Denzel Washington is headed back to the big screen to appear in his second film this year. He started out 2012 in Safe House, and will end the year starring alongside Don Cheadle and John Goodman in Flight, a drama directed by Robert Zemeckis that is already generating Oscar buzz. The movie centers around an investigation of a pilot’s emergency landing, which saves everyone on board, but leads to a troubling discovery that he had alcohol in his system during the flight, which might land him in prison.
The 57-year-old actor is gracing the cover of October’s issue of GQ magazine where he talks about some of his most iconic film characters and reveals some of his earliest memories as an actor:
What’s your first memory of being onstage?
I was around 7, 8, whatever I was. We did a talent show at the Boys Club. Me and another guy, Wayne Bridges—God rest his soul—he’s the father of Chris Bridges, Ludacris. We decided to be the Beatles. So we went to John’s Bargain Store and bought fake guitars and wigs and did “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
When the Denzel biopic is made, what would an actor need to have in his performance to make you say, “He got me”?
That suggests I know what it is, and I don’t want to know what it is. That’s part of the mystery. It is what it is. I don’t go, “I gotta make sure I put some of that Denzel Washington-ism in the movie.” I don’t want tricks. I don’t want to lose my mojo.
When you were playing Malcolm X, you said one of the things that helped you “get” Malcolm was noticing that he was always pointing.
That was one of the keys. It wasn’t the key. He does a lot of that. And he didn’t say “against,” he said, “a-ginst.” So I started throwing in extra “a-ginsts,” because it made me feel like I was in rhythm.
I read somewhere that you said you once felt yourself being filled with the Holy Spirit.
That was thirty years ago, at the church I still attend. The minister was preaching, “Just let it go.” I said, “I’m going to go with it.” And I had this tremendous physical and spiritual experience. It did frighten me. I was slobbering, crying, sweating. My cheeks blew up. I was purging. It was too intense. It almost drove me away. I called my mother, and she said I was being filled with the Holy Spirit. I was like, “Does that mean I can never have wine again?”
For the full interview head over to GQ.
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