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Denzel Washington recalls racial tension in Boston visit

Actor Denzel Washington, right, listens to director Antoine Fuqua speak during a press conference for "The Equalizer" at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. AP

Before coming to Boston to shoot “The Equalizer” last year, actor Denzel Washington did not have terribly fond memories of the city.

Speaking at a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival, Washington told the media that three decades ago, he was involved in a fight in Boston while in town to see his wife perform in the musical show “The All Night Strut!”

“The last real fight I had was in Boston,” said the two-time Oscar winner. “She was doing the show and I came up to visit her, and security tried to suggest I was a pimp and she was a prostitute and I couldn’t stay in the room. . . . Security came to the door . . . and it was on. I didn’t know how to fight, but I knew how to win. . . . That was the taste in my mouth about Boston.”


Washington then asked if there’s still racial tension in the city, and panel moderator Elvis Mitchell, a film critic who’s been a visiting Harvard professor, responded, “I’m not going to say.” (He later joked that Washington’s talk included some “tips for the Boston tourist board.”)

But “The Equalizer” director Antoine Fuqua said he enjoyed making the film in Boston, saying it was a perfect location to update the ’80s show on which the movie’s based.

“I personally fell in love with the place. . . . New York just felt like it would be too big of a character itself. . . . Boston’s got Harvard and it’s got the harbor. . . . While we were filming, everything was happening in Boston, unfortunately. The bombing . . . Whitey Bulger.”

Chloë Grace Moretz, who costars in “The Equalizer,” told the Globe, “I had been to Boston for an audition when I was 13. I didn’t get the part, but I liked Boston a lot because I love history. I was only there for a month with ‘The Equalizer’ last year, but we did go on a couple of ghost tours. And I love crab, so I went to the Barking Crab a lot. And I went to a lot of Italian restaurants. I ate a lot of food in Boston.”


Meanwhile, Justin Long, who stars in Kevin’s Smith’s new film “Tusk,” playing a podcaster who’s turned into a walrus by a mad scientist, said he spent a little time in Boston this summer while appearing in “Living on Love” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Long said he paid a visit to his girlfriend Amanda Seyfried, who’d just started filming Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted 2” with Mark Wahlberg in Boston.

“It was a fun set,” said Long. “And Mark was there, so I had my first Wahlburger. It was delicious!”

Press conference stream:

“The Equalizer” trailer: