At 64, Denzel Washington is already a legend in Hollywood, and now, as the actor who dazzled us in Glory, Training Day, Malcolm X, and Philadelphia (just to name a few) prepares to accept the American Film Institute’s 47th Life Achievement Award, he’s looking back on an extraordinary career.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Washington is currently working on producing a series of August Wilson’s plays, the first of which, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, whihc is currently is in preproduction for Netflix.
But in the sit down with THR he admits that despite his prolific work in film, theater is still, and will probably always be his first love.
“Theater. That’s where I started,” he explains. “Actually, it was a practical thing: I started acting in college, not because I wanted to act in movies but because I was looking for something to major in. I’d tried everything else and found I had some ability [as a performer]. The first play I ever did was a musical and I found out I couldn’t sing, and then I did Eugene O’Neill’s Emperor Jones, and the second [drama] I ever did was Othello. I wanted to be James Earl Jones and make $650 a week on Broadway.”
Although the industry vet may often get the spotlight, he explains how acting has become a family business mainly due to his wife, actress Pauletta Washington.
“I’m not a film buff,” he admits. “I think the reason my children have gotten in the business — two of my kids are actors and one is a producer and one is a director, in fact an AFI graduate — even more than that their dad is an actor, is that my wife is a film fanatic. I like film, and I watch more film leading up to when I’m directing than any other time, because I’m studying. I’m directing the movie Journal for Jordan next year and it’s a love story, so I just started looking at different movies like Brief Encounter, Coming Home. I’ll end up watching a lot, but for a reason.”
As for the rumors that he might be filming Macbeth he responds, “We’re doing it. Joel Coen is writing it and he’s directing this one without his brother [Ethan]. And Frances McDormand is playing Lady Macbeth. We’re shooting next year.”