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Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Reference
in the movie

Training Day (2001)

"Training Day" (2001)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Screenplay by David Ayer

Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Harris Yulin, Raymond J. Barry, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray, Eva Mendes

MPAA Rating: R
U.S. Box Office: $76,261,036
Production budget: $45,000,000

Actor Denzel Washington received the Best Actor Academy Award for his starring role in "Training Day." The film follows Officer Jake Hoyt (played by Ethan Hawke) on his first day as a narcotics officer. His assignment to this squad (which would mean a jump in pay grade for him) is provisional. If his trainer (Detective-Sergeant Alonzo Harris, played by Denzel Washington) does not approve of him, he will not be allowed to join the narcotics squad.

Early in the day (and early in the film: 16 minutes, 21 seconds after the beginning), Alonzo (Washington) asks Officer Hoyt (Hawke) if he is a Mormon when the young officer tells him he won't smoke some illegal narcotics, as Washington has asked him to do.

This story takes place in Los Angeles, which has a large Latter-day Saint population. Streetwise and knowledgeable of many things, Alonzo would naturally be familiar Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and their practice of adhering to "the Word of Wisdom." The Word of Wisdom was introduced to Latter-day Saints through a revelation received by Joseph Smith on February 27, 1833. As currently taught and practiced, the Word of Wisdom prohibits drinking alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking coffee and tea, and using illegal drugs (narcotics). As a Los Angeles police officer, Alonzo would know many Latter-day Saints personally (probably as fellow police officers of all ranks), and he would know of their strict refusal to use illegal drugs.

This Mormon reference was in pre-shooting drafts of the "Training Day" screenplay. It was almost certainly written by the screenplay's sole credited screenwriter: David Ayer. It is worth noting that Ayer included a Latter-day Saint police officer character in his next movie ("S.W.A.T.", 2003) and a multi-scene subplot in which he discussed the Word of Wisdom with his co-worker, a S.W.A.T. officer played by Colin Farrell.

Below is the exact dialogue from this portion of this scene, as it appears in the final version of the film:

[While driving, Detective-Sergeant Alonzo Harris is preparing a pipe with illegal narcotics that he and Officer Jake Hoyt confistacted from college students only minutes earlier.]

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): To be truly effective a good narcotics agent must know and love narcotics. In fact, a good narcotics agent should have narcotics in his blood.

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): [Looking at his trainer, Alonzo. Smiles nervously and laughs slightly.] What, are you gonna smoke that?

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): Nope. You are. [Tries to hand the pipe to Officer Hoyt.]

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): [Smiles. Turns his head away. Doesn't believe that his trainer is serious.] Hell if I am!

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): Yes... Yeah... You're not?

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): No.

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): Why? You're a Mormon or something? A Jesus Freak?

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): No. I'm not losing my job.

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): This is your job.

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): I can't do that.

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): Smoke it.

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): No.

Alonzo (Denzel Washington): This ain't a test. Just take a hit.

Officer Hoyt (Ethan Hawke): [Again shakes his head no.] Listen, I became a cop to stop people from using...

[NOTE: The dialogue above is an exact transcript from the film as it actually was released. Where there are discrepancies between our transcript and the optional English subtitles shown onscreen on the DVD, it is the transcript that is correct. Mistakes in the DVD subtitles are usually a result of presenting subtitles based on the shooting script rather than transcribing the audio track.]

The dialogue as heard in the film is slightly different from what appears in the screenplay, probably due to slight improvisation on the part of the actors.

Here is this dialogue from David Ayer's script, a revised draft dated August 18, 1999:


                  To be truly effective, a narcotics

                  detective must know and love

                  narcotics.  A good narcotics

                  detective should have narcotics in

                  his blood. 


                  You going to smoke that? 

        Alonzo smiles devilishly, offers Jake the pipe.


                  You are. 


                  Hell if I am. 


                  What?  You a Mormon?  A Jesus freak? 


                  No.  I'm not losing my job. 


                         (re: the pipe)

                  This is your job. 


                  I can't do it. 


                  This isn't some kind of test.

                  Take a [EXPLETIVE] hit. 


                  I became a cop to keep people from

                  using that poison. 

Webpage created 4 October 2004.