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Eva Mendes, Denzel Washington, ...

(Out of Time: Nicola Goode)

Denzel Washington, fresh from directing and starring in ”Antwone Fisher,” plays the police chief of a small Florida key who finds himself unjustly accused of a double homicide. Soon, the race is on to find the real killer.

So the plot sounds cliché, but with Carl Franklin in charge (he and Washington worked together on 1995?s ”Devil in a Blue Dress”), things aren?t always as they seem. ?It wasn?t written for a black actor, and it certainly wasn?t written for Denzel,? says Franklin, who did significant but uncredited work on the script. ?There were several attempts before Washington was interested.?

The Killer Moment According to Franklin, it’s not a love scene that generates the most heat, but a showdown between Washington and Dean Cain in a bar.

Sanaa Lathan (”Love & Basketball”) and Washington – not to mention ”2 Fast 2 Furious”? Eva Mendes – are in charge of the aforementioned steam quotient, although that sweat you see on Lathan?s brow could be from having learned she?d scored the biggest role of her career only a week before filming began. ?I did the screen test and they had 10 days to tell me,? says the actress. ?They waited until the 10th day.? The holdup? It wasn?t only about chemistry, Franklin insists. The director wanted to be sure his actress was ?a strong, sensual, and sexy woman?mature enough to play Denzel?s contemporary.? And while Lathan is 17 years younger than the 48-year-old Washington, Franklin assures us Washington is ?playing young.? Do they give Oscars for that?

Originally posted August 15 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT

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