Antoine Fuqua, Director and Producer

Kevin Goetz sits down with renowned Hollywood director Antoine Fuqua. The two discuss Fuqua’s extraordinary path from the tough streets of Pittsburgh to directing blockbusters and working with some of the greatest actors of our time. Fuqua opens up about his encounter with gun violence at age 15, which shaped his artistic style and pursuit of cinematic realism. He shares behind-the-scenes stories about working with Denzel Washington in Training Day, the value he gleans from test screenings, and his upcoming Michael Jackson biopic. Fuqua also provides insight into his intense focus on actors, self-criticism, and mission to keep evolving as a director who can capture the human condition under pressure.

Childhood Shooting

Fuqua recalls being randomly shot at age 15 while running an errand in Pittsburgh. The traumatic event gave him a visceral sense of violence and mortality. He remembers the shooting like a vivid movie scene engraved in his mind.

I saw the guy, it was raining, pouring down, raining, and I was running in between houses, and the guy was about maybe 50 yards, 30 yards up the alleyway, and something just said, run.

Acting Process

Fuqua explains his deep reverence for actors. Fuqua believes in giving actors space to use their own creative process and not interfering in their “magic.”

Fuqua on actors:

When it’s done well, it moves you. I remember the actors that moved me growing up…the emotions, I remember the first time I saw Out of Africa, things that moved me that I didn’t directly connect to in my life, but the emotions that were coming off the screen were affecting me.

“In the Moment Filmmaking” with Denzel Washington

Fuqua shares a story from Training Day when he was so absorbed watching Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke improvise in character that he forgot to call “cut.” He stresses filmmakers must sometimes “get out of their own way” and just feel unscripted moments unfold.

Test Screenings

The pair discuss test screenings, and Fuqua shares that even though he is tortured by the test screening process, he considers it a blessing. Fuqua discusses his love for the audience and how the feedback exposes blind spots and forces him to see the film through their eyes.

Fuqua on test screenings:

And you have to remember, as you said, we’re making it for them. So as much as, believe me, I’m tortured when I have to do test screenings, tortured because it’s not fixed yet, but I know how important it is, so I suck it up, and I sit there, and by the end of it, you and I talk in the studio, and I go thank God we’re doing this because I didn’t see that.

Michael Jackson Biopic

Fuqua reveals details on his upcoming Michael Jackson biography produced by Graham King. He was drawn to the project by Jackson’s global impact and complicated life. Fuqua aims to look beyond tabloid headlines to capture the man underneath.

Men Under Pressure

Fuqua discusses men under pressure, a major theme in his filmmaking, and how he is drawn to telling stories about people making tough choices that test their morals and define their character. Kevin connects this to Fuqua’s childhood experiences in Pittsburgh.

It’s a decision process that I believe men have to make sometimes without specific guidance. Meaning you can get advice, you can get counsel, but to make a moral decision, to make decisions when you are under pressure, starts to define who you are.

— Antoine Fuqua

Tune in for a fascinating discussion that provides rare insight into the mindset of visionary director Antoine Fuqua. From his rough upbringing to directing actors like Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Will Smith, and Jake Gyllenhaal, he explains how his background shaped his directorial style and gift for portraying the human condition. Fuqua offers an inside look at his approach, close actor collaborations, constant self-criticism, and desire to evolve as a storyteller. Whether reminiscing on impactful memories or previewing future projects, Fuqua speaks with emotion and a deep love for filmmaking.

Don’t Kill the Messenger, hosted by movie and entertainment research expert Kevin Goetz, brings his book Audienceology to life. This bi-monthly podcast takes a peek behind the filmmaking curtain as Kevin talks with famous filmmakers, studio executives, stars, and other creatives about movies, filmmaking, audience test screenings, and much more.

For more information about Kevin Goetz:

Audienceology Book:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Website: