Denzel Washington Jr. (born 28.12.1954)
Denzel Washington is an American actor and film director. He rose to fame in the 1990s and his career has been notable for his credible performances of real life people, including Malcolm X and Steve Biko.
Denzel Washington: Childhood
Born in Mount Vernon, near New York City, Denzel Washington was raised by his mother, Lennis - the owner of a beauty parlour - and Reverend Denzel Washington Sr. His father was a Pentecostal minister who also worked in a department store and for the Water Department, part time.
Denzel Washington studied at a grammar school named Pennington Grimes Elementary School. Aged 14, Denzel Jr. was sent to Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor. He later attended Mainland High School in Florida. When he graduated from high school, Denzel studied for a BA in Drama at Fordham University. He landed major roles in productions of Othello and The Emperor Jones Whilst at university, he played basketball, coached by PJ Carlesimo.
At one point, Denzel quit university for a semester and worked as a counselor at Camp Sloane YMCA.
When he graduated from Fordham, Denzel Washington won a scholarship to study at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. After a year there, he left for New York, to pursue a career in acting.
Denzel Washington: Acting Career
Denzel Washington's professional acting debut came in 1977, in the TV movie Wilma. In 1981, he made his film debut, with Carbon Copy.
Washington's lucky break came when he landed a role in St. Elsewhere, a drama that ran from 1982 to 1988.
In 1987, Denzel Washington took on what would be the first of many film roles in which he portrayed a historical, or real life person. The first of these roles was his portrayal of Steve Biko, the South African Anti-Apartheid activist, in Cry Freedom. The film was directed by Richard Attenborough and also starred Kevin Kline and John Thaw. Washington was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
Two years later, Washington starred as a former slave in Glory. This time, the Best Supporting Actor Oscar had Denzel Washington's name on it. Glory also featured Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman. Later on in 1989, Denzel Washington also starred in For Queen and Country, opposite Bruce Payne.
1990 saw Denzel Washington appearing as Bleek Gilliam in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues, alongside Wesley Snipes and Samuel L Jackson.
In 1992, Washington undertook one of his most highly revered roles, when he played Malcolm X in Spike Lee's film of the same name. He earned himself another Oscar nomination for his performance, as well as praise from the acclaimed director Martin Scorsese and the respected movie critic Roger Ebert. Malcolm X also stars.
The following year, Denzel Washington took on another challenging film role, playing a homophobic lawyer in Philadelphia, opposite Tom Hanks.
The rest of the decade continued to be fruitful for Denzel Washington. He landed a number of high profile film roles, including the lead in The Pelican Brief, an adaptation of a John Grisham novel starring Julia Roberts.
He later played the lead in Crimson Tide, with Gene Hackman. Taking a break from serious thrillers, Washington then played the role of Don Pedro of Aaragon in a modern adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. The film also starred Kenneth Branagh, Keanu Reeves and Emma Thompson.
In 1996, Denzel Washington starred in the romantic drama The Preacher's Wife, opposite Whitney Houston.
In 1995, Washington was the cause of some controversy when he refused to be filmed kissing his co-star, Kelly Lynch. He felt that the target audience of black males would not want to see him kissing a white female. A few years later, though, Denzel Washington and Milla Jovovich featured in a sexual scene together in the Spike Lee-directed He's Got Game.
In 1999, Denzel Washington portrayed the former boxer and falsely convicted murderer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter in the film Hurricane.
Denzel Washington then earned his next Oscar for his role in Training Day, which also starred Ethan Hawke. He was only the second African American to win a Best Actor Oscar, after Sidney Poitier.
Washington made his directorial debut in Antwone Fisher. He also appeared in the film.
In 2003, Washington returned to starring in a string of thrillers, including The Manchurian Candidate and Out Of Time.
In 2006, he worked once again with Spike Lee, in Inside Man, alongside Jodie Foster and Clive Owen. He then starred in Déjà Vu, opposite Val Kilmer. The following year, he took on one of his best-known roles, co-starring with Russell Crowe in American Gangster. The film was directed by Ridley Scott.
Another directorial job came with The Great Debaters, in which he co-starred with Forest Whitaker. He followed this with an appearance in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 opposite John Travolta.
Denzel Washington married Pauletta Pearson in 1983. They have four children together.