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Denzel Washington Says He Has A Script For A Biopic Of Legendary Jazz Pianist Thelonious Monk, Also Considering A Comedy

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by Oliver Lyttelton
February 13, 2012 6:51 AM
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Denzel Washington Thelonious Monk

The blockbuster opening of "Safe House" over the weekend, the second biggest of Denzel Washington's career, serves as a reminder that he remains, in the U.S. at least, one of the most consistently reliable box-office draws around. His films do have a cap on them, to be sure, but few other stars consistently bring in an audience the way Denzel does, and "Safe House" serves as a reminder that he's not going away any time soon, even if the film didn't rank among our five favorite of his performances.

And as ever, a big solid hit gives you a little more cache to do what you want, and it seems that Washington has an idea of what that might be. In an interview with The Observer, Washington reveals that he has ambitions to play jazz legend Thelonious Monk, has a script in place, and says that "I'm talking about it more, so maybe I'm talking myself into it." Monk, of course, was the pianist and composer behind standards like "Round Midnight" and "Straight No Chaser," whose inventive, idiosyncratic style helped to make him the second most recorded jazz artist in history,

This isn't the first time that Washington's been linked to the role; back in 2007, "El Cantante" director Leon Ichaso told MTV that he wanted Washington or Wesley Snipes to play the musician in a biopic, but it's unclear whether Ichaso is still involved, or if the actor is considering making this his third directorial effort, following "Antwone Fisher" and "The Great Debaters." It's also unclear what period of Monk's life it might focus on, but given the youthful-looking Washington is 58, it's likely it might follow the mental health issues that plagued the pianist in the later stages of his life.

The actor also told the paper that he's "hovering" over a comedy, which would mark the first time the actor's tackled the genre since, arguably, "The Preacher's Wife" in 1996; as the actor says, "I've done some that have turned out to be tragedies." There's no further details on that project, but we're assuming that it's not "2 Guns," the actioner the actor's attached to alongside Mark Wahlberg. Still, it's good to see that, alongside the Robert Zemeckis drama "Flight," which will land later in the year, Washington's considering departing from his comfort zone a little more.

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