Dakota Fanning on Reuniting With Denzel Washington for 'Equalizer 3': 'It's a Dream Come True' (Exclusive)

ET spoke with the 'Equalizer 3' star alongside Washington and director Antoine Fuqua at 2023's CinemaCon.

Nineteen years after they starred together in 2004's Man on FireDenzel Washington and Dakota Fanning are reuniting onscreen.

Fanning stars alongside Washington as he reprises his role as the justice-driven Robert McCall for The Equalizer 3, the final entry in the film adaptation of the '80s television series of the same name. The Equalizer films star Washington as a retired U.S. Marine and former DIA officer, whose desire to dole out justice in his own way and help those being oppressed often pulls him back into dangerous missions. The first premiered in theaters in 2014 and the second in 2018. 

Although Fanning hasn't starred in previous Equalizer films, she was more than excited about working with her former co-star again. "I think it's so rare to get to work with someone when you're nine years old and then work with them again when you're [in your 20s]," the actress tells ET about the experience at CinemaCon 2023. The 29-year-old says that working with Washington again was like "a dream come true."

"I'm a fan of the first two films, so getting to join it and be a little part of it was really amazing," she adds. 

Equalizer 3 has a similar plot as its predecessors, following Washington's McCall as he struggles to reconcile the horrific things he's done in the past and finds a strange solace in serving justice on behalf of the oppressed. Finding himself surprisingly at home in Southern Italy, he discovers his new friends are under the control of local crime bosses. As events turn deadly, McCall knows what he has to do: become his friends' protector by taking on the mafia.

Sonia Ben Ammar, Remo Girone and Gaia Scodellaro star in the film alongside Washington and Fanning.

Fanning shares that she plays "a kind of low-level CIA agent who gets a mysterious phone call" from someone wanting to tip her off to the bloody dealings in Itay. "She meets McCall and has to figure out why he called her and what is really going on," she says. "[I] get to go toe-to-toe a little bit with Denzel, which is always fun... Getting to work with the best, you absorb the best, you know?"

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Washington shares similar sentiments about returning to the franchise, telling ET "it's unfinished business," when asked what inspired his return to the film series.

He adds, "You know, the doormen in my building in New York, they love this guy. I talk to them about other films [and] they're like, 'Oh yeah, Fences, yeah, good movie. But when is the next [Equalizer?]' I'm like, 'Why do you love him?' He says, 'Cause he can get the people we can't get, you know? He's the equalizer. He goes and gets revenge on those who need a more then a good talking to.' So, I'm just the guy for the job."

As fun as the actor has had reuniting with director Antoine Fuqua -- for the fifth time -- and Fanning -- for the first time in 18 years -- he's adamant that Equalizer 3 is his final time stepping into the proverbial ring as Robert McCall. 

"This is the end for me. It may not be the end, they may do another one, but it's the end for me," he tells ET, joking that even a "massive check" wouldn't sway him. "Never say never, but you never know..."

Fuqua shares that he and Washington never really thought of the films "as a franchise," but rather tackled each project as its own entity each time they came together.

"It was just [the] same conversation we had [for] one and two. We never thought about it as a franchise, it's a film on its own. It's a part of a franchise, but it's a film on its own," he explains, later adding that they didn't even speak about how the previous films relate to the third movie. "So we dealt with it that way. That's what we talked about. Just this film, we don't talk about one and two. [They're] done." 

That explains why the duo jokes they can't even recall McCall's kill count at this point. "What is the population of Italy? He's killed more than strands of spaghetti in a decent pasta, than grains of rice in a mean risotto," Washington says, laughing. 

The Equalizer 3 premieres in theaters on Sept. 1.