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Actor Denzel Washington attends a news conference to promote the film "The Equalizer" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, September 7, 2014.FRED THORNHILL/Reuters

Denzel Washington says turning down a lead role in the movie Seven was a "mistake" he still regrets.

The Oscar-winning actor says he was offered the role eventually played by Brad Pitt in the film about two detectives hunting a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins to shape his crimes.

Washington said he simply couldn't see himself taking on the role when he read the script.

"I was like, man, it's just too much," he at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday while promoting his new movie The Equalizer.

"Then I saw it and I was like, 'Oh God.' "

Washington said the film's storyline had just appeared too overwhelming for him to be a part of, but the product that ended up on the big screen garnered his admiration.

"Evidently it wasn't for me, it was for Brad at the time," he said. "It was just too much when I read it, it was just different when I saw it."

In The Equalizer, Washington takes on the role of Robert McCall, a former CIA agent who is spurred into using his formidable skills when his sense of justice is reawakened by a young woman in trouble, played by Chloë Grace Moretz.

The Equalizer reunites Washington with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sept. 14.