Denzel Washington



Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr.
 (born December 28, 1954) is an American actor, screenwriter, director and film producer. He first rose to prominence when he joined the cast of the medical drama St. Elsewhere, playing Dr. Philip Chandler for six years. He has received much critical acclaim for his work in film since the 1990s, including for his portrayals of real-life figures, such as Steve BikoMalcolm XRubin CarterMelvin B. TolsonFrank Lucas, and Herman Boone.

Washington has received two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe awards, a Tony Award.[1] He is notable for winning the Best Supporting Actor for Glory in 1989; and the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001 for his role in the film Training Day.

Early life

Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon, near New York City, on December 28, 1954. His mother, Lennis “Lynne”, was a beauty parlor-owner and operator born in Georgia and partly raised in Harlem. His father, Reverend Denzel H. Washington, Sr., a native ofBuckingham County, Virginia, served as an ordained Pentecostal minister, and also worked for the Water Department and a local department store, S. Klein.[3][4][5]

Washington attended grammar school at Pennington-Grimes Elementary School in Mount Vernon until 1968. When he was 14, his parents’ marriage fell apart and his mother sent him to a private preparatory school, Oakland Military Academy, in New Windsor, New York State. “That decision changed my life,” Washington later said, “because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them.”[6] After Oakland, Washington next attended Mainland High School, a public high school in Daytona Beach, Florida, from 1970–71.[3] Washington was interested in attending Texas Tech University: “I grew up in the Boys Club in Mount Vernon, and we were the Red Raiders. So when I was in high school, I wanted to go to Texas Tech in Lubbockjust because they were called the Red Raiders and their uniforms looked like ours.”[7] Washington earned a B.A. in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in 1977.[8] At Fordham he played collegiate basketball as a freshman guard[9] under coach P. J. Carlesimo.[10] After a period of indecision on which major to study and dropping out of school for a semester, Washington worked as a counselor at an overnight summer camp, Camp Sloane YMCA in Lakeville, Connecticut. He participated in a staff talent show for the campers and a colleague suggested he try acting.[11]

Returning to Fordham that fall with a renewed purpose and focus, he enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus to study acting and was given the title roles in both Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones and Shakespeare’s Othello. Upon graduation he was given a scholarship to attend graduate school at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, where he stayed for one year before returning to New York to begin a professional acting career.

Career

Early work

Washington spent the summer of 1976 in St. Mary’s City, Maryland in summer stock theater performing Wings of the Morning, the Maryland State play. Shortly after graduating from Fordham, Washington made his professional acting debut in the 1977 made-for-television movieWilma with his first Hollywood appearance in the 1981 film Carbon Copy. Washington shared a 1982 Distinguished Ensemble PerformanceObie Award for playing Private First Class Melvin Peterson in the Off-Broadway Negro Ensemble Company production A Soldier’s Play which premiered November 20, 1981.[13]

A major career break came when he starred as Dr. Phillip Chandler in the television hospital drama St. Elsewhere which ran from 1982 to 1988 on NBC. He was one of only a few African American actors to appear on the series for its entire six-year run. Washington also appeared in several television, film and stage roles such as the movies A Soldier’s Story (1984), Hard Lessons (1986) and Power (1986). In 1987 Washington starred as South African anti-apartheid political activist Steven Biko in Richard Attenborough‘s Cry Freedom for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1989 Washington won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing a defiant self-possessed ex-slave soldier in the film Glory. Also that year he gave a powerful performance in The Mighty Quinn, and as the conflicted and disillusioned Reuben James, a British soldier who, despite a distinguished military career, returns to a civilian life where racism and inner city life leads to vigilantism and violence in For Queen and Country.

1990s

1990, Washington starred as Bleek Gilliam in the Spike Lee movie Mo’ Better Blues. In 1992, he starred as Demetrius Williams in the romantic drama Mississippi Masala. Washington was reunited with Lee to play one of his most critically acclaimed roles as the title character of 1992‘s Malcolm X. His performance as the black nationalist leader earned him another nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The next year he played the homophobic lawyer of a homosexual man with AIDS in the 1993 movie Philadelphia. During the early and mid 1990s, Washington starred in several successful thrillers, including The Pelican Brief and Crimson Tide, as well as in comedy Much Ado About Nothing and alongside Whitney Houston in the romantic drama The Preacher’s Wife.[citation needed]

In 1998, Washington starred in Spike Lee’s movie, He Got Game. Washington played a father serving a six year prison term who is propositioned by the warden to a temporary parole on the terms that he must convince his top-ranked high-school basketball player son (Ray Allen), into signing with the governor’s alma mater, Big State. The film also marked the third time that Spike Lee and Washington worked on a film together.[14]

In 1999, Washington starred in The Hurricane a movie about boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter whose conviction for triple murder was overturned after he had spent almost 20 years in prison. A former reporter who was angry at seeing the film portray Carter as innocent despite the overturned conviction began a campaign to pressure Academy Award voters not to award the film Oscars.[15] Washington did receive a Golden Globe Award in 2000 and a Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for the role.

He also presented the Arthur Ashe ESPY Award to Loretta Claiborne for her courage and appeared as himself in the end of The Loretta Claiborne Story movie.

2000s

In 2000, Washington appeared in the Disney film Remember the Titans which grossed over $100 million at the United States box office.[16]

When Washington won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Movie in 2000, as he noted: “No African-American has won best actor in the Golden Globes since Sidney Poitier, until I did”.[17] That made him the first Black actor to win the award in 36 years.[18]

He won an Academy Award for Best Actor in his next film, the 2001 cop thriller Training Day as Detective Alonzo Harris, a rogue LAPD cop with questionable law-enforcement tactics. Washington was the second African-American performer to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, the first being Sidney Poitier who happened to receive an Honorary Academy Awardthe same night that Washington won. Washington holds the record (five so far) for most Oscar nominations by an actor of African descent, along with Morgan Freeman since 2009.

After appearing in 2002’s box office success, the health care-themed John Q., Washington directed his first film, a well-reviewed drama called Antwone Fisher, in which he also co-starred.

Between 2003 and 2004, Washington appeared in a series of thrillers that performed generally well at the box office, including Out of TimeMan on Fire, and The Manchurian Candidate.[19] In 2006, he starred in Inside Man, a Spike Lee-directed bank heist thriller co-starring Jodie Foster and Clive Owen, and Déjà Vu released in November 2006.

In 2007, he co-starred with Russell Crowe in American Gangster. Washington directed and starred in the drama The Great Debaters with Forest Whitaker. Washington next appeared in the 2009 film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, a remake of the ’70s thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, directed by Tony Scott as New York City subway security chief Walter Garber opposite John Travolta.

Return to theater

Washington was last seen onstage in the summer of 1990 in the title role of the Public Theater‘s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III and in 2005 after a 15-year hiatus he appeared onstage again in another Shakespeare play as Marcus Brutus in Julius Caesar on Broadway. The production’s limited run was a consistent sell-out averaging over 100% attendance capacity nightly despite receiving mixed reviews.

2010s

In February 2009, Washington began filming The Book of Eli a post-Apocalyptic drama set in the near future which was released in January 2010. Also the same year, he starred as a veteran railroad engineer in the action film Unstoppable, about an unmanned, half-mile-long runaway freight train carrying a dangerous cargo. The film was directed by Tony Scott, and was the fifth collaboration between the two, after previous films Crimson Tide (1995), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006) and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009).

On June 13, 2010, Washington won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his role in the play Fences.[21][22]

He will be in two films in 2012: Safe House and a film adaptation of The Matarese Circle.

Personal life

On June 25, 1983, Washington married Pauletta Pearson, whom he met on the set of his first screen work, the TV-movie Wilma. The couple have four children: John David (b. July 28, 1984), who signed a football contract with the St. Louis Rams in May 2006 and is currently playing with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League (John David also played college football at Morehouse);[23] Katia (b. November 1987), who is attending Yale University; and twins Olivia and Malcolm (Malcom attends the University of Pennsylvania). In 1995, the couple renewed their wedding vows in South Africa with Archbishop Desmond Tutu officiating.[24]

Washington is a devout Christian,[25] and has considered becoming a preacher. “A part of me still says, ‘Maybe, Denzel, you’re supposed to preach. Maybe you’re still compromising.’ I’ve had an opportunity to play great men and, through their words, to preach. I take what talent I’ve been given seriously, and I want to use it for good.”[26] In 1995 he donated 2.5 million dollars to help build the new West Angeles Church of God in Christ facility in Los Angeles.[27]

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia named Washington as one of three people (the others being directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore) with whom they were willing to negotiate for the release of three defense contractors that the group had held captive from 2003 to 2008.[28]

On May 18, 1991, Washington was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma materFordham University, for having “impressively succeeded in exploring the edge of his multifaceted talent”.[29] He also was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities from Morehouse College on May 20, 2007.[30]

In 2008, Washington visited Israel with a delegation of African American artists in honor of the Jewish State’s 60th birthday.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1974 Death Wish alley mugger (uncredited)
1977 Wilma Robert Eldridge (TV movie)
1981 Carbon Copy Roger Porter
1984 License to Kill Martin Sawyer (TV movie)
A Soldier’s Story Pfc. Melvin Peterson
1986 The George McKenna Story George McKenna (U.S. title – Hard Lessons, TV movie)
Power Arnold Billings NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1987 Cry Freedom Steve Biko Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1989 The Mighty Quinn Xavier Quinn
For Queen and Country Reuben James Festival du Film Policier de Cognac Award for Best Actor
Glory Pvt. Trip Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
1990 Heart Condition Napoleon Stone
Mo’ Better Blues Bleek Gilliam
1991 Ricochet Nicholas Styles
1992 Mississippi Masala Demetrius Williams NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Malcolm X Malcolm X Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
MTV Movie Award for Best Performance – Male
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Silver Bear for Best Actor
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Don Pedro of Aragon
The Pelican Brief Gray Grantham Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male
Philadelphia Joe Miller Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo shared with Tom Hanks
1995 Crimson Tide Lt. Commander Ron Hunter NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Performance – Male
Virtuosity Lt. Parker Barnes
Devil in a Blue Dress Easy Rawlins
1996 Courage Under Fire Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Serling NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best Actor
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
The Preacher’s Wife Dudley
1998 Fallen Detective John Hobbes
He Got Game Jake Shuttlesworth Nominated—Acapulco Black Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
The Siege Special Agent Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard FBI
1999 The Bone Collector Lincoln Rhyme
The Hurricane Rubin “Hurricane” Carter Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Black Reel Award for Best Actor
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Silver Bear for Best Actor
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
2000 Remember the Titans Coach Herman Boone BET Award for Best Actor
Black Reel Award for Best Actor
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
The Loretta Claiborne Story Himself
2001 Training Day Detective Alonzo Harris Academy Award for Best Actor
American Film Institute Award for Actor of the Year – Male – Movies
Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
2002 John Q John Quincy Archibald Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Antwone Fisher Dr. Jerome Davenport also as director
Black Reel Award for Best Director
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Producers Guild of America Stanley Kramer Award
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Director
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Director
2003 Out of Time Police Chief Matthias Lee Whitlock Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
2004 Man on Fire John Creasy Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
The Manchurian Candidate Major Ben Marco
2006 Inside Man Detective Keith Frazier Nominated—Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Déjà Vu Special Agent Doug Carlin
2007 American Gangster Frank Lucas Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Performance – Male
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Great Debaters Melvin B. Tolson also as director
Christopher Award for Best Feature Film
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Director
2009 The Taking of Pelham 123 Walter Garber
2010 The Book of Eli Eli Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
Unstoppable Frank Barnes
2012 Safe House Tobin Frost Filming
The Matarese Circle Brandon Scofield Pre-production