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Denzel Washington Actor

Denzel Washington

One of Hollywood's hottest leading men, Denzel Washington is an actor whose poise and sexy intelligence permeate whatever film he is in, be it socially conscious drama, comedy, or suspense thriller. The son of a Pentecostal minister and a hairdresser, Washington was born in Mount Vernon, New York on December 28, 1954. His parents' professions shaped Washington's early ambition to go into show business: from his minister father he learned the power of performance, while hours spent in his mother's salon listening to stories gave him a love of storytelling. Unfortunately, when Washington was fourteen, his parents' marriage took a turn for the worse, and he and his older sister were sent away to boarding school so that they would not be exposed to their parents' eventual divorce. Washington went on to college, attaining a B.A. in Journalism from Fordham University in 1977. He still found time to pursue his interest in acting, and after graduation he went to San Francisco, where he won a scholarship to the American Conservatory Theatre. Washington stayed with the ACT for a year, and, after his time there, he began acting in various television movies and made his film debut in the 1981 Carbon Copy. Although he had a starring role as the illegitimate son of a rich white man, Washington didn't find real recognition until he joined the cast of the long-running TV series St. Elsewhere in 1982. He won critical raves and audience adoration for his portrayal of Dr. Phillip Chandler, and he began to attract Hollywood notice. In 1987, he starred as anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom, and his powerful performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

Two years later, Washington won that award for his turn as an embittered yet courageous runaway slave in the Civil War drama Glory. The honor effectively put him on the Hollywood A-List, a place Washington managed to retain even as he appeared in films of wildly varying quality over the subsequent years. Some of his more notable work came from his collaboration with director Spike Lee; over the course of the 1990s, Washington starred in three of his films, playing a jazz trumpeter in Mo' Better Blues (1990), the title role in Lee's epic 1992 biopic Malcolm X (for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination), and the convict father of a high school basketball star in He Got Game (1998).

Washington also turned in powerful performances in a number of other films, such as Mississippi Masala (1991), in which he played a man in love with an Indian woman; Philadelphia (1993), in which he portrayed a homophobic lawyer who takes on the cause of an AIDS-stricken man (Tom Hanks); and Devil in a Blue Dress (1994), which cast him as a 1940s private detective. Washington also proved himself believable as an action star, with the success of such thrillers as The Pelican Brief (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), and The Siege (1998) attesting to his capabilities. In 1999, Washington starred in another thriller, The Bone Collector, playing a paralyzed forensics expert who joins forces with a young policewoman (Angelina Jolie) to track down a serial killer. That same year, he starred in the title role of Norman Jewison's The Hurricane. Based on the true story of a boxer wrongly accused of murdering three people in 1966, the film featured stellar work by Washington as the wronged man, further demonstrating his remarkable capacity for telling a good story. His performance earned him a number of honors, including a Best Actor Golden Globe and a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

After giving another strong performance as a high school football coach in Boaz Yakin's Remember the Titans, Washington went against type to play a corrupt policeman in Training Day, Antoine Fuqua's gritty cop drama. Washington surprised both audiences and critics with his change of direction, although more than a few noted this change of direction made him a more compelling screen presence than ever in addition to earning him an Oscar for Best Actor. Despite a strong performance from Washington as a father desperate to get his son the medical attention he needs, 2002's John Q. was met with only mediocre acclaim. Before long, however, Washington was being praised for both his directorial and acting work in Antwoine Fisher (2002), in which he played a concerned naval psychiatrist, and even more so for director Carl Franklin's 2003 crime thriller Out of Time. Somewhat reminiscent of his role in 1991's crime drama Ricochet, Out of Time finds Denzel playing an upstanding police officer who is framed for the murder of a prominent citizen. In 2004, Washington will team up with Johnathan Demme for the first time since 1993's Philadelphia for the hotly acclaimed remake of 1962's The Manchurian Candidate. {$Washington will star as soldier Bennett Marco, who, along with his platoon, is kidnapped during the first Gulf War. In April 2004, Washington will work alongside Christopher Walken in director Tony Scott's upcoming thriller Man On Fire.

Denzel Washington: Man On Fire

Hollywood star and some time director Denzel Washington is a two-time Oscar winner for his work in Glory and Training Day. In between those films, the 49-year-old has played a variety of roles that puts many of his peers to shame. A Soldier's Story, Cry Freedom, Much Ado About Nothing, Malcolm X, Devil In A Blue Dress, Fallen, and The Hurricane all demonstrate the versatility of a character actor who still looks every bit the leading man. After Man On Fire, he'll also be seen later this year in a remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

In Man On Fire you form a special bond with ten-year-old Dakota Fanning. Was that easily achieved?

Actually the tough part for me was keeping my distance early on in the scenes where we're not supposed to be so friendly. I think she said that I didn't seem to be talking to her much, and Tony [Scott, the director] said "Denzel - he's very concentrated", and she was like "Yeah, I know, he's acting! I won't talk to him either, don't worry about it." I'm convinced she's really 40-years-old.

Do you think she was in awe of you?

No, quite the opposite. The first scene we did together she looked me dead in the face and just performed. They said "Cut!" and I was like, "oh shoot, I'm in trouble - this chick can act!" She's just got this God-given ability, she's a great actress. Her parents have done a wonderful job with her. She's very humble, and as normal as a ten-year-old movie star can be. I pray that she gets the chance to just hang out with kids and be a kid.

These two films (Man On Fire and The Manchurian Candidate) demonstrate the recent trend in your career for interesting, morally complex roles. Is there a reason for this?

I think a part of it is Training Day. I would imagine Tony Scott got the idea of me doing Man On Fire because of that. Even then he was like, "Well, you know you gotta be heavy, you gotta be dark." I said "What, you want me to cut your throat, to show you I can do the part?"

Did you get any useful advice during your research into the character you play, Creasy?

I didn't do a lot of research about bodyguard work because Creasy had never been a bodyguard before this. But since he had a background in the army and the Marines and Delta, I looked into that. There you're taught about protecting your assets, and in this case the child was the asset. But I didn't want to be an expert bodyguard because the character wasn't.

After these heavy roles is it time now for a comedy?

I think that would be good. Before Training Day I guess they didn't think I could play a heavy, so I guess it's coming. I actually have a script in my bag that I've been asked to do with Halle Berry that's sort of a romance. So we'll see, I think that's sort of how Hollywood works - they all head in one direction; every book of the Bible is being optioned right now.

You have another directorial project lined up, and a biopic of Sammy Davis Jr, don't you?

I'm at a place now in my life now where I'm just as interested in what goes on behind the camera. So there are two or three projects that I'm developing now, and Sammy Davis Jr's story is one of them. It's a book I read last Christmas, I thought it was great and I convinced Brian Grazer at Universal to option it. Now we're trying to see if we can fashion a decent screenplay out of it.

Will you be playing the lead role yourself?

Now THAT'S comedy: 'The Taller Sammy!', 'Sammy Grows Up!'. No I don't think so, please spread that around: I am NOT going to play Sammy Davis Jr.

Denzel Washington: Out Of Time

Fresh from directing the award-winning (though utterly dire) Antwone Fisher, Denzel Washington gives an excellent performance as a love-struck, unstuck cop in Carl Franklin's smart noir thriller Out Of Time. The two-time Oscar-winning star of Glory and Training Day talks age, power and love scenes...

You went from directing Antwone Fisher to being "just an actor" again - how was that?

This was a tough film to do coming off of directing Antwone Fisher because Carl had such a style that he wanted to do. This wasn't an actor's film per se. It was chopped up bits and pieces. It wasn't a performance-driven film.

What appealed to you about it?

It's an interesting group of flawed people who get together and make a mess! It's the sort of film where you're shouting at the screen going: "Denzel, no! Don't do that! Oh, he got away with another one!"

You play a corrupt cop in Training Day and a flawed cop in this film - why the same kind of character so soon?

Maybe it's the power and the misuse of power, maybe they have that in common. But the fact that he was a policeman was the least important thing to me. He's a guy who swims and goes fishing, you know. He's Chief of Police and he's got three guys and one of them is kind of a crossing guard, so it's kind of sad.

You have some love scenes - do you ever get used to doing those?

Love scenes in movies are not what you think. There's a hundred people in the room and 20 takes later, you know... You try to make it intimate like it's just the two of you but really it's very technical. There's one scene we have where Sanaa Lathan and I move through the bathroom and through a door and all of that. I'm carrying her and now it's take 19... You know?

Do you feel like an elder statesman on set these days, working with younger actors?

You know, these younger actors are there because they're good and if they weren't good, they wouldn't be there. I'm not keen on that role model thing. I mean, I don't mind because I want to see younger actors do well. But I don't know if I'm their role model, per se. But you know, if that's what they think, that's cool.

Denzel Washington: Antwone Fisher

Denzel Washington has built a reputation as one of the best actors working in Hollywood today, cemented by an Oscar win last year for his role as a morally ambiguous cop in "Training Day". Now Denzel is stepping behind the camera to tell the true story of a troubled navy recruit, in "Antwone Fisher".

Why did you choose this particular project for your directorial debut?

Oh, just meeting [the real-life] Antwone Fisher. I was just touched by him as a human being and by his story, and I wanted to be a part of it. And it's a performance movie and we worked on developing it for a long time, several years, so it just felt like the right thing to do.

Tell us about Derek Luke (who plays Antwone) and Joy Bryant (Cheryl), both newcomers...

They were new but very talented. They were very open to suggestion and direction, and I just tried to share my 25 years of experience with them. I think I know a thing or two about acting and I just wanted to share that with them. They're both very talented so it was easy. I really just wanted to make sure that they felt comfortable, that they could feel like it's not an exact science.

What's the hardest thing you found about being a director?

Not getting any sleep!

So how do you feel about the movie now?

I think it's a pretty good film. It's a simple film and I think it has honesty and a lot of heart.

Denzel Washington: John Q

This movie attacks the US Health Service. Do you personally fight for those issues?

I don't get bogged down in the issues. There was a lot more preaching in the script that I am glad was cut. But I didn't do the film because of the issues, because I haven't been in that situation. It's popcorn and Coca-Cola - it's a movie.

You seem like you're aware of the movie's contrivances?

Everything is set in place for this movie to work. I mean, why not just take his son to another hospital? But the bottom line is it's a movie, it's entertainment.

You're a rich film star. Was it difficult to empathise with John Q?

I've got a memory. I remember when I didn't have insurance, it wasn't THAT long ago.

You won an Oscar for playing a bad guy. Is that something you are going to do again?

I haven't been offered anything. Let's just say I am not looking to do any rogue cops right now. I've done enough cops.

And now you're directing a movie, "The Antwone Fisher Story". How are you finding that?

We're re-testing the film tomorrow. I loved the experience. It was nerve-wracking, a lot of sleepless nights, but having talked to directors, that seems to be a common thing.

Can you see yourself doing it again?

I'm not sure I care for the acting and directing at the same time [which he's doing in this movie], but I definitely will continue to direct films - given the opportunity.

Complete Cast Announced for Julius Caesar, Starring Denzel Washington

Colm Feore, Jessica Hecht, Tamara Tunie, Eamonn Walker and Jack Willis will join Denzel Washington and William Sadler in the Broadway revival of Julius Caesar.

Feore, who will play Brutus' co-conspirator Cassius, last appeared on the New York stage in another Shakespeare play, Hamlet, at the Public Theater. Hecht, set for the role of Brutus' wife Portia, previously appeared on Broadway in The Last Night of Ballyhoo and After the Fall. Tunie, who will play Caesar's wife Calphurnia, currently appears on the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Walker, who will play Marc Antony, is best known for playing Kareem Said on the HBO series Oz. Willis, set to portray Casca, has appeared on the Great White Way in Furnished Rooms, The Old Neighborhood, Art and The Crucible.
The cast of Julius Caesar will also include Stephen Lee Anderson, Jacqueline Antaramian, Kelly AuCoin, Ed Onipede

Blunt, David Cromwell, Keith Davis, Peter Jay Fernandez, Seth Fisher, Steven M. Jones, Ty Jones, Aaron Krohn, Quentin Maré, Christopher McHale, Mark Mineart, Dan Moran, Jason Manuel Olazábal, Howard W. Overshown, Patrick Page, Kurt Rhoads, John Douglas Thompson, Richard Topol and Henry Woronicz.

Julius Caesar, directed by Daniel Sullivan, is scheduled to begin performances on March 8 in preparation for an April 3 opening. The show will have a limited engagement at the Belasco Theatre through June 12.

Denzel Washington in 'Out Of Time'

After years of thinking of Denzel Washington as merely a good-looking, fairly charismatic actor with a reasonably sturdy back catalogue of films behind him, I – like many people – was blown away by his brilliant portrayal of the evil, corrupt Detective Alonzo Harris in 2001’s Training Day.

All of a sudden Washington, playing the uncharacteristic badass with relish, was indelibly stamped upon my movie memory. The character of Alonzo Harris was both the coolest and meanest cat to come out of the, until-then, tired-looking buddy/cop-movie genre in a long time.

Sadly Washington’s two features following Training Day (the heart-string pulling 2002 duo of John Q and Antwone Fisher) did little to underscore both his Oscar win and his recently beefed-up reputation as an actor of limitless range.

So I was mighty interested to see his name attached to Out Of Time – a new film from director Carl Franklin (High Crimes, Devil In A Blue Dress) that, judging by the press surrounding it, purported to be a good old thriller in the best traditions of the genre.

Washington plays Matt Whitlock, the Chief Of Police in the small, steamy town of Banyan Key, Florida. He’s juggling this position of responsibility in a close-knit community with a disintegrating marriage (to another cop on his team) and an affair with a local woman, whose abusive husband rightly suspects her as the cheatin’ kind.

When the woman he’s having the affair with and her husband both wind up dead in suspicious circumstances, all fingers point toward Whitlock as the likely protagonist. Through a series of well-staged circumstances, he is openly hostile toward her husband, has recently become the sole beneficiary in her will, and is eyeballed at the scene of the crime on the night the murder takes place.

He’s innocent of course, but now he has to try and solve the murder before his own Police staff come to the most obvious conclusion themselves.

Sadly, despite a few heart-pounding sequences where Whitlock races against time to cover up the trail of evidence leading directly to him, Out Of Time is an overly formulaic ride.

The first third (basically until the mistress – actress Sanaa Lathan – winds up dead) plays out like a tepid, soapy made-for-TV drama. It’s big-budget Picket Fences. Dean Cain, as Chris the jealous husband, grimaces, threatens and cajoles like a cartoon character. It’s an odd casting decision from the outset, as straight-of-tooth, sensible-of-haircut Cain is hardly choice number one for dishing out some heavy-handed spousal abuse. Even a “sinister” goatee can’t add any sense of the Mr Hyde to Cain’s placid Dr Jekyl exterior.

Sexy Eva Mendez (2 Fast 2 Furious, Once Upon A Time In Mexico) isn’t believable as Whitlock’s estranged wife. Her acting makes the grade, but she’s let down by clunky characterisation. She’s a damn sight more attractive than his mistress for a start (who would leave Eva Mendez for another woman, for Christ’s sake?), not to mention 20 years Washington’s junior... now if Banyan Keys really were a small town in Florida, that’d be a decent scandal in itself.

It’s good to see Washington going back to a role that doesn’t demand saintly goodness of his character throughout the entire movie – Matt Whitlock is a flawed character in many ways. But he’s also no Alonzo Harris.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t expect Washington to only take up roles which demand he eat small children, and pillage cities just because he won some serious silverware for acting the tough guy. But I do think Training Day proved Washington can successfully utilise character traits and personalities we’re not used to seeing him use on screen.

While providing a few edge-of-the-seat set-pieces, Out Of Time isn’t the sort of vehicle that’s going to provide him with more opportunities to brush up on his acceptance speech quips and one-liners.

Denzel to bring Davis Jr's life to silver screen

Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington is all set to star in a movie based on the life of legendary crooner and entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.

According to femalefirst, Washington has also written the foreword to the paperback version of author Wil Haygood's 'In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr'.

The 'Training Day' star said that he optioned the film rights to the book, which will be published in April 2005 to mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of Davis, and plans to bring it to the screen with 'A Beautiful Mind producer Brian Glazer.

Washington also said that the book has changed his life and "It will make a great, inspiring movie."


Denzel Washington: Farmer movie

Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey to direct, produce film about civil-rights pioneer James Farmer's youth and his role in college-debate stunner.

The compelling story of the late civil-rights leader James Farmer, a longtime Spotsylvania County resident, has finally caught the attention of Hollywood.

A young Farmer will be featured in an upcoming film to be directed by Denzel Washington. A spokeswoman for Miramax in New York confirmed this week that "The Great Debaters" is being developed as a studio project; a production company owned by Oprah Winfrey also will be involved.

No release date has been set, but it could be in theaters as early as 2006.

Farmer, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998 for his leadership during the civil-rights movement, taught history at Mary Washington College for 14 years prior to his death in 1999.

He founded the Congress of Racial Equality in Chicago in 1942 and was one of the "Big Four" leaders of the civil-rights movement, along with Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young.

The film is to be a "David and Goliath" story about tiny black Wiley College beating Harvard in 1935, Washington told the Marshall (Texas) News Messenger during a visit to the campus there in September.

The Academy Award-winning actor said it will be a coming-of-age story about Farmer, who in the film falls in love with a female student on the debate team.

"She's like 19. He was only 15," said Washington, who does not plan to act in the film. Farmer, who was born in Marshall and raised in Austin, Texas, skipped years of school and started college at age 14.

The film will focus on Wiley professor and debate coach Melvin B. Tolson, and his team, including Farmer, which defeated Harvard in the 1930s.

"The script came across my desk maybe a year ago," Washington told the Marshall paper. "I thought it would be just a really wonderful story to tell. It's about the spoken word--something you don't see much in film--and about education and about debating."

Washington said this part of the story of blacks in America needs to be told--that there is a huge gap between the end of the Civil War and the climax of the civil-rights struggle in 1964.

He also said the spoken word is an important part of current hip-hop culture, and the debating film shows the roots of that tradition.

"Our oral history is rich and deep, and debating is a big part of it, a part I didn't know about. It's something I want to share on the film with others," he told the Marshall paper.

Detine Bowers, a former Stafford County resident now an Austin writer, told The Free Lance-Star she is working on a narrative documentary about Farmer that she said will be shown in theaters with "The Great Debaters."

In his later years, when he was blind and in a wheelchair, Farmer often expressed concern that history would forget him.

He staged the first sit-in of the civil rights movement while King was still a schoolboy. He organized the Freedom Rides that forced the desegregation of interstate travel. And it was the slayings of his CORE workers in Philadelphia, Miss., that inspired the film "Mississippi Burning."

Many times during the movement, Farmer came close to being lynched himself. He once had to be smuggled out of a Mississippi town in the back of a hearse.

"Few Americans have faced a more fearsome task or left a greater legacy of positive change," Clinton said of Farmer during a 1999 memorial service in Washington.

 

 

 

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