by Tim Gordon, Charles Kirkland, Jr.
Today marks the 66th birthday of one of the greatest actors of his generation, Denzel Hayes Washington. Beginning with his inauspicious debut in Carbon Copy in 1981 to the present, Washington has evolved into one of Hollywood’s true craftsmen collecting two Academy Awards along the way, as well as a slew of memorable performances that have inspired, entertained, and served as a measuring stick for his peers.
One of Washington’s best traits is his ability to select films that are a great blend between his personal feelings and the persona that he has crafted onscreen. This is not to indicate that behind-the-scenes, Washington is disingenuous or his motives unclear, but he marries his strong beliefs with many of the characters that he embodies.
Among the films that Washington passed on was David Fincher’s Se7en, Michael Clayton, and a 1986 film that he jokingly referred to as “The N*gga They Couldn’t Kill” about a rapist who survives being electrocuted in the electric chair and a subsequent hanging. Washington explains that after having a conversation with Sidney Poitier he passed on the role based on how it could steer his career.
“With ‘Clayton,’ it was the best material I had read in a long time, but I was nervous about a first-time director, and I was wrong. It happens.” Tony Gilroy, are you listening? Maybe we can make this happen again one day? With Se7en, Washington said he initially passed it up because it was too dark and evil, but later kicked himself when he saw the David Fincher film in theaters. To this day, those two he cites as films he should’ve done (no comment on The N*gga They Couldn’t Kill).
To celebrate the born day of this iconic actor, here are my SIX favorite Denzel Washington performances:
A Soldier’s Story
The Book of Eli
Man on Fire
Check out the show, below: