Denzel Washington repeatedly turned down his upcoming role in Broadway's FENCES for years - because he was convinced he was too young to follow in the footsteps of James Earl Jones.
In April (10), Washington will thread the boards in New York and reprise Jones' 1987 role as patriarch Troy Maxson in the August Wilson revival - which centres around U.S. race-relations in the 1950s.
But Washington continually declined to star in the Tony-winning play until he could realistically follow-up acting legend Jones, who at 79, is 24 years his senior.
Producer Scott Rudin says, "Denzel and I have been having conversations about this one role for years. This was no sudden thought. A long time ago he met August Wilson at Wilson's home in Seattle. It was a rainy afternoon, and they spent time talking. And he loved this particular play. He always wanted to do it 'one day.'
"The reason it was 'one day' was because Denzel's role in Fences is that of the patriarch father. The character is 54. Denzel didn't think he was old enough. So many years have passed and we've talked about it so long."
And it wasn't until Washington earned a boost of confidence from his role in Broadway's 2005 revival of Julius Caesar that he finally agreed to the project.
Rudin adds,"He's already done Broadway in 2005 as Brutus in a Julius Caesar revival, so that he now feels he's old enough."