Denzel Washington is an icon of American cinema. Since his debut as an actor in 1977, he has appeared in over 50 films, where he has impressed audiences with powerful performances. But do you know everything about him?
At 66, Denzel Washington is one of the world’s most popular actors. Credit: Sipa
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Today, through this article, we share with you facts and anecdotes about the life and the course of the actor. This is the perfect opportunity to (re) discover that despite critical acclaim and numerous awards, Denzel Washington is much more than an actor. Although he has been a well-known public figure for decades, like all of us, his existence is full of stories that not everyone knows, whether they happened during his childhood or more recently. To celebrate one of the greatest actors in American history, we invite you to review the landmarks, missteps and successes of Denzel Washington.
Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Denzel Washington:
1. Denzel Washington wanted to be a doctor
Here, Denzel Washington plays doctor Philip Chandler. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. was born December 28, 1954 and is named after his father, Denzel Hayes Washington Sr. However, Senior’s first name comes from the last name of the doctor who gave birth to him in 1909 in the county. from Buckingham, Virginia: Dr. Denzel. But rather than following in the footsteps of his father, who was a pastor, young Washington sought his vocation in medicine. “I went to college to be doctor. I just took an acting class because they said you could get an easy and good grade in this area and I just liked getting good grades easily ” he told PopEater in 2010. This course changed his life. Washington changed direction and obtained a bachelor’s degree in theater. Five years later, he landed his first role, that of Dr. Philip Chandler, in the hospital series “St. Elsewhere”, which won an Emmy Award.
2. Denzel Washington met his wife on set
The couple Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson opened up about their relationship on the famous television show. Credit: The Oprah Winfrey Show
In 1977 Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson starred in the TV movie « Wilma », a biographical film about Olympic gold medalist sprinter Wilma Rudolph. They crossed paths playing secondary roles: he played Rudolph’s husband, while she was one of the other runners. It wasn’t until a year later that they really connected, first at a party and then at a theatrical performance. During a 1996 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Denzel and Pauletta appeared together and revealed their affair moment. Pearson was late for the room, so she snuck out while the lights were down and sat in an empty seat: “At intermission, the lights came back on and we were seated next to each other” says Pauletta. The couple got married on June 25, 1983, almost 40 years ago.
3. Denzel Washington is the first black actor to win two Oscars
Denzel Washington has received numerous film awards during his career. Credit: Christophe D’Yvoire / Sygma
Washington can now boast of having been nominated nine times to the Oscars, eight times for his role as an actor and once for best picture, for his 2016 adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences, which he produced, directed and starred in. Of those nine nominations, Washington won twice: once for Best Actor (for “Training Day” in 2002) and once for Best Supporting Actor (for “Glory” in 1990). This puts Washington in the same category as actors like Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Jack Lemmon, and Gene Hackman. But that’s not all. His victory at the 2002 Oscars for “Training Day” marked two historic events. He became the second black actor to be named best actor (the first was Poitier for the film “Lilies of the Field in 1963). His victory in Training Day followed his victory in the Best Supporting Actor category for Glory in 1990, Washington also became the first black actor with two competitive Oscars. (In 2018, Mahershala Ali will join him, having again won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, one for “Moonlight” in 2017 and the other for “Green Book” in 2019). With his long list of Oscar nominations, Washington is still the most nominated black actor in Oscar history.
4. Denzel Washington has children who work in the film industry
Denzel Washington’s children have chosen to follow in the footsteps of their illustrious parents. Credit: Nina Prommer / Shutterstock
Denzel and Pauletta’s two daughters and their eldest son entered the film industry. Katia Washington is a producer who worked on his father’s film “Fences” and then went on to produce provocative dramas like “Pieces of a Woman” and “Malcolm & Marie”, in which his brother played the eponymous role. Olivia Washington made her screen debut in Lee Daniels’ film “The Butler” in 2013. Since then, she has appeared in a series of television series including “Madoff”, “Mr. Robot” and “She’s Gotta” Have It ”. In 2021, Olivia joined her onscreen father in the crime film “The Little Things”. As a child, John David Washington got his first film credits as an extra in some of his father’s films, including “Malcolm X” and “Devil in A Blue Dress”. In 2018 he himself became a main actor, starring in such remarkable films as “BlacKkKlansman” by Spike Lee, “Tenet” by Christopher Nolan.
5. Denzel Washington helped Chadwick Boseman become an actor
Chadwick Boseman passed away in August 2020 following cancer. Credit: American Film Institute
Before being the star of “Black Panther”, Chadwick Boseman was a Howard University student, whose tuition for a summer theater program was paid by Denzel Washington. The two did not know each other, but Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashād had asked Washington to donate for education to help young black artists who had been accepted into the program. The actor accepted, paving the way for a new generation of comedian from this minority. Chadwick Boseman revealed this crucial connection on June 6, 2019, when he presented Denzel Washington with the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award. In his speech he said: “Imagine receiving the letter that your school fees this summer have been paid, and that your benefactor is none other than the most gifted actor on the planet. The offering of a wise man and a king is more than silver and gold. It’s a seed of hope, a bud of faith. There is no Black Panther sans Denzel Washington. »
6. Denzel Washington failed his first audition
After the failure, Denzel Washington finally found success on Broadway in the play “Fences”. Credit: Joan Marcus
When Denzel Washington first auditioned for a Broadway musical, he failed because he could not sing and his style of play was not suited to the theater of the time. He even spoke about this unpleasant experience during his famous speech at the University of Pennsylvania and used it to encourage people to never stop chasing their dreams, even if they failed. The actor finally made his Broadway debut in 1988, in the play Checkmates, when he was already well known to the general public. In 2010, he repeated the experience by starring in a Broadway drama called “Fences” in which he played the role of Troy Maxson. This anecdote proves the character andabnegation Denzel Washington has shown in his career in order to achieve his goals.
7. Denzel Washinton has a journalism degree
If he hadn’t been a journalist, Denzel Washington would have seen himself as a political journalist. Credit: Freddy Kearney
Denzel Washington discovered his passion for theater while working as a creative director at a summer camp in Connecticut. A colleague noticed his passion for the arts when he entered a talent competition for attendees and advised him to try acting. Following this meeting, after realizing that his love for the arts and the theater was very real, he decided to study the arts at Lincoln Center Campus. The future actor finally obtains a license in theater. He then joined the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California to study theater, before returning to New York to begin his professional acting journey. During this period, in parallel, he also obtains a bachelor’s degree in journalism. And for good reason, attracted for a long time by politics, Denzel Washington could have become a journalist Politics or television presenter if he had not succeeded in the cinema.
8. Denzel Washington has a (very) large fortune
This huge mansion, worth 4 million euros, located in Los Angeles, belongs to Denzel Washington. Credit: Diario Femenine
Denzel Washington is one of the richest Hollywood actors on the planet with an estimated fortune of 240 million euros, Evidenced by his incredible property in Beverly Hills (see photo). His immense wealth stems from the fact that he has worked in the film industry for almost four decades. And when we know how well this sector is capable of paying its biggest names, it is not surprising to see that of Denzel Washington regularly ranked among the highest paid actors in the world. Today, his average salary is estimated at around 50 million euros per year. For example, he earned a cachet of 7 million euros when he played in the science fiction film “Virtuosity”, but also the crazy nap of 22 million euros by appearing in the feature films “Couvre-feu” and “Training Day” in 2001.
9. Denzel Washington entered a military school
Denzel Washington’s passage literally changed the course of his life. Credit: Coffee or Die
When Denzel Washington’s parents separated during his childhood, he would have become turbulent and unruly because of the emotional shock he felt. During this period, he had a rebellious attitude and often fought with other children in the school. His lack of discipline forced his mother to send him to Oakland Military Boarding School to straighten him out. This decision helped shape his future and keep him out of trouble. On several occasions, in interviews, Denzel Washington has made it known that he would always be grateful to his mother for making this decision which has changed his life. And for good reason, most of his dating at the time, with whom he hung out regularly after school, became drug addicts or were involved in crimes.
10. Denzel Washington has already been voted “Sexiest Man in the World”
The 1996 edition of “Sexiest Man Alive” by the American magazine People made Denzel Washington its winner. Credit: People
Depending on your age, you may not remember this award that the two-time Oscar winner was honored with. It is, however, very real. Indeed, Denzel Washington was appointed « Sexiest Man Alive » (understand “Sexiest man in the world”, editor’s note) by People magazine in 1996. Thanks to this distinction, he became the first colored man to appear on the cover of the prestigious media. Since then, only four men of color have succeeded him in the people of Dwayne Johnson alias The Rock in 2016, Idris Elba in 2018, John Legend in 2019 and finally Michael B. Jordan in 2020. In the wake of his election, he declared : “I don’t take myself too seriously. I don’t stop in front of the mirror and say ‘hey, I’m the sexiest man’. ” Even today, this detachment undoubtedly contributes greatly to its popularity.
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Denzel Washington: 10 things to know about the iconic actor