Denzel Washington, famous as an actor and filmmaker, is the first African-American actor to receive two Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actor Award in “Glory” (1989) and Best Actor Award in “Training Day” (2001). Here are 50 interesting facts about the Oscar Winner -
(Photo : Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank) Actor Denzel Washington talks about his new film, 'American Gangster' on NBC News' Today on October 19, 2007.
He is only the second black actor to win Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2001. The first was Sidney Poitier who won in 1963 and also received an honorary Academy Award in 2001.
He is named after his father, who in turn is named after the doctor who delivered him, “Doctor Denzel.”
He was born as Denzel Hayes Washington. Jr on 28 December 1954 to Denzel Hayes Washington. Sr and Lewis Lowe in Mount Vernon, New York City.
His father worked in local department star “S.Klein” in Buckingham County, Virginia. He was also a Pentecostal minister. His mother was the owner of a beauty parlor.
At the age of 14 his parents split up and he was sent to Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor, New York. Before that he attended Penington Grimes Elementary School in Mount Vernon.
“That decision changed my life, because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice but the streets got them,” he later said about attending Oakland Military Academy.
(Photo : Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) Denzel Washington as Dr. Philip Chandler
He completed B.A in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in 1977.
His first on screen role was in the 1977 movie “Wilma.”
He then acted in 1981 comedy movie “Carbon Copy.” This movie was rarely shown on Television due to its racial content.
He received distinguished Ensemble Performance Obie Award in 1982 for his performance as Private First Class Melvin Peterson in the drama “A Soldier’s Play.”
He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at The Academy Awards for his portrayal of South African Anti-apartheid political activist “Steven Biko” in “Cry Freedom” in 1987.
In 1989 he received Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as ex-slave soldier in the movie “Glory.”
There were many complaints from Malcolm X “purists” when Washington was cast as Malcolm X in 1992 movie of the same name.
Washington was too Darker in color and 6 feet 1 inch compared to Malcolm’s lighter skin tone and 6 feet 4 inch.
He received nomination for Best Actor at Academy Awards for his performance as Malcolm X.
For the movie “Philadelphia” in 1993 Washington had to gain weight for his role as layer and Tom Hanks had to lose weight for his role as a man with AIDS. Washington would often eat chocolate bars in front of Hanks, who starved to reduce weight.
To play the part of reporter Gray Grantham in “The Pelican Brief” he spent some time with Washington Post editors and reporters.
Originally, according to the novel the character Gray Grantham is a white guy where as it is played by Washington, a black guy in the movie “The Pelican Brief.”
When director Quentin Tarantino visited the sets of “Crimson Tide” he was confronted by Washington for use of word “nigger” in his movies. The former was embarrassed and wanted to move the conversation to a private place, but the latter refused.
(Photo : Steve Granitz/WireImage) Denzel Washington and family attends the 'The Book Of Eli' Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on January 11, 2010 in Hollywood, California.
Actor Bronson Pinchot accused Washington of being very abusive verbally to him and other crew members on the set of “Courage Under Fire” for the sake of staying in character.
He met two combat veterans from Gulf was to gather information and their experience, to prepare for his part in “Courage Under Fire.”
He offered the role of Julie Briggs in the movie “The Preacher’s Wife” to Whitney Houston, but she declined. He pursued her for a year until she agreed.
It is reported that initially he wanted Julia Roberts to play the part but changed his mind.
Director Spike Lee asked the actors Washington and Ray Allen to play basketball for real for a scene in the movie “He Got Game.” Washington scored 4 straight points to the cheers from cast and crew. Furious Allen then scored 10 straight points to which Lee called the game in favor of Allen and the shot was finished.
(Photo : Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic) John David Washington, Pauletta Washington and Denzel Washington arrive at 'The Book Of Eli' Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater on January 11, 2010 in Hollywood, California.
His next big movie was in 1999, “The Hurricane,” where he played the boxer Hurricane Carter convicted of triple murder.
He trained with a boxing coach for almst a year to perfect his role.
He received Golden Globe Award and Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for his role as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.
He played as Detective Alonzo Harris in 2001 movie “Training Day,” alongside Ethan Hawke. He still considers Alonzo Harris as his favorite character he ever played.
He won an Oscar Award for Best Actor for his performance in “Training Day,” the second African American to do so.
This movie also saw two African American Combo winning Oscars - Director Antoine Fuqua and Actor Denzel Washington. This is the first in the history of Academy Awards.
He holds the unique feat of more number of Oscar nominations by an African American, with a total of 6 nominations.
He also won the Oscar twice, most by any African American.
He made his directorial debut with “Antwone Fisher,” a drama movie in 2002. He also co-starred in it.
The main reason for him to play a part in his movie “Antwone Fisher,” was because only then it would be financed. However, he refused other stars who showed interest in the movie.
(Photo : Ron Galella/WireImage) Pauletta Washington, Denzel Washington and daughter Katia
In a coffee shop scene in “Inside Mand,” Washington ad-libbed a line “I will bet you can get a cab though,” for which director Spike Lee laughed out loud and almost ruined the take.
On the sets of movie “Déjà vu,” director Tony Scott and Val Kilmer, made shirts for the crew with the line “Malcolm X, Jesus Christ, and Jim Morrison: Deja Vu. How Can We Fail?” Washington played Malcolm X in the 1992 movie “Malcolm X,” Jim Caviezel played Jesus Christ in “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004, and Kilmer played Jim Morrison in “The Doors,” in 1991.
He was cast as the drug lord Frank Lukas in the movie “American Gangster,” in 2007, where Russell Crowe was cast as the detective. Ironically, they both had acted together previously in “Virtuosity,” in 1995 where Crowe was villain and Washington was a police man.
He won Tony Award for Best Actor in a play on June 13, 2010 for his performance as Troy Maxson in the play “Fences.”
(Photo : Gregg DeGuire/WireImage) Actor Denzel Washington, Wife Pauletta Washington and Son Malcolm arrive at The 30th Anniversary Carousel Of Hope Ball at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 25, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California.
He studied Martial Arts under Bruce Lee’s protégé Dan Inosanto for his role in “The Book of Eli,” in 2010. He performed all the stunts and hand to hand fight sequences on his own.
Washington has a fear of height and thus used various stuntmen for the film “Unstoppable,” in 2010. However, when he is atop the train and jumping from one carrier to another, it is really him doing his own stunt.
He was nominated for Oscar in 2010 with the movie “Flight.” This is his first nomination in over 10 years after the movie “Training Day,” in 2001.
He along with director Robert Zemeckis accepted a tenth of their usual salary in order to accommodate the meager budget of $28 million set by the studio.
He met his wife Pauletta Pearson on the sets of “Wilma,” and married her on June 25, 1983.
They have four kids – John David born on July 28, 1984, Katia born on November 27, 1986 and twins Olivia Rashelle and Malcolm born on April 10, 1991.
Being a devout Christian, he had considered becoming a preacher. Ironically, he has acted as a preacher in the movie “The Preacher’s Wife.”
He has donated $2.5 million to build a new West Angeles Church of God in Christ facility in Los Angeles.
He has appeared as a spokesperson for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and also for their awareness campaigns.
(Photo : Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic) Actor Denzel Washington and daughter Olivia Washington onstage during the 2009 MTV Movie Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre on May 31, 2009 in Universal City, California.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia named Washington as one of three people with whom they were willing to negotiate for the release of three defense contractors the group had held captive from 2003 to 2008. The other two people are directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.
He has two films on the American Film Institute's list of “100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time,” – the 1989 movie “Glory” at #31 and the 1993 movie “Philadelphia” at #20.
Washington was ranked #39 on the list of “Greatest Movie Stars of All Time” by Premiere magazine in their “Stars in Our Constellation” feature.