Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Denzel Washington
Birthdate: December 28, 1954
Famous Years: 1984-Present
Currently Known For: The Equalizer 2
|Networth: $220 Million||Famous For: Training Day, Malcolm X, Glory|
December 28, 1954
The Equalizer 2
Training Day, Malcolm X, Glory
If you’re talking about one of the more well-rounded and respected actors of the past 30 years, you have to mention Denzel Washington. The veteran actor has played a wide range of roles throughout his career, which has led to several Oscar nominations that include a pair of wins. From comedies to historical pieces and from action to drama, Washington has excelled in just about every category that you could fathom. And even in his 60s, the star of both stage and screen is not close to finished.
Washington was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York, which is just outside of the Bronx. His father had been a city government worker and minister while growing up, and his mother owned a beauty salon. When he got to his teenage years, Washington’s parents split up and the child that had been going down a wayward path at the time had then gone to military school. That, according to Washington, would be the best choice possible.
“I was mischievous,” Washington said of his childhood, running with the wrong crowd. “My three closest friends did quite a bit of time (in jail)...decades.” He added that “I was what they call ‘throwing rocks at the penitentiary,’ but I never hit it. I never got caught...But I also knew right from wrong, so I never wanted to go too far.”
Toward the end of his high school years, Washington moved down to Florida, and then ended up at Fordham University in the 1970s back in New York City where he played basketball. Washington ended up getting degrees in both drama and journalism, eventually deciding to give acting more consideration as a career. He’d take advanced classes in the subject, and while still a college student got his first minor role in the TV movie, “The Wilma Rudolph Story”. Two years later, he’d appear in the TV film “Flesh & Blood” before the breaks really started coming.
“I had a lot of success from the start,” Washington said. “I never really was tested for long periods of time. I got my first professional job while I was a senior in college. I signed with the William Morris Agency before I graduated.”
In 1981, he had his first role on the big screen with “Carbon Copy”, which helped him to land a role on the TV series “St. Elsewhere” starting in 1982. He’d remain on the series playing Dr. Philip Chandler for six years and nearly 140 episodes. During that time, he’d do a couple more TV films while also appearing in major motion pictures such as “Power” and “Cry Freedom”, which earned him his first Oscar nomination coming in the category of Best Supporting Actor.
Though he didn’t win for “Cry Freedom”, Washington would star in the 1989 film “Glory” with Matthew Broderick, earning him a second nomination. This time around, Washington would win in the category of Best Supporting Actor, helping to set up what would be a breakout into mega stardom for the 1990s. That decade, he’d get started by appearing in films such as “Malcolm X” (another Oscar nomination), “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Devil in a Blue Dress”.
Toward the end of the decade, he’d have more hits with films like “The Hurricane” and “He Got Game”. It wasn’t too much longer after that that he’d earn his second Oscar, this time coming for his role as Detective Alonzo Harris in “Training Day”. Throw in early 2000s films such as “Remember the Titans” and “John Q.”, and Washington had certainly established himself as one of the most famous actors of the era.
In recent years, Washington has once again become a favorite of the Academy. In 2013, he was nominated for Best Actor when he portrayed an William “Whip” Whitaker in “Flight”. He wouldn’t win the award, but Washington has found himself nominated for a pair of Oscars since then, with a nomination for “Fences” in 2017, and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” in 2018. It’s been a good run for the 63 year old that’s shown that he’s just as good as ever. In his most recent role, he’d get away from the Oscar darlings and back into action with “The Equalizer 2”, and took the stage for “The Iceman Cometh” on Broadway.
There’s no telling just how long Washington will go with his acting career, but the stage remains his first love. He says that he plans on retiring on stage instead of in the movies, saying the reason is because he started there, so he’ll finish there. “It’s where I learned how to act,” he said. “You don’t learn it on film, you learn it on stage, when it’s live every night. Things happen. People talk back to you. You drop stuff. It’s professionally my first love and it’ll be my last.”
Washington also helps young actors and has been working in script production, and that includes helping his son John David with his acting career. When talking about the next generation of actors, Washington says “Each one, teach one. That’s what it’s all about. Reaching back and sharing what you know. Somebody did it for me. So, it shouldn't stop here.”