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The Denzel Washington Bio

The Denzel Washington Review –

by Nate Lee


Crimson Tide

There are certainly more than a host of contenders for best film, all successful, powerful dramas where Denzel contributed heavily to their success. Most of the "real people" films, along with Inside Man and Training Day are certainly close runners-up. The dynamic, though, between Gene and Denzel is breathtaking. The close confines of a sub demand more skill than ever, as there is no scenery to speak of, and the necessity for an inordinate number of close-ups.

Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
The Mighty Quinn (Caribbean chief of police investigating a murder)
Ricochet (cop who is the revenge victim of psychotic John Lithgow)
Devil in a Blue Dress (post-WWII L.A. pseudo-detective looking for Jennifer Beals)
The Bone Collector (a paralyzed forensics expert out to stop a serial killer, with Angelina Jolie)
Fallen (detective, with John Goodman, trying to solve a bizarre case of pure evil)
Man on Fire (agent turned bodyguard out to rescue Dakota Fanning from Mexican kidnappers)
Mississippi Masala (a businessman in love with an Indian woman, up against the prejudice of her father)
The Preacher's Wife (in a remake of "The Bishop's Wife," Dudley the angel, played by Cary Grant in the original, out to rescue a Baptist church and its minister)
Mo' Better Blues (a jazz trumpeter)
Real People:
The Hurricane (Golden Globe-winning and Oscar and SAG-nominated performance as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongfully imprisoned for murder)
Cry Freedom (Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated performance as anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko)
Malcolm X (Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated performance as the title civil-rights leader)
Antwone Fisher (Dr. Jerome Davenport, who treated Antwone for anger management, in his directorial debut)
Remember the Titans (coach Herman Boone, dealing with racial integration on the high school field)
American Gangster (Golden Globe and SAG-nominated performance as drug kingpin Frank Lucas)
The Great Debaters (Melvin B. Tolson, professor at Wiley College in the '30s)
Crimson Tide (Second-in-command of nuclear sub who takes on the captain, Gene Hackman, to stop WWIII)
Glory (Golden Globe and Oscar-winning performance as a runaway slave)
Training Day (Oscar-winning and Golden Globe-nominated performance as a corrupt cop, opposite Ethan Hawke)
Inside Man (a hostage negotiator trying to help solve an unusual bank robbery in NYC)
Philadelphia (Tom Hanks' lawyer, accusing Hanks' firm of firing him because he has AIDS)
Book of Eli (Eli, a post-apocalyptic Paladin out to rescue the Bible)
The Siege (with Annette Bening, fighting terrorists as well as extreme American (Bruce Willis) reaction to terrorists)
Déjà Vu (New Orleans ATF agent out to alter time in order to save a ferry full of people)
Manchurian Candidate (the role of Frank Sinatra, Maj. Marco, uncovering a high-level conspiracy)
The Pelican Brief (an investigative reporter, with Julia Roberts)
Unstoppable (engineer trying to stop a train)
Taking of Pelham 123 (a subway dispatcher)
Courage Under Fire (Army Col., investigating wartime actions of Meg Ryan)
The Real Denzel Washington:
Pelican Brief, Great Debaters

Though the body of work he's done with director Spike Lee is brilliant, the real Denzel has the fire of a preacher, teacher and reporter. His degree is in journalism, and he does seem to use his Hollywood power and his acting power to put forth leaders with something to say, to teach, and to embed.
Acting Style:
Serious. Pretty intense for a guy who plays it cool and close to the vest. With the notable exception of his Oscar-winning performance as the seriously bad cop in "Training Day," (and somewhat in "American Gangster"), Washington is just cut out for the leading-man good guy, especially when playing a detective. Like most actors who have succeeded on stage, he can handle a heavy-duty speech, too, and make it natural and memorable.
Bits and Quirks:
An almost robotic absence of quirks, which makes him especially appealing at playing real people > The super quiet monotone voice, usually with a soft stare > Good hard stare, too, particularly at showdowns > A wide-eyed pretend surprise or pretend innocence, which often comes with a slight and quick dialect thing > Usually perfectly coached dialect from the Sidney Poitier school > Occasionally sly sideways squint and grin > Great at the dramatic speech, fired intensely from deep within, but not usually very loud.
Great Scenes:
Crimson Tide

> The Lipizzaner conversation with Gene Hackman
> The confrontation over the launch sequence
> The second confrontation, getting punched by Hackman

Manchurian Candidate

> Tackling Liev Schreiber in his office and biting the computer chip out of his shoulder
> The brainwashing sequence, where he shoots his own soldier
> "help me or shoot me" showdown with Robyn Hitchcock in her bedroom, and she pulls a gun on him
> taking the phone call from Meryl Streep
> The assassination

Much Ado About Nothing

> The wedding scene, accusing Hero
> The masquerade
> Discovering he's been fooled about Hero
> Fooling Kenneth Branagh into falling in love with Emma Thompson

Training Day

> Meeting Ethan Hawke in the diner
> Threatening to shoot the rapists
> Pulling a gun on Hawke and making him get stoned
> The final showdown with the crowd of people

The Book of Eli

> "You're going to lose that hand" fight scene in the beginning
> Killing the hairless cat
> The shoot out at the farmhouse
> The confrontation with Gary Oldman at the farmhouse
> Rowing to Alcatraz
> Dictating the Bible at Alcatraz


> chasing the boy and killing the innocent man
> the standoff with John Goodman and Donald Sutherland
> the showdown with John Goodman

Inside Man

> Pissing contest with Willem Dafoe over who is running hostage negotiations
> Brushing up against Clive Owen
> The phone calls with Clive Owen

The Mighty Quinn

> Inside the old lady's voodoo house with Emmett Walsh
> Almost running over Townsend
> Face off with Mr. Elgin
> Walking into the bar and playing the piano


> The whipping scene