One of the best known African American actors in the world. Among the highest paid and most loved. Magnetic gaze that ‘pierces the screen’, talent as a showman, eclectic and versatile. The gossip-free, spotless private life and professional stature make him one of the last remaining American gentlemen in Hollywood cinema.
The beginnings on TV
At fourteen, after the separation of his parents, he was sent to study in boarding school. He graduated in journalism at Fordham University in New York, where, thanks to the meeting with important personalities of the theater, he became passionate about the world of acting. Thus he enrolled at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he perfected his natural talent and his artistic predispositions. He gets his first major role in 1997, in the TV movie Wilma by Bud Greenspan on the life of the African American athlete Wilma Rudolph, but his figure goes almost unnoticed. On the set, however, he meets Paulette Pearson whom he will marry five years later, with whom he will have four children. Make the leap with Dr. Philip Chandler’s interpretation of the series With an open heart but his dream remains cinema.
At the movies with Spike Lee
The film debut is dated 1981, with Chicken is eaten with your hands, followed by his first Oscar nomination for the film Cry for freedom (1987) by Richard Attenborough, in which he plays Stephen Biko, hero of the war against apartheid. Very young but with the professionalism of a veteran actor, he obtained the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Glory – Men of glory, where he stars opposite Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman. In 1990 he met Spike Lee, with whom he established a close artistic collaboration: he was first a jazz player in Mo ‘Better Blues, then takes on the role of Malcolm X in the 1992 film of the same name. But it’s also the years of A ghost for a friend (1990) where he duets with Bob Hoskins and di Mississippi Masala (1991) by Mira Nair.
The great films: Philadelphia And The Hurricane
From this moment on, Washington was in great demand by film productions of various genres. Thus becomes an intense lawyer in Philadelphia (1993), in defense of an AIDS patient played by Tom Hanks, followed by the comedy Much ado about nothing (1993), the detective The Pelican Report (1993) and adrenaline Red alert (1995). Work again with Spike Lee in He Got Game (1998), where a prisoner is struggling with a promised child of basketball, then, after the action movie Power attack (1998), prepares for the role of boxer Rubin Carter in The Hurricane (1999), a role that makes him even more popular and makes him raise the cachet required to work on the next films.
The internationally successful colossals
Each feature film interpreted is a guaranteed success: The Bone Collector (1999), The taste of victory (2000), John Q. (2001) and Training Day (2002), a film for which he obtained the Oscar for Best Actor. A few years later, Washington tries his hand at his second directing, later Antwone Fisher of 2002, with The Great Debaters (2007) which was nominated for a Golden Globe for best film in the drama section. It is also the period dedicated to thrillers (The Manchurian Candidate, Out of Time, Déjà – Vu – Race against time) which reaches the apex of synthesis between quality and intrigue with Inside Man (2006) by Spike Lee, where he is a dandy cop fighting with a group of alleged kidnappers.
Criminal or cop?
He manages to surprise again with the interpretation of a criminal in American Gangster (2008) where we see him alongside Russell Crowe, and in Pelham 1-2-3: Hostages on the subway (2009) by Tony Scott, where he totally changes roles and tries to save the people kidnapped by an obscure John Travolta. In 2010 it is in the sequel Inside Man 2, The Book of Eli And Unstoppable – Out of Control. We have to wait two years to see it again on the big screen, when it comes back with Safe House – Nobody is safe by Daniel Espinosa, a thriller in which he plays the criminal-witness guarded by Ryan Reynolds, and with Flight by Robert Zemeckis, as an alcoholic airplane pilot. He then stars opposite Mark Wahlberg in Baltasar Kormákur’s action film Loose dogs (2013). It will be directed by Antoine Fuqua first in 2014 in The Equalizer – The Avenger and then in 2016 it The magnificent seven. The same year he directs and interprets Barriers, film that garnered four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actor in Washington and Best Supporting Actress to Viola Davis). In 2018 he interprets
The Equalizer 2 – Without Forgiveness by Antoine Fuqua.
In 2021 it is directed by John Lee Hancock in Until the last clue.