Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning on the Family Connection That Kept Them in Touch for 20 Years (Exclusive)

The pair, who first starred together in 2004's 'Man on Fire,' reunite in 'The Equalizer 3.'

Dakota Fanning wasn't even 10 years old yet when she stepped in front of a camera with Hollywood legend Denzel Washington in 2004's Man on Fire, but he's been impressed with her ever since.

"She knows how to hit the ball back over the net," Washington raves of Fanning in ET's behind-the-scenes look at The Equalizer 3. "Sky's the limit for her."

The pair reunite in the upcoming third installment of Washington's action franchise, and the Oscar winner said acting opposite Fanning as an adult this time around was a slightly surreal experience.

"It was weird, you know, 'cause I'm like, 'Oh she's a grown woman,'" he shared. "She was like a grown woman then, but now she's a grown woman. And, you know, obviously a great talent... It wasn't really strange, 'cause she was bringing it."

Equalizer 3 is the first time in nearly 20 years that the pair has shared the screen together, but Washington revealed that they've stayed in touch "vicariously" as Fanning is friends with one of his daughters from their time together at New York University.

"I've obviously, you know, known Denzel for a big part of my life, and one of his daughters is one of my closest friends, so I'm always in the loop," the actress shared.

As for their acting reunion, Fanning noted, "There is definitely no one better to go up against than Denzel."

"It's been almost 20 years and I was quite young [in Man on Fire], but that's not an experience that one forgets," she continued. "The second time, I felt the same, like, my body felt the same feeling that I remember feeling all those years ago -- excitement and a little bit of nerves and wanting to be as prepared as possible. He definitely is an actor that keeps you on your toes constantly."

Fanning previously told ET that catching up with Washington during filming in Italy and reconnecting onscreen was a "dream come true."

"He has always been so good to me and kind to me, and I feel such a connection to him because he's known me for so long," she added in ET's behind-the-scenes look. "It's most people's dream to get to work with him once, so to get to work with him twice at different stages in my life is a real treat."

The Equalizer 3, directed by longtime Washington collaborator Antoine Fuqua, finds Washington's retired Marine and DIA officer Robert McCall trying to leave his violent past behind by relocating to Southern Italy. But when old adversaries track him down, McCall is forced to call back his brutal history.  

"He got addicted to so-called justice and crossed the line to unnecessary violence," the actor shared of his character's vigilante history. "He pays a price and the way he pays is the most unique way. He has to look in the mirror, he has to look at his own heart and I don't think he's necessarily happy at what he sees."

"Every sinner has a future, every saint has a past and he has, as we all have, have sinned extensively," he added. "It's about his, not redemption, but hopefully salvation, and about him opening his heart."

The Equalizer 3 is in theaters Sept. 1.