When the movie A matter of details was written, Denzel Washington had just won his first Oscar, Jared Leto was just arriving in Hollywood to make a name for himself, and Rami Malek was barely out of elementary school.
Thirty years later, the three actors, all now Oscar winners, have joined forces to bring to the screen this dark and twisting crime thriller, which releases Friday in the United States, simultaneously in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
A matter of details is set against the backdrop of the 1990 Los Angeles criminal community and its underworld. Its main protagonists: a semi-retired cop (Denzel Washington) who teams up with a brilliant young sergeant (Rami Malek) to hunt down the suspect in a series of bloody murders (Jared Leto).
This set of aces allowed the director, John Lee Hancock, to dust off his screenplay, adapt the dialogues and adjust the characters to the stars of the moment while keeping the plot in the early 1990s, a time when cell phones and DNA investigation techniques were still in their infancy.
“You don’t imagine the character the first time you read the script, you have to find it,” says Denzel Washington. “You are introduced to the character when you read the script, but that’s just the very beginning of the job.”
For the Oscar-winning actor, it was about giving Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon a dark past and boundless devotion to the policing profession, with no regard for any personal life or those who get in the way. of its route.
A disillusioned old policeman, a young detective as talented as he is ambitious: the recipe might seem worn out. But from the start, John Lee Hancock had envisioned this film as a dark and macabre response to the clichés of films featuring police duos, recuperating this genre on purpose in order to better “subvert” it.
Everything here is in chiaroscuro, the suspect, the clues, and the two vigilantes grapple with their own demons as they desperately attempt to incapacitate the murderer.
This is after having achieved success in 2009 with The Blind Side that John Lee Hancock was convinced to rework his screenplay by the producer of breaking Bad, Mark Johnson.
Washington joined the project because he found the writing “different”. For Rami Malek, it became “obvious” once Washington signed on, and he was happy to see Jared Leto complete the “explosive energy” generated by the trio.
“At one point I thought I still explored the dark side of the universe a lot in my career, maybe it’s time I quit,” explained Leto, Oscar winner for his role of HIV-positive transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club. “But after seeing this opportunity pass, I couldn’t say no.”
“Under our tent”
Even though the action takes place three decades ago – with shots of iconic Los Angeles landmarks untouched by the passage of time – the actors believe that through their flaws, the characters tell a universal story.
“When obsession takes over a lot of other aspects of your life… this year has probably taught us a lot about it,” says Rami Malek.
“We get so fixated on things, so narrow-minded, with blinders on what to accomplish in life… maybe we start to overlook the most important things,” he continues.
Jared Leto did not wait for the arrival of the coronavirus to take a step back. He had embarked on a silent retreat in the desert when the pandemic hit the United States, and only discovered the extent of the tragedy very late.
“When I left, there were only 150 cases in America, and we had no phone, no contact between us … when I left, it was containment and a state of emergency” , he recalls.
For Denzel Washington, deeply spiritual, the pandemic is evoked by the Bible in the Book of Exodus, when God “unleashes the plague and sends every man, woman and child back to his tent”.
“We were all sent back to our tents,” he said. “And if in coming out, we are not careful, if we do not treat our neighbor as we would like him to treat us, we will all be destroyed”, launches the actor.