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When Jerry Bruckheimer’s name precedes a movie, it usually indicates that the boys will have a good time. Plenty of car chases and explosions abound in his productions and Déjà Vu is no exception. Denzel Washington plays an ATF agent on the trail of a terrorist/murderer, who gets the chance to look into the past to solve a crime.

But there’s plenty for the ladies in Déjà Vu too, and not just Washington’s shirtless scenes. During the investigation, his character falls in love with a murder victim, by spying on her last days in a hi-tech laboratory that allows him to see events that happened four days in the past. Paula Patton plays the murder victim, and the film sizzles on their chemistry.

Director Tony Scott first discovered Patton and asked Washington to meet her. “I read with her, and I was not nervous, but just like, ‘Well, she hasn’t done anything,” he says now of their first meeting. “But she’s a wonderful person, a lot of energy! She’s a lovely girl, she’s a sweetheart, and he was right. She has this quality that you want to care about. You want to take care of her. When it really hit home, and we didn’t get to shoot it until the last month when we came back to L.A., was when we shot all the laboratory stuff. So the love story really evolves or develops with me looking at her on screen, seeing her in her private life. But the camera sure likes her, that’s for sure.”

After Washington’s character learns how to manipulate time, they do share a romantic moment. A relative newcomer with only four prior acting credits, Patton was nervous about co-starring with a two-time Oscar winner.

“We had talked about maybe in that moment when we [might[ kiss, that maybe we should, or maybe we shouldn’t, but we didn’t decide,” Patton confessed to Dish.. “He [Denzel] doesn’t like to plan out anything. And so we were doing the scene, and he goes in for the kiss. And I was a little bit taken aback. I bit his lip. It was like, ‘Oh my God!’ And I thought, ‘Okay, now Denzel thinks I’m a bad kisser. Great.’ So that was one of those moments where I was like, ‘I wish I was a little more prepared. I would have put lip balm on.’”

A large portion of the film features Washington and a bunch of lab rats watching a giant screen, like a Rear Window into the past. Since Washington filmed those scenes last, they retroactively informed his love interest for the time travel scenes he shot previously.

“It would have been interesting had we shot all these scenes of me looking at her first,” said Washington. “I don’t know if that would have changed things, but I already kind of got to know her anyway, the woman, the actress. When I finally saw those scenes, I was like, ‘Whoa,’ especially that one shot where she looks like she’s looking right in my face, with her big face up there. The producers or somebody kept talking about, ‘Well, it’s a love story.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know if it’s all that,’ but that was before those scenes. Once we did those scenes I was like, ‘Okay, it’s a little strange, but that’s what’s unique about this film, is that he meets someone who’s not alive and then gets to spend four days watching her.’”

If this has been hard for you to follow so far, don’t worry. Even the big man, Bruckheimer, had to read the script a few times to catch all the details. Early scenes set up events that pay off once the hero begins manipulating the fabric of time.

“The script was a page burner,” Bruckheimer told Dish. “Once you got about 50 pages into it, you just go, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen?’ I didn’t know it was a time travel story so the minute you see him put his gloves on, and then they say, ‘Your fingerprints are all over the place,’ you say, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’ And the audience has the same reaction. And there are so many things that you really have to see it again to pick up on.”

Bruckheimer gave away one big clue that fans can watch for when they see the film. “When he goes back to her apartment the second time and sees “U Can Save Her” [written on the refrigerator] again and he decides to go back, the camera pans and [a clipping on the bulletin board] says ‘Revival.’ That’s where he gets the idea to revive himself, to go to the hospital. You don’t get that the first time you see it, but it’s all there laid out for you. Nobody gets it. I didn’t get it either.”

Déjà Vu opens Wednesday, November 22. / Issue 64 - September 2018
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