Before he became known as a leading man on the big screen, Denzel Washington showed off his acting chops on the stellar hospital drama St. Elsewhere. And although he hasn’t returned to TV very much in the past 25 years, he’s coming back in a big way, as he’s got a huge project lined up for HBO that will last for at least the next decade. Say what?
The estate of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson has come to an agreement with Washington that will allow him to adapt all ten of Wilson’s plays in his highly acclaimed Pittsburgh Cycle series. And Washington intends to bring one play to HBO every year until they’ve all been completed. Here’s how he put it at a recent Q&A with Todd Boyd, called “An Evening with Denzel Washington,” according to Deadline.
I’m directing, producing and acting in one (Fences), and I’m executive producing the other nine. I’m really excited about that – that [the estate] would put that in my hands and trust me. That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The way he words it, it’s unclear at this point if he will only be involved as an executive producer for the next nine installments, especially since his film career would likely cause some scheduling issues. But we certainly hope that he’ll be as involved as possible. Washington previously directed The Great Debaters and Antwone Fisher, so we know he’s comfortable behind the camera.
Each of The Pittsburgh Cycle’s plays takes place in a different decade of the 1900s, and nine are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District (with one in Chicago). Each is centered in the same African American neighborhood and portrays what the Black experience was like there as time shifted through the twentieth century. While the stories aren’t necessarily built upon one another, there are characters that are woven through different installments, which should be interesting once casting gets underway. Speaking of…
Washington confirmed that Fences, the play that takes place in the 1950s, will also feature How to Get Away with Murder star Viola Davis. The two also starred in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of the play in 2010, and both took home Tony Awards for their performances.
There’s no telling when Washington and the rest of the creative team will get to working on bringing August Wilson’s works to HBO, but we can presume it’ll happen after the actor is finished with Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven. He was last seen in The Equalizer last year, and while it has a sequel that’s currently in the works, we’re not sure if that film or his HBO deal would take precedence. Whichever way it goes, more Denzel is never a bad thing.