting actor category and 2001’s Training Day in lead actor.

Set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system, Washington’s Roman J. Israel sees his life upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career. Colin Farrell co-stars as the ambitious, money-hungry lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm. Roman J. Israel, Esq. also reteams Washington with lead financiers MACRO and Bron Studios, who co-financed Fences, which earned four Oscar nominations including a supporting actress Oscar win for Viola Davis. 

Toronto International Film Festival

“The Toronto International Film Festival has a wonderful history with both Dan Gilroy and Denzel Washington,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey in a statement. “Three years ago TIFF had the honour of premiering Gilroy’s directorial debut, Nightcrawler, at the festival. In addition to previously screening The Equalizer and presenting the world premiere of Training Day, which earned Washington an Oscar for Best Actor, the Washington-starring The Magnificent Seven was our Opening Night film last year. A project that teams up both of these remarkable creators is one not to be missed.”

“We always hoped to premiere at Toronto and couldn’t be happier that TIFF audiences will be the first to see the film,” said Gilroy. “Thanks to Cameron and the entire festival crew for embracing us and bringing Roman Israel to the world.”

Roman J. Israel, Esq. also stars Carmen Ejogo, Lynda Gravatt, Amanda Warren, Hugo Armstrong, Sam Gilroy, Tony Plana, DeRon Horton and Amari Cheatom. Pic is produced by Jennifer Fox, Todd Black, and Washington. Executive producers are Brian Oliver, Betsy Danbury, Charles D. King, Kim Roth, Poppy Hanks, Michael Bloom, Adam Pincus, Aaron L. Gilbert, Alex Lebovici, Steve Ponce, Derek Dauchy, and Ben Ross. Pic is a co-production with MACRO, Topic, Cross Creek Pictures, Bron Studios, and The Culture China – Image Nation Abu Dhabi Content Fund.

The 42nd Toronto Film Festival runs September 7-17.