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Los Angeles — Antoine Fuqua doesn’t think of “The Equalizer 2” as a follow-up film to his 2014 offering “The Equalizer.” Yes, they both feature Denzel Washington taking on the role of Robert McCall.

The two films are built around the idea — first established in “The Equalizer” TV series in the ’80s — that McCall unselfishly helps the helpless.

Fuqua knows these elements would serve in any dictionary as an exact definition for what it means to be a follow-up film. What the Pennsylvania native is referring to is his approach to making “The Equalizer 2” was no different than any other movie he’s directed since his initial big screen offering, “The Replacement Killers,” in 1998.

“I just try to take each script on its own merit and make the best movie I can,” he says. “It’s dangerous to try to outdo yourself or try to do the same thing. You just have to make that movie the best it can be and make sure the character — because it is a continuation — has the same DNA as the other one.”

There was really no pressure on Fuqua to make sure the DNA of the character was the same as he had two-time Oscar winner Washington in the lead role. The pair’s history of working together goes back to 2001 when Fuqua directed Washington to his second Oscar with “Training Day.” They spent a lot of time talking about the role of McCall before filming “The Equalizer.”

That new film takes McCall from working in a hardware store to being a Lyft driver. This helped Fuqua and writer Richard Wenk find a balance of one major mission for McCall mixed with a series of smaller jobs that most likely came from what he heard while driving.

Not only does his new job give McCall a natural way to find out about people in need as they talk in the backseat of his car, it also gave the director a chance to focus on one of Washington’s greatest acting skills: his ability to get across a multitude of emotions with his face and eyes.

Actors who have worked for Fuqua praise his willingness to listen to their suggestions and being available as much as possible to talk about the best way to play a scene.

He met Washington before filming started on “Training Day.”

“He said to me ‘Let’s never tie each other’s hands.’ The idea was that we would agree to trust each other,” Fuqua says.

Read the review

‘The Equalizer 2’ opens Friday. Read Adam Graham’s review in Friday’s On Screen section.

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