Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. (born December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York) is an American actor, screenwriter, director, and film producer.
Early in his career he did a lot of theater; Washington was in the original cast of Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Soldier's Play.note Although his first major role was on television, in the classic '80s Ensemble Cast Medical Drama St. Elsewhere, Washington has garnered much critical acclaim for his work in film since the late 1980s, including for his portrayals of real-life figures, such as Steve Biko (Cry Freedom), Malcolm X, Rubin Carter (The Hurricane), Melvin B. Tolson (The Great Debaters), Frank Lucas (American Gangster) and Herman Boone (Remember the Titans). In case you're wondering, he's been approached to play Martin Luther King Jr., but he's declined for fear of the Typecasting that kind of role would create.
Washington has been awarded three Golden Globe awards and two Academy Awards for his work. He is notable as the second African American man (after Sidney Poitier) to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, which he received for his role in the 2001 film Training Day. He starred as John Creasy in Man on Fire, followed by leading roles in the 2006 thriller Déjà Vu (2006), the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, and the 2010 post-apocalyptic action film The Book of Eli. He also played Joe Miller in Philadelphia, which was the second big-budget Hollywood film to present AIDS, homophobia, and gays in a realistic and thoughtful light.
For his 2012 film Safe House, he allowed himself to be water-boarded for real to make the performance more realistic. His next film was Flight, which came out in November 2012, and for which he was nominated for another Oscar. He would later be nominated for Fences and Roman J. Israel, Esq.. He also produced films without starring in them, such as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
He is the father of fellow actor John David Washington.
- Carbon Copy (1981) - Roger Porter
- St. Elsewhere (1982-1988) - Dr. Philip Chandler
- A Soldier's Story (1984) - Pfc. Peterson
- Cry Freedom (1987) - Steve Biko
- Glory (1989) - Pvt. Trip
- Heart Condition (1990) - Napoleon Stone
- Mo' Better Blues (1990) - Bleek Gilliam
- Ricochet (1991) - Nicholas "Nick" Styles
- Mississippi Masala (1991) - Demetrius
- Malcolm X (1992) - Malcolm X
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993) - Don Pedro
- The Pelican Brief (1993) - Gray Grantham
- Philadelphia (1993) - Joe Miller
- Crimson Tide (1995) - Lt. Commander Ron Hunter
- Virtuosity (1995) - Lt. Parker Barnes
- Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) - Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins
- Courage Under Fire (1996) - Lt. Col. Nathan 'Nat' Serling
- Fallen (1998) - John Hobbes
- He Got Game (1998)- Jacob "Jake" Shuttlesworth
- The Siege (1998) - Anthony "Hub" Hubbard
- The Bone Collector (1999) - Lincoln Rhyme
- The Hurricane (1999) - Rubin Carter
- Remember the Titans (2000) - Coach Herman Boone
- Training Day (2001) - Officer Alonzo Harris
- John Q. (2002) - John Quincy Archibald
- Antwone Fisher (2002) - Dr. Jerome Davenport; Denzel also directed the film
- Out of Time (2003) - Chief Matthias "Matt" Whitlock
- Man on Fire (2004) - John Creasy
- The Manchurian Candidate (2004) - Ben Marco
- Inside Man (2006) - Detective Keith Frazier
- Déjà Vu (2006) (2006) - Doug Carlin
- American Gangster (2007) - Frank Lucas
- The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (2009) - Walter Garber
- The Book of Eli (2010) - Eli
- Unstoppable (2010) - Frank Barnes
- Flight (2012) - Flight Captain Whip Whitaker
- Safe House (2012) - Tobin Frost
- 2 Guns (2013) - DEA Special Agent Robert "Bobby" Trench
- The Equalizer (2014) - Robert McCall
- The Magnificent Seven (2016) - Sam Chisolm
- Fences (2016) - Troy
- Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017) - Roman
- The Equalizer 2 (2018) - Robert McCall
- The Little Things (2021) - Joe "Deke" Deacon
- The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) - Macbeth
This actor's work provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: A master of playing these types of villains and always keeping you wondering if the charm is sincere or just a facade..
- Anti-Villain: He plays quite a lot of these, such as his portrayal of Frank Lucas and his role in Safe House.
- Catchphrase: When Denzel says "I guarantee it", you can take that guarantee to the goddamn bank and cash it.
- Character Tic: Many of his characters play with their hands because he broke his right pinky finger while playing American football and reinjured it many times since that it frequently dislocates and can extend out to an extreme angle and he is making sure that the finger is in place while shooting a scene.
- Chronically Killed Actor: Says something that out of his seven Oscar noms, only The Hurricane and Flight have Washington ending the movie alive.
- Creator Backlash: Washington wishes he had never done Heart Condition, claiming that he was talked into making this movie by his agent and once it was slammed by critics and bombed horribly, Washington fired him shortly thereafter.
- Large Ham: Has a quite a way to ham when needed.
- Mr. Fanservice: For a long time(especially in the 1990's/2000s), he's been the poster boy for attractive Black masculinity.
- Production Posse: Often works with directors Spike Lee, Tony Scott, and Antoine Fuqua.
- Real Men Love Jesus: He's the son of a pastor, and considered following in his father's footsteps before going into acting. He's also noted that he reads his Bible daily and prays regularly, to the point that the quote for the trope page is from him. His film roles tend to incorporate this, including The Book of Eli and Flight.
- Scary Black Man: Although Denzel isn't exactly a physically imposing man, he often plays roles like this with his intense energy alone.
- Single Tear: During the infamous whipping scene in Glory, he only sheds one tear, at the end, which is impressive considering the strength and length with which he was whipped. In Flight he also sheds a single tear, when he starts talking about his estranged son in the hospital after the crash.
- Villain Protagonist: Often plays these, from an abusive and unfaithful husband and father in Fences, to a ruthless if affable mobster in American Gangster.