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Denzel Washington says becoming Roman J. Israel Esq. was "a great opportunity to have fun"

Glen Wilson/Columbia Pictures
Glen Wilson/Columbia Pictures

(NEW YORK) — Denzel Washington takes on the larger-than-life role of Roman J. Israel, an intelligent yet quirky attorney, in the legal thriller Roman J. Israel Esq.

Washington, who also serves as a producer on the project, says the savant-like Israel wasn’t necessarily written to be autistic, but through his research he discovered what exactly made his character tick.

“It was more of the research that I started doing and the behavior that I felt he had that led me down that road,” Washington tells ABC Radio. “Doing a lot of research about the [autism] spectrum, about autism and Asperger’s. And so that’s the direction I went with.”

In the film, Roman serves as a Los Angeles attorney who takes a job at a notable law firm after the death of his longtime partner. While there, he discovers disturbing things about the firm’s practices.

Washington says he took the role as Roman because he felt not only drawn to the film, but to what he could do with its character.

“[It was] just a good script,” Washington says. “First of all, it wasn’t a story I hadn’t heard — not a true story — but it was a wonderful story and a great character to play. A great opportunity to have fun.”

Roman J. Israel, Esq. is now showing in limited release.

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