How John David Washington’s NFL Background Aided His Performance in Netflix’s Beckett

By | August 14, 2021

Before John David Washington became an acclaimed actor, he had a successful athletic career playing football.

While Washington went undrafted after college, the son of Denzel Washington made the St. Louis Rams practice squad and played for the NFL Europe team Rhein Fire. Washington brought the physicality and toughness he developed on the gridiron into his latest film Beckett, which is out now on Netflix. In the thriller, Washington stars as an American tourist that winds up going on the run in Greece after a tragic accident plunges him into a political conspiracy.

“He drew from his sports background in terms of the physical element, what you believe to be your limits, and then how instinct kicks in and fuels something that you were not expecting,” said director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino to ComingSoon. “All of those things are stuff that he absolutely brought and enriched the character with, including his background in sports. Having said that, to me he’s the most fine, absolutely meticulous performer.”

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Washington also did many of his own stunts for the film, which relied on Beckett being athletic yet not a trained professional.

“We had such a peculiar character for the type of stunts that they were. We want it to maintain coherent this idea that he’s not a trained fighter,” explained Filomarino. “So he will tackle fights as somebody who doesn’t know how to fight and in a way clumsy. But then, of course, he also has this survival energy, which gives him that much extra energy. That said, we also want it to keep track of what happens to a person who goes through this stuff. He sweats, he’s in pain. We keep track of that pain. So all those things were made the stunt work that much more interesting because we kept track of the character and what he was going through as a real human being, as opposed to a superhuman hero of sorts who kind of shrugs it off and keeps running. To top that off John David basically wanted to do all of his own stunts with the exception of a couple of things that were just too dangerous for him to do, which would have been a legal problem. He does everything as you see in the film, he gets run over by a car, and stuff like that. So that made it that much more real. We were envisioning this physical toll of going through all those experiences.”

Beckett is now streaming on Netflix.