When Oprah decided to produce The Great Debaters, she says she had Denzel in mind to direct the film. "I had my fingers crossed," Oprah says. After reading the script and working with writers to perfect the material, Denzel took his place in the director's chair.
Denzel says the film's story captured his attention from the start. "[The script] was a good read," he says. "Usually if I can just get through it pretty quickly and just feel good about it, then I know it's good for me. ... Sometimes you don't get through [a script]."
During his first reading, Denzel admits he got a little choked up during the final scenes. "When I got to the end and [read] the speech this young boy makes, I was getting a little teary eyed," he says. "I just thought it was unique and a story that I didn't know anything about."
After acting in more than 30 films, Denzel says he was ready to move on and try his hand at directing again. He produced and directed his first feature film, Antwone Fisher, in 2002.