An actor, director, filmmaker and producer, rolled into one Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr is one of the most versatile and prominent artists of Hollywood. The winner of three Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and a Cecil B. De.Mile Lifetime Achievement Award, Washington is best known for portraying real-life figures in his movies. From playing the role of a football coach to a boxer, and from a drug kingpin to a poet, he has done it all and has the reputation of essaying his roles with panache. Apart from acting in films, Washington has also appeared in several theatres and TV shows.
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, Denzel Washington is the son of Denzel Hayes Washington, Sr and Lennis `Lynee` Nee Lowe. His father, a native of Buckingham Country, Virginia was an ordained Pentecostal minister and his mother who was raised in Harlem owned a beauty parlor. The actor who spent most of his childhood in Mount Vernon attended Pennington-Grimes Elementary School until 1968. At the age of 14, after his parents divorced his mother sent him to Oakland Military Academy, a private preparatory school in New Windsor, New York. After studying at the academy for a couple of years, Washington then moved to Mainland High School, a public high school in Daytona Beach, Florida. After completing his schooling the actor pursued a B.A degree in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University.
After completing his graduation, Washington then enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus to study acting. At the college, he played the lead roles in Shakespeare`s Othello and Eugene O`Neill`s The Emperor Jones. He later attended American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for one year before eventually returning to New York to being a full-time career in acting.
Denzel Washington married Pauletta Pearson on 25th June 1983 whom he had met on the sets of the television film, Wilma. The couple has four children, John David, Katia, and twins Malcolm and Olivia.
While pursuing his graduation in Fordham University, Denzel Washington spent the summer of 1976 at Summer Stock Theater where he performed in a play titled Wings of the Morning. A year later after finishing his graduation, Washington made his acting debut on screen with the TV film, Wilma. Having discovered his interest in acting, Washington went onto pursue a career of his choice and made his first Hollywood appearance in the 1981 film Carbon Copy. Following his debut, the actor was out of action for three years; he made a comeback in 1984 with the American drama film, A Soldier`s Story directed by Norman Jewison, which won the New York Drama Critics Award at the Toronto Film Festival.
From 1984 to 1986, the actor appeared in a single film titled Power (1986). The following year, director Richard Attenborough cast Washington in his British epic drama film titled Cry Freedom. The film set in the late 1970`s garnered mostly positive reviews and it won several awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and the British Academy Film Awards. Over the next couple of years, Washington appeared in three films, For Queen and Country (1988), The Mighty Quinn (1989) and Glory (1989), which was a stupendous hit and Washington for his brilliant performance won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 62nd Academy Awards.
In 1992, Denzel Washington appeared in the critically acclaimed biographical film titled Malcolm X directed by Spike Lee. The film was based on the former Afro-American activist, Malcolm X where Washington appeared in the titular role shared the screen space with Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman, Jr and Delroy Lindo. The following year, Washington had three releases viz. Much Ado About Nothing, The Pelican Brief and Philadelphia. While the first two films did not create any buzz, Philadelphia received mostly positive reviews and was a box-office hit. The film co-starring Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films that acknowledged HIV/AIDS and homosexuality.
In his first release in the year 1995, Crimson Tide, Washington played the role of a Lieutenant Commander, Ron Hunter. The film co-starring Gene Hackman received mostly positive reviews and grossed more than 155 million US dollars at the box office. His other successful movie of the year was Devil in a Blue Dress, an American neo-noir mystery film directed by Carl Franklin. The film garnered positive reviews and was a massive commercial hit. At the start of 1996, he collaborated with director Edward Zwick for the second time in his career for a war film titled Courage Under Fire. The movie co-starring Meg Ryan released in July 1996 amidst positive critical reviews and Washington for his brilliant performance in the movie won a nomination at the 1996 Chicago Film Critics Award for Best Actor.
He also went on to star in films like Fallen (1998), He Got Game (1998), The Siege(1998), Remember the Titans (2000), all of which were a huge commercial successes, and received various accolades.
He followed the success of Remember the Titans with another hit film titled Training Day that released in October 2001. The film co-starring Ethan Hawke follows the life two LAPD narcotics officers for a period of 24-hours in the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. The film got positive reviews and Washington for his role as Detective Alonzo Harris, a corrupt cop won an Academy Award for Best Actor. The following year, Washington made his debut as a director and starred in the biographical drama film Antwone Fisher, which was based on the Autobiographical book titled Finding Fish, leading to Washington winning the Best Director Award at the Black Reel Awards.
In 2004, director Tony Scott cast Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell, Marc Anthony and Christopher Walken in his action drama film, Man on Fire, which was based on the 1980 novel of the same name. His other film of the year, The Manchurian Candidate co-starring Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, and Jon Voight was a massive commercial and critical hit. After the success of this movie, the actor next appeared in Spike Lee`s crime thriller film Inside Man that released in March 2006. His other movie of the year, Deja Vu directed by Tony Scott also received positive reviews.
With back-to-back successful films in 2006, Washington continued his good run in 2007 too. His first release of the year, American Gangst
er, a biographical crime film based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas, a notorious gangster who smuggled heroin into the US was directed by Ridley Scott. His next film of the year was his own directorial venture titled The Great Debaters. Over the next few years, the actor starred in Unstoppable (2010) and Safe House
(2012), for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama.
In 2013, Washington appeared in his first comedy film since 1996 titled 2 Guns
alongside Mark Wahlberg. The following year, in his solitary release of 2014, Washington appeared in The Equalizer
directed by Antoine Fuqua. Washington`s 2016 releases include The Magnificent Seven
, which is his own directorial venture. His 2018 project includes The Equalizer 2, where the actor reprised his role as Robert McCall from the prequel The Equalizer. He then produced Ma Rainey`s Black Bottom (2019). His 2021 projects include The Little Things.