Sony Pictures devoted its entire session at Deadline’s 7th annual The Contenders all-day awards-season kickoff event to the new drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. which opens wide this weekend. Star Denzel Washington and writer-director Dan Gilroy joined me onstage at the DGA Theater in front of a packed crowd of Academy and key guild voters for a conversation about where Washington’s unique character came from — a socially backward activist who really has never left the spirit of the 1960s behind.
Gilroy also talks about how he flew to NYC to convince Washington to take the part; the Oscar-winner says it was all on the page, and that is what convinced him. He also talks researching the autism spectrum and particularly Asperger’s to develop the character, who sports a serious Afro as well.
Music also plays a big part in the film, and Washington with his iPod collection of thousands of songs played a key role in which tunes would make the cut.
Check out our conversation above.