SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The new movie "Blue Caprice" is about a boy who's left by his mother, and aches for a father. He meets a man who longs for a son. They find each other, but nothing happy results. They go on the run together; rob, steal and sleep in a car that they buy with stolen cash; and the man tells the boy...
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BLUE CAPRICE")
ISAIAH WASHINGTON: (As John) Hey, look, I helped you. I brought you here. I gave you all this. It is not enough just to say the words. You need to prove it. Do you love me? Then I need you to do something for me.
SIMON: "Blue Caprice" is based on the 2002 Beltway Sniper shootings, when John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo killed ten people. Tequan Richmond plays the young man, Lee. Isaiah Washington plays his father figure, John. Mr. Washington is perhaps best known as one of the surgeons on "Grey's Anatomy." We spoke with him last week before this week's shootings at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yards.
Mr. Washington is also the executive producer of "Blue Caprice."
WASHINGTON: By setting it up with these characters that become snipers, but starting off with who they were and when they were operating as just merely human beings, both of which have been abandoned or victimized in some way - you don't see that but you feel it - we wanted to explore various things; this desensitized feeling towards the culture of violence in America, and particularly bad fathering and bad leadership and what that gets us and where that takes us.
SIMON: Much of the film is set in the woods and an industrial town in Washington state where they're firing guns on a range or in a basement, but not at anybody.
WASHINGTON: Exactly. You don't see my character actually hurt anyone, and I was very keen on that idea, is that this was going to be more of a psychological thriller as opposed to glorifying or sensationalizing in any way violence, and particularly coming on as a producer I wanted to make very sure that we would handle the subject matter - although it's based on actual events - with kid gloves, as best we could.
And I knew that if we blow this, then the film is doomed and I'm personally doomed, but if we got it right and able to touch a human chord, then we can spawn some really profound dialogue.
SIMON: What do you have to, as an actor, tap into to show a man who is on the one hand capable of enormous violence as we know, and yet of course is human?
WASHINGTON: Obviously, although this man committed the crimes, in his mind he was justified because he had been betrayed by the U.S. government and he was justified - like, any criminal - will always say I didn't commit a crime. I was only at war or I was only fighting the system. We see this all the time.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BLUE CAPRICE")
WASHINGTON: (As John) You know, some evil people in this world. Like here. The lady who lives here is a real piece of (bleep), testified against me in court. That's what they do. They take your kids away, say that I kidnapped them. How can I kidnap my own kids? They're my kids. Then she just gets to live here like nothing ever happened. (Bleep) vampire. I hope she dies.
It really drives home that although you may have empathy for the characters, there's no room for sympathy and that's not what we're asking for, 'cause the reality is this man was doing some things that is just are not good.
SIMON: I have to ask, Mr. Washington - you left "Grey's Anatomy" in a kind of sensational bust-up after you were accused of, and apologized for, using an anti-gay epithet on set. How do you feel about that today?
WASHINGTON: It was painful. It was unfortunate, and I did apologize, and the story was never right. Six years later, I'm still asked that question whereas six years later I've been virtually unheard, unseen and maybe to some, not that homophobic train wreck that they were trying to make me out to be. And I find it very interesting that here I am playing a monster, and having given the platform yet again to talk about humanity and larger things.
I'm proud of my three-year tenure on that show. Dr. Burke still lives on that show whether I'm on there or not. So the controversy, I feel, was necessary, although painful and confused. To this day, bigots try to embrace me and I shy away from them; tell them, you got the wrong guy. And then I walk in certain rooms, people look at me like I'm the pariah - still today - and like, well, why is he here? Why is he alive? Why is he still walking?
I have shot no one; I have hurt no one. I haven't spent one day in jail, in the last six years. I haven't been in any rehab or busted for drugs. And there are many other people in Hollywood who have, and they still get the pass. So I'm fine with me. My wife, my three kids - when I walk in the door, my child hugs me. And we have a great life. So that's my answer.
SIMON: Isaiah Washington - he stars in the new film "Blue Caprice." Thanks so much, sir.
WASHINGTON: Thank you.