Denzel Washington Negotiating Antagonist Role In 'Safe House'

Denzel Washington can make a hell of a bad guy, and he's now negotiating a new role where he'd play the antagonist — a lethal prisoner, in fact — in a buzzed-about script called Safe House.David Guggenheim's story was snagged by Universal in a bidding war, and has Snabba Cash director Daniel Espinosa set to helm. Vulture reports that Washington is the negotiating for one of two roles in the film. As the site explains,

Set in South America, Safe House follows a young U.S. intelligence agent who must go on the run with a newly arrived prisoner (Denzel's potential role) after his titular safe house comes under attack — think of a mix between Collateral and Three Days of the Condor.

OK, good enough for me. Denzel Washington is one of the most powerful screen presences we've got, and while I like that he doesn't always choose the most obvious projects, if he chose some better material I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about his recent career. Another Tony Scott movie? Please, no. Like The Book of Eli, this could be a step in the right direction. (Washington's next movie is the Tony Scott-directed Unstoppable, due this fall.) And with the Snabba Cash director on board? Yeah, that's interesting. See the Snabba Cash trailer here.

The downside here is that the whole deal is kind of morbid. Washington's long-time agent passed away over the weekend, and this project is reportedly getting the full-court press from WME in order to keep the actor with the agency. I.e. it's "see, we can throw you a big movie with a big payday, even without your old friend." I know that's the way Hollywood works — when crisis hits, throw money around — but it's still icky.

(And yes, I recognize the inherent, ugly irony of criticizing Washington's recent picks just before talking about the death of the man who put some of them together. That's also the way Hollywood works. Sometimes it's so easy to hate the process.)