Unstoppable star Denzel Washington remembers days following 9/11

Posted on 27 November 2010
By Prarie Miller
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In an exclusive interview with Purple Revolver Denzel Washington has spoken about his own personal terror in the wake of 9/11 and his experiences at Ground Zero at the World Trade Centre site, just a few days after the terrible events occured.

The Unstoppable star, a native New Yorker said: “I was at Ground Zero, the first day that they allowed planes to fly. Not commercial flights, even before that, they allowed private planes to fly.”

“So it happened on a Tuesday and on the Friday, I was in New York at Ground Zero as close as you could get looking down in the hole. In retrospect, for everyone involved, it was such a traumatic experience.”

Denzel discussed how the emergency services were stretched to the limit in the immediate aftermath, the people who were there working around the clock seemed totally exhausted, trying to find survivors in the wreckage.

He said: “I would see certain people just sitting there exhausted because these men and women on the front line had already been working a couple of days straight.”

“In fact, the guy that was walking me around, he had lost his voice just from tension and/or from the dust. I remember I collected up some of the dust and I put it in a little bag. I took it home. I still have it.”

The Oscar winning actor spoke of his discomfiture being asked to take pictures around the disaster site, in the wake of such earth shattering events that happened on the 11th of September.

He said: “It was weird because people were asking me to take pictures. I was like, ‘Well, you know, I don’t want to do that at a time like this.’ But the guy was like, ‘No, no, no, that’s helping them to feel a little better. So if you could do that.’ I just wanted to do all I could.”

Denzel recalls his feelings approaching the disaster space: “My thinking was, you get there, you want to do something, but when you get there it’s like, what can you really do? Number one, you look at the size of this thing and you go, ‘My God.’ Where do you begin? And you look around and you started seeing things like, ‘Are those people way down there?’”

“You see flashlights way underneath the rubble. Its like so many brave men and women that were just unafraid, trying to do their best. Then there arrows pointing to things that they had painted. I said, ‘What is that?’ ‘Body parts’ a guy said. It was hard to comprehend the horror of it all.”

The events of that week changed Mr. Washington’s life for ever as he continued: “You know, I’m a native New Yorker to the day I die and I had to be there. I was stunned and in a big way it changed me. I was supposed to start directing and I did in another couple of weeks after that, three weeks after that. I couldn’t move like a lot of people.”

Denzel Washington is about to star in the new action movie blockbuster, Unstoppable, which centres around a veteran locomotive engineer trying to prevent a disaster of his own, as a freight train full of combustible fluid and poisonous gas hurtles towards an unsuspecting town.

The new film also stars the likes of Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson and Kevin Dunn and is due for release on the big screen in the UK Nov 2010.