The 61-year-old actor and his co-star Viola Davis both starred in playwright August Wilson’s Broadway production of Fences in 2010, which eventually lead to Denzel deciding to direct it for the silver screen. He reprises the role of Troy, a father who after missing out on his professional baseball dream must work around the clock to provide for his family, son Cory (Jovan Adepo) and wife Rose, played once again by Viola.

Despite being familiar with the tale, Denzel was still nervous to helm the movie.

“I didn’t have the anxiety of, ‘Is this going to work?’ For me, the anxiety was, ‘Am I going to screw it up?’” he explained to Deadline. “I wasn’t searching for Troy, or trying to reinvent him. We had to catch up Jovan as Cory and the little girl (Saniyya Sidney); they were the two new actors. She is a firecracker. We did the scene, when they’re singing and then Jovan starts breaking down. I said, ‘Look, you just take care of your big brother.’ She was like, ‘OK.’ And she gives him the hug and did all that stuff. She’s just so innocent, she doesn’t even realise she’s under pressure.”

The pressure is now off for Denzel, though he’ll soon be experiencing a different kind of stress when he goes head-to-head with actors like Casey Affleck and Andrew Garfield for the Best Actor gong at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. The 2017 Oscar nominees have not yet been revealed.

While filming Fences, double-Oscar winner Denzel drew on his childhood memories to help him get into character.

“I didn’t understand it then, but I remember (my dad) sitting in the driveway, with his foot out of the car, the door open, listening to the baseball game. When I got older I realised, this was the only time he got to himself,” Denzel recalled. “He leaves the job, then he’s got to come home and eat, change, listen to my mother, and then go to the next job, you know, his night job. So, that time in the driveway, listening to the ball game, was his only time to himself probably.”