Share forbidden romance in suspense thriller ‘Out of Time’

Denzel Washington & Sanaa Lathan: share forbidden romance in suspense thriller ‘Out of Time’

Anytime Denzel Washington is the eading man in a movie, you can expect it to be powerful. And anytime Sanaa Lathan is the leading lady in a film, you can expect it to be sexy.

Put them in a movie together and you’ll get the MGM romantic suspense thriller Out of Time. The movie hits theaters this week.

Washington is Matt Lee Whitlock, a Banyan Key, FL, police chief who is estranged from his detective wile, Alex (Eva Mendes). Lathan is Ann Merai Harrison, Matt’s lover who is unhappily married to an ex-NFL player-turned morgue security guard, Chris (Dean Cain).

Matt and Ann attempt to escape their woes by finding comfort in each other’s arms. Then, something bizarre happens. Matt’s world crumbles when a double homicide begins to unravel evidence that points to him as the culprit.

“For me, in terms of my character, the picture is really about temptation, and what can happen when you give in to it,” says Washington. “It’s about sticking your hand in the cookie jar and it turns out to be full of fire. When you go out there and do some thing you know you shouldn’t be doing, there are consequences. Though he’s trying to help someone, trying to do good, Matt makes a couple of very bad mistakes.”

The movie, directed by Carl Franklin, was initially written for White leading characters. Lathan’s role as Ann was written for an older woman as well.

“The original script that I read described in it this skinny, bleached blond, sexy soccer morn,” Lathan tells JET during a phone interview. “When Denzel and Carl signed on, that made it an option for other races to come in. I auditioned for Carl. It came down to four girls doing a screen test with Denzel.”

Franklin, who worked with Washington on Devil in a Blue Dress, opted for nontraditional casting because of availability.

“Denzel was interested, and if Denzel wants to do it, you definitely want him,” Franklin chuckles to JET. “It’s a fast-paced enjoyable ride and it’s interesting to see African-American actors in a mixed situation where race is not the point.”

Lathan has worked with some of Hollywood’s hottest hunks: Wesley Snipes (Disappearing Acts), Taye Diggs (Brown Sugar and The Best Man) and Omar Epps (Love & Basketball). She describes her role of Ann as one of the most “sensual characters” she’s ever played. And getting the chance to work with the Black Adonnis of the silver screen was like icing on the cake.

‘The first couple of days on the set I had to check myself. I’m rarely starstruck, but it was more like, ‘Wow, look at how amazing he is,” she says. “But in order to do the scenes, I had to let all that go. I had to let that go and say he’s just another actor who is in a scene with me.”

Her first meeting with Washington was during an audition. Five minutes after the encounter, they were doing a love scene.

“Love scenes can be nerve-wracking. Although they come off as intimate, it’s a very awkward kind of thing on the set. You’re surrounded by all these people and you’re doing this scene in bits and pieces. You’re worried about the choreography and the lines. It’s ongoing and you want to get it right. It’s always a lot harder than it seems, and that’s so true.”

Franklin says that Sanaa’s commanding screen presence made her an easy choice for the role Ann.

“She carries the weight of much of the dramatic scenes,” says Franklin. “She has a lot of the very difficult emotional scenes. Already coating into this film, she had established herself as quite a strong dramatic actress. She’s beautiful and sensuous. We needed that for the heat between them. So much of the action comes out of that relationship. It had to be strong sexually because he’s in love with his wife. It couldn’t just be romance. She has an authority as a woman that we needed in order for people to believe she was his contemporary.”

Lathan had her own training day on the set with Washington, a two time Oscar winner. “He’s just the ultimate perfectionist. He never stops until he gets it right and he won’t settle for anything less. It was great watching him.”

Washington also had words of praise for his co-star. “Sanaa is very interesting, very bright. She’s a really nice girl. I’ve had a wonderful time with her. She’s very pleasant to be around, very professional-and very talented. It’s a complicated role she’s playing, and she did a great job with it.”

Moviegoers will be on the edge of their seats throughout the movie. The tension and urgency that Washington’s character exhibits makes it a sheer thriller.

“It’s just entertainment,” says Franklin, “but if there is a message, it’s: Don’t mess around on your wife.”

COPYRIGHT 2003 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group