Denzel Washington, a most involved actor who is not afraid to commit!
We mentioned it previously: neither Denzel Washington himself, nor anyone (except Ruth Green) could have believed that the native of Mount Vernon would become one of the most important actors of his generation. If it begins in the late 1970s, it was the 1990s that gave him his first most emblematic and significant roles.
Spotted thanks to his performances in the TV movie Wilma (1977), feature films Cry Freedom (1987), Glory (1989), and especially the series St. Elsewhere where he plays the role of Doctor Philip Chandler for the entirety of the six seasons, from 1982 to 1988, his career took a major turn with, one after the other, Malcolm X, The Pelican Affair, and Philadelphia.
Beyond having innate abilities as an actor, Denzel Washington is also a man who is deeply involved in his roles, especially in preparing for them. For Malcolm X, he read the Koran multiple times and stopped eating pork. To experience the daily life of a journalist for The Pelican Affair, he joined the Washington Post for seven months. He underwent intensive military training for almost a year for Fireproof. And he practiced basketball every day, even competing with a pro player, Ray Allen, for He Got Game. In short, Denzel Washington is an actor who is committed… and he is committed to the African-American community.
We see this commitment in his performances in Cry Freedom, Glory, Malcolm X, and Hurricane Carter, although he eventually refused to portray Martin Luther King to avoid being typecast.
Denzel Washington didn’t appreciate Tarantino’s writing, and it got him a serious blowback
All this is to say that Denzel Washington is deeply committed to the African American community and sometimes reacts strongly when he hears or reads certain things. This even caused quite a stir on the set of the film USS Alabama, directed by Tony Scott.
Although the main screenplay was written by Michael Schiffer, other uncredited writers were often called upon to work on the script. Quentin Tarantino, who was famous for his offensive style towards black and Afro-American culture, was called in as reinforcements, given his success with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. However, these changes in the script, including the use of the “n-word,” reached Denzel Washington’s ears, leading to his anger.
One day, Quentin Tarantino visited the set of USS Alabama and was immediately challenged by Denzel Washington from a distance, demanding him to come over. Despite not having met before, a heated exchange took place between Washington and Tarantino. Tarantino tried to calm things down and move the discussion away from prying eyes. However, Washington insisted on having the discussion right there, in front of everyone, for about five minutes, leaving the rest of the team amazed.
Despite the altercation, Washington and Tarantino eventually resolved their differences and moved on. In fact, Denzel Washington’s daughter even made a brief appearance in Django Unchained in a minor role. All’s well that ends well!