Fuqua: 'I still can't pronounce Lee's name'
The Magnificent Seven director Antoine Fuqua just can't get Lee Byung Hun's name correct
Antoine Fuqua has proclaimed Denzel Washington to be one of the greatest actors in the world.
Which is why the US film-maker only had his good friend and regular collaborator in mind when he decided to take on The Magnificent Seven.
"Denzel knew how much I wanted to do (it)," Fuqua said at the movie's press conference held at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore back in June.
"He also knew how much I love Westerns and action movies... He tortured me for a while before he said yes," the 50-year-old added, laughing.
Washington was a natural leader, which helped Fuqua "control" his diverse ensemble cast.
He said: "He was like a sheep herder, silently leading from the back, never the front."
In a separate interview with M, Fuqua revealed another reason why he wanted Washington to be on board: "I just thought how cool it would be to see Denzel on a horse!"
He also wanted to make a film "that's slightly more humorous", which explains Chris Pratt's casting.
"I'm the closet humour guy. I love comedy, but I just make darker movies," he said, laughing.
"I remembered having so much fun watching Seven Samurai when I was young.
"(Director Akira) Kurosawa had a good balance of action, drama and humour... the buffoonery behaviours - I remembered them all."
His only regret so far?
Director Antoine Fuqua (right) and Korean actor Lee Byung Hun (left) on the set of The Magnificent Seven. PHOTO: SONY PICTURES
"I still can't pronounce Lee's (Byung Hun) name properly, even until now!"
Fuqua said he was floored by Lee's performance and charisma in A Bittersweet Life, so much so that when the Korean actor walked into the room to meet with Fuqua, the director instantly knew he had to be in the movie.
"He's just so cool, and he has a great sense of humour too.
"It's simply so embarrassing that I'd get his name wrong every single time I call him. I started calling him Mr Lee, which he didn't like. He said to just call him BH."
A Western is clearly a departure from Fuqua's gritty, urban style, but it is a risk he's willing to take.
"If you are passionate about something, you'll do it the best you can. (The Magnificent Seven) is a big title. The opportunity was presented to me; I didn't want to lose it.
"Hopefully I didn't kill my career!"