Thursday, November 26, 2015

Denzel Washington fulfills ‘dream,’ visits Dallas Cowboys training camp


Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington made the trip to Oxnard, California to watch Dallas Cowboys practice Saturday.

The “Training Day” star said in an interview that it was a dream for him to be at training camp and explained how deep his Cowboys fandom ran.

“First of all, I’ve been a Cowboy fan my whole life,” Washington told a collection of media at training camp. “I’m talking about Duane Thomas. I’m talking about Walt Garrison, Calvin Hill, Tony Dorsett. So I’ve been a fan for a long time. Just to be out here is just fun for me.”

He spoke with some players in the locker room beforehand and watched practice on the sideline. Washington admitted that he didn’t attend a Cowboys game last year but joked that he wouldn’t mind sideline passes from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this season.

Washington was at practice with his son, John David, who stars as Ricky Jarrett in the HBO show “Ballers.” John David was a running back at Morehouse College and signed with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2006 and spent some time on the team’s practice squad. He also played in NFL Europe and the United Football League.

Viola Davis, Denzel Washington reportedly collaborating on 'Fences' movie


Denzel Washington will direct Viola Davis in a movie version of August Wilson’s “Fences,” the Tony Award-winning actress told The New York Times.

Ms. Davis, the star of TV’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” won a Tony for her performance as Rose in the 2010 Broadway revival of “Fences,” set in the Hill District circa 1957 and a Pulitzer Prize winner for the late playwright.

“They are making ‘Fences,’ August Wilson’s play, into a feature that Denzel Washington is directing and I’m going to be in,” Ms. Davis told the Times.

Mr. Washington, the Oscar- and Tony-winning actor, co-starred with Ms. Davis as Troy Maxson, a role originated by James Earl Jones, in the Broadway production. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company revived the play in its Downtown theater last year, with Kevin Brown as the disillusioned sanitation worker who never made it from the Negro Leagues to the majors.

According to, a film version of “Fences” was discussed as early as 1990, but Mr.
Wilson “was famously adamant that the project could go forward only if it had a black director, as the original 1987 Broadway production had had in Lloyd Richards.”

Whoa! The Guy From 'Ballers' Is Denzel Washington's Son!

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption">Probably John David Washington's reaction when he finds out why people are freaking out.</span> Probably John David Washington's reaction when he finds out why people are freaking out.
It turns out Ricky Jerret might not hate his dad so much after all.

After the Internet recently realized the actor who portrays Jerret on The Rock's HBO show "Ballers," John David Washington, is actually Denzel Washington's son, the collective freakouts commenced.
Twitter couldn't handle it and Instagram was even more frazzled. As someone aptly put it, "Look at what God did."

And you should look at what God did. Seeing the pair side by side, it's amazing no one caught on sooner:

Yeah, they're father and son, or Denzel is going all Benjamin Button on us and aging backwards. Either way.

As People notes, it did take a bit for us civilians to realize the connection, despite plenty of outlets such as Deadline reporting it before, but when the Internet finally got it, Things. Got. Cray.

Equally crazy, John David was actually in the NFL for a bit with the St. Louis Rams, but now with his role in "Ballers," it's clear the apple didn't fall far from the Denzel.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Denzel Washington says he'll direct, produce August Wilson plays for HBO

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Denzel Washington will be directing 10 and executive producing nine of August Wilson’s plays for HBO, the actor told the audience in a Q&A at the University of Southern California on Thursday. The two-time Oscar winner, who won a Tony Award for his performance in the 2010 Broadway revival of Wilson’s Fences, says he had made the arrangements with the Pulitzer-winning playwright’s estate to pursue the project for HBO. 
“I’m directing, producing — and acting in one [Fences] — and I’m executive producing the other nine,” he told interviewer Todd Boyd during the “An Evening With Denzel Washington” event. “I’m really excited about that — that [the estate] would put that in my hands and trust me. That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Wilson’s 10 plays, collectively called the August Wilson Century Cycle, explored the African-American experience in the 20th century, including the effects of slavery and Civil War on the culture in the 1900s. In addition to the news of his directing and producing project, Washington said that Viola Davis — his costar in Fences — will act alongside him in the HBO version.

Denzel Washington to Direct and Star in August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Adaptation at HBO

Denzel Washington Fences
While everyone knows Denzel Washington for his two-time Oscar-winning acting skills, you may forget that the actor has also gotten behind the camera as a director for Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters. And now he’s preparing for another stint wearing several hats on the movie set as director, producer and star of a new project at HBO.
During An Evening With Denzel Washington & Dr. Todd Boyd Friday night at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the actor revealed that he recently made a deal with HBO to adapt August Wilson‘s 2010 Broadway play Fences into a film at HBO. And that’s just the beginning of a whole batch of HBO projects based on Wilson’s work.
Find out more about the Denzel Washington Fences project and more below!
THR has word from the even with Denzel Washington where the actor revealed a major deal with HBO for not just Fences, but 10 total adaptations of August Wilson’s plays. Washington said:
“He did 10 plays. I’ve been given the opportunity by the August Wilson estate. I’m directing and producing and acting in [Fences] and I’m executive producing the other nine. I made a deal with HBO…We’re going to do one a year for the next nine years. I’m really excited about that.”
If you’re not familiar with the work of August Wilson, the actor described his plays:
“His stories are specifically African American stories, but the themes are universal. Families, love, betrayal whatever the theme is. People relate and enjoy listening to or seeing his work. He was just a bright, brilliant shining light who was here and then he was gone, but his work will live forever to be interpreted by actors and directors for as long as we’re here.”
Wilson’s set of ten plays is also known as The Pittsburgh Cycle or The Century Cycle, and they all take place in a different decade of the 20th Century. In addition, all except one are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood, which is where Wilson grew up, dealing with plenty of racial tension as an African-American child growing up in sometimes turbulent times.
As for Fences, the story follows a former baseball athlete who struggles to provide for his family as a trash collector in 1950s Pittsburgh after being denied to join the Major Leagues due to being African American. The original production took place in 1987 with James Earl Jones in the lead, and Washington won a Tony in 2010 for his work in the same role on stage with Viola Davis, who will also be reprising her role in the HBO film adaptation.
If you want to look up information about the rest of the planned Wilson adaptations, they’re called Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. Sounds like HBO has quite a full roster of work for Washington in the future, though he won’t be directing and starring in all of them.
We’re not sure when Fences might get off the ground, but as soon as we hear something about Denzel Washington’s next directorial endeavor, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Denzel Washington's Greatest Role: Mentor

The Boys & Girls Clubs' most famous alum inspires kids to follow his lead.
By Matt McMillen
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

Walking to Nathan Hale elementary school in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Denzel Washington passed the construction site for the Boys Club building each morning, anxious to get inside.
"I was 5, 6, maybe 7 years old, and I couldn't wait," he recalls. "My mother took me there when it finally opened, and the rest is history."
The two-time Academy Award­winner and star of the new film The Equalizer says the Boys Club of Mount Vernon (later renamed the Boys & Girls Club) helped set the foundation for his success. He's been the national spokesman for Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for more than 2 decades now. "I'm asked to do a lot of things, but this is one [cause] that I can speak honestly about," says Washington, 59. "I know what was done for me there, and I'm sure there are thousands of young men and women who can attest to the same difference it made in their lives."
Washington, who grew up in Mount Vernon, a city just north of the Bronx, was the son of loving but busy parents. His father was a Pentecostal minister who worked two jobs during the week and preached on Saturdays and Sundays. His mother owned and ran a beauty parlor. Washington needed a place to be after school, and the club gave him a safe haven from the streets.

"The lessons that I first learned at home and at church and then later at the club kept me from getting into any serious trouble," he says. Of course, he didn't know that then. He was simply thrilled to have a place to play, a place to be around boys his own age. "We were being taught good lessons along the way, but as a kid, that's not what I went there for."
Still, the club made a mark upon him in his 12 years there. Washington recalls with affection a number of the club staff members who acted as counselors and mentors to the many boys who came through the doors. Charles White was one of those mentors.
"I remember him saying to me, 'You're a very smart young man and you can do anything you want in life.' I don't know if that was the truth," Washington says with a laugh. "But I remembered it. Up to that point, I'd never thought of myself that way. Having an adult tell a child something positive like that is a powerful thing. Words are powerful. I remember leaving the club and walking home and thinking, 'Wow, I can do something.' I didn't know what that meant at 8 years old, but I never forgot it."

August Wilson’s 10 Plays For HBO Over Next Decade

Denzel Washington was in Beverly Hills tonight for a Q&A and broke some serious news. In a sit-down with “The Notorious Ph.D.” Todd Boyd, the two-time Oscar winner said he has worked an arrangement with the estate of August Wilson to direct and exec produce all 10 of the Pulitzer-winning dramatist’s plays for HBO. Washington said the  estate to do one a year on the premium channel.
hbologo“I’m directing, producing — and acting in one (Fences) — and I’m executive producing the other nine,” he told Boyd and the crowd during “An Evening With Denzel Washington” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. “I’m really excited about that — that [the estate] would put that in my hands and trust me,” Washington said tonight. “That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
He also said Viola Davis also will star in Fences. She and Washington starred on Broadway in a 2010 revival of the Pulitzer-winning show, and the production earned them Best Actor and Best Actress Tony Awards and also won for Best Revival of a Play. 
HBO’s reps could not be reached for comment.
Each of Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle aka the Century Cycle is set during a different decade of the 1900s and aims to describe the black experience.

Denzel Washington: Never Let You Down

Flight Denzel Washington
“God help me,” mutters airline pilot “Whip” Whitaker at the climactic moment of truth in Robert Zemeckis’s Flight. Whip has been hailed as a hero for saving 96 “souls” by crash-landing his crippled plane, having pulled off a daring, decidedly nontextbook aerial maneuver while maintaining the calm professionalism of a heart surgeon. Whip also happens to be an alcoholic and drug user with a messiah complex who’s almost continuously under the influence from the first moment we see him until the film’s final minutes. Like his jetliner, he’s locked into an uncontrolled descent.
The film’s redemption narrative depicting the downward spiral of a self-destructive individual is familiar enough. But what makes Flight a superior version of this narrative is a special effect that tops anything in the terrifying and skillfully directed crash sequence—Denzel Washington’s riveting performance as Whip.
Playing a character for whom lying and self-deception have become almost second nature, Washington gives us, with immense subtlety, the wrenching spectacle of a man who disappoints us without fail. This subtlety is present at every turn, for example in the segue from defensiveness to belligerence when his union rep (Bruce Greenwood) and defense lawyer (Don Cheadle) inform Whip that he may be facing a criminal manslaughter charge after his blood sample tests positive for alcohol and cocaine during the flight. That scene is capped by Whip falling off the wagon in the hotel bar: after slowly turning his double vodka around and around on its place mat Washington downs it in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it acting moment that tells us everything we need to know about misery drinking. And then there’s Washington’s sharp rendition of mortification and shame when Whip attempts, at the funeral of his flight-attendant girlfriend no less, to persuade one of his cabin crew to lie about his condition on the day of the flight.
Flight Denzel Washington
There’s no apparent calculation and little vanity in this kind of performance. Like any good actor, Washington gives himself the necessary emotional freedom, within the framework of the scene and the dialogue, to find the moments in real time, often with unpredictable results—he’s simultaneously in control and in a state of abandon. At the midpoint of a brief scene in which the intoxicated pilot pays an abortive visit to his ex-wife, careening from aggression through desperation to humiliation in two loaded minutes, there’s a fumbling hug-cum-wrestle between unwelcome father and hostile teenage son that’s simply extraordinary—and perhaps couldn’t have been written. Going well beyond his comfort zone, Washington refrains from explosive grandstanding. With a quietly devastating sense of pathos, he makes Whip’s disintegration and denial almost unbearable to watch.
Integrity. that’s the quality that Washington has most come to embody in his acting across 30-plus years. It lies at the heart of his appeal, and on screen, circumstances permitting, he seems to naturally exude it. We don’t know much about the man behind these performances (nor do we need to), aside from the fact that he’s a committed Christian and the son of a Baptist preacher who in one interview stated that “my work has been my ministry.” That’s an intriguing declaration, since there’s certainly nothing to indicate that he systematically chooses projects that send “positive” messages or strives to be a role model. As it happens, a pronounced Christian motif embellishes Flight’s tale of moral downfall, but the actor is equally at home and just as compelling as a manipulative rogue agent settling scores with the CIA in Safe House (12), Flight’s immediate predecessor in the Washington canon.
Training Day Denzel Washington
Training Day
It’s tempting to conflate Washington’s reliable, casually authoritative screen presence with the man himself. He prefers to shun the spotlight, and professes not to regard his status as a bona fide A-list star as anything more than a label. The only other actor that comes close to embodying the same kind of relaxed confidence, self-possession, and innate strength of character is probably George Clooney, and both have charisma and charm to spare. But unlike Clooney, Washington remains comfortably unglamorous, projecting regularguy at all times. (Interestingly, to his regret, Washington passed on Michael Clayton due to the inexperience of the director.) And while he has plenty of sex appeal (People’s Sexiest Man of 1996), Washington’s characters tend to be settled family men—only a handful of his films feature love interests, and since Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues (90), actual love scenes are few and far between in the actor’s filmography. Also unlike Clooney, Washington has made a great deal of money for the studios over the last 20 years and is therefore, in the eyes of the film industry, a high-value commodity at the top of his game. So far, that’s given Washington the leverage to produce and direct two respectable passion projects, Antwone Fisher (02) and The Great Debaters(07)—albeit with the proviso that he take major roles in each—and made it possible for relatively risky propositions like Flight and American Gangster(i.e., “adult-themed” films) to be green-lit.
Washington’s five-thriller collaboration with the late Tony Scott forms the bedrock of his mainstream success. Is there an underlying pattern to the actor’s buttoned-down submarine executive officer in Crimson Tide (95), death-dealing bodyguard in Man on Fire (04), time-travelling ATF agent inDeja Vu (06), compromised subway dispatcher in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (09), and veteran railroad engineer in Unstoppable (10)? What these characters share, along with the investigative journalist in The Pelican Brief(93), the hustling lawyer in Philadelphia (93), the laid-off factory worker turned private eye in Devil in a Blue Dress (95), the federal agent in The Siege (98), and the police detective in Inside Man (06), is that they’re reassuringly capable professionals—ordinary, flawed individuals who are faced with extraordinary circumstances. As played by Washington, with his instinct to contain rather than externalize, they maintain their cool and don’t make a drama out of a crisis. Self-control is key. As a rule, Washington doesn’t do misfits, mavericks, or loners. In other words, in contrast to someone like Nicolas Cage, he embraces genre material while anchoring it to resolutely level-headed life-sized humanity—no mean feat in today’s Hollywood. That goes double for the traumatized and troubled army officers he’s played in Courage Under Fire (96) and most impressively in The Manchurian Candidate (04); he never goes over the top. (To date, his only venture into mythic larger-than-life heroism is the post-apocalyptic neo-Western The Book of Eli (10), as a lone warrior on a mission to safeguard the last surviving copy of the Holy Bible.)
American Gangster Denzel Washington
American Gangster 
It’s ironic then, that in his two most iconic and acclaimed roles (Flightshould make it a hat trick) Washington plays characters that couldn’t be more at odds with the honest everymen that are his bread and butter. His performance as the eponymous Nation of Islam spokesman and black nationalist in Spike Lee’s milestone biopic Malcolm X (92) resulted in an Academy Award nomination, but it was as corrupt narcotics detective Alonzo Harris in Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day (01) that Washington finally finally won Best Actor. Set over the course of 24 hours, Training Day raised the bar with its depiction of renegade cops as de facto gangsters, and it’s safe to say that Washington’s tour de force as a ruthless streetwise narc completely upended people’s expectations of his capabilities as an actor. A pungent study in hardcore moral turpitude, Washington’s Jekyll-and-Hyde performance is frighteningly believable. In this one-man game of good cop/bad cop, Washington, who has said the part wasn’t difficult to play, gets the joke: Alonzo is giving one long showboating performance from beginning to end. He’s the id inside every actor, running amok, stealing every scene and upstaging his co-stars. But Washington also gives us the fear inside every bully in a meeting with three senior detectives who come off like Mafia kingpins, and, in the film’s penultimate scene, he gives us the weakness inside every strongman in a laughing/crying rant at the inhabitants of a gang-infested hood who’ve finally had their fill of his strong-arming tyranny (shades of The Emperor Jones). Washington even finds room for a fleeting glimpse of Alonzo’s humanity, when he visits his mistress and speaks almost tenderly to a little boy who’s clearly his son—although later he’s perfectly ready to use the child as a human shield.
Washington had a head start when it came to the role of Malcolm X, having played him in the New Federal Theatre’s 1981 production of Laurence Holder’s When the Chickens Came Home to Roost—which is where Spike Lee first saw the actor. Malcolm X’s 202-minute chronicle called for Washington to play the character in several phases beginning with his early years as a small-time criminal and convict, and his performance accumulates ever more gravitas and heft once he emerges from prison and rises to prominence as a minister in the Nation of Islam. Washington is so convincing and authoritative, and so free of strain, that the question of verisimilitude becomes irrelevant. You’re left in no doubt that his Malcolm X is the smartest guy in the room. The actor does full justice to the richly expressive, sometimes almost playful public delivery that was one of Malcolm X’s hallmarks—notice the infectious, delighted smile during the “powder keg” speech—and it’s as if Washington treats these press conferences and sermons as classical performance pieces. Indeed, a handy YouTube side-by-side comparison of Washington and the real Malcolm X making the same speech shows the extent to which the actor made the delivery his own. By the same token he finds moments to offset the man’s public persona: his sigh of relief in the phone booth, after his successful long-distance marriage proposal to Angela Bassett’s Betty Shabazz; or the five-second pause he takes before giving Peter Boyle’s police captain an amused, slightly gloating smile when the cop calls for the protesters to disperse after a tense standoff outside a hospital is defused.
Malcolm X Denzel Washington
Malcolm X
The ethos of discipline, self-control, and pride that’s embodied in the Nation of Islam scenes in Malcolm X resonates with the self-possession and emotional containment that are so often characteristic of Washington’s screen presence. They’re also echoed in other performances he’s given, the most recent being real-life drug dealer Frank Lucas in Ridley Scott’sAmerican Gangster (07), played by Washington with solemn restraint as a strict and remote figure who operates with locked-down, businesslike professionalism, until, after he’s caught, he relaxes, lowers his defenses, and reveals a disarmingly agreeable man—almost indistinguishable from one of Washington’s good-natured regular guys. In Norman Jewison’s The Hurricane (99), through sheer willpower, wrongfully convicted boxer Rubin Carter moves beyond despair to attain a kind of ascetic transcendentalism that enables him to endure imprisonment and hold onto a sense of personal freedom and dignity. In an appreciative 2002 entry on Washington in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, David Thomson suggested that Washington “is the first black whose stardom transcends race.” That said, his characters in Training Day and Malcolm X take their place alongside a number of other performances that to a greater or lesser extent foreground a sense of crisis in African-American masculinity, framed in terms of self respect, an inability to accept responsibility, and, once again, self-control. That’s what lies behind the misfortunes that befall Washington’s jazz trumpeter in Mo’ Better Blues (90) and furloughed convict in He Got Game (98)—the latter devastatingly tells his estranged basketball prodigy son: “Get that hatred out your heart boy, or you’re gonna end up just another nigger, like your father.” Self-realization through the instilling of respect is at the core of the Civil War drama Glory (89), in which a disorderly, untrained rabble of African-American volunteers is transformed into a disciplined and formidable fighting force. Standing out from the ensemble (and winning a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award), Washington plays Pvt. Trip, a bully whose contempt for his fellow soldiers masks his own self-loathing.
“The star by right of talent,” Pauline Kael accurately wrote, 25 years ago, of Denzel Washington in Cry Freedom (87), in which he played murdered South African political activist Steve Biko—the first of the real-life civil-rights icons that Washington would play. As written, Biko functions as little more than a tour guide to the iniquities of apartheid, but Washington brings him to life with humor, charm, and undemonstrative moral authority, and when he’s arrested and brutally interrogated, the actor doesn’t make the mistake of playing him as a fearless saint. Hitherto best known as an ensemble player in Norman Jewison’s A Soldier’s Story (85) and the TV medical drama St. Elsewhere (82-88), Washington disappears from the film at the halfway mark. But Cry Freedom, which made a real contribution to the anti-apartheid crusade of the Eighties, clearly announced the advent of a major new actor. Over the 37 films in which he’s appeared in the subsequent 25 years (setting aside his stage work), Washington has quietly but surely advanced to the front ranks, shrewdly avoiding the readily available stock roles reserved for African-American actors—and without ever straining for the false greatness of an “important” performance.