Inevitably one of Hollywood's A list actors, Denzel Washington could have easily enjoyed the privilege and counted days when he would gain another Oscar. However, like many actors who had got so attached to their work, Washington was also addicted to the challenge of making movies rather than making profit and recognition out of them. Reflecting a dedicated spirit, it was understandable that he was indeed very serious from the very beginning. The son of Denzel Washington Sr. and Lynne Washington was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, Bronx, NYC. His father who was a Pentecostal minister had influenced him in the art of performing, while his mother who was a beautician in a beauty parlor had often took him to her work place and exposed him to the colorful conversation that eventually taught him the art of storytelling.
Stern looking and definite in his every act, Washington did not like his appearance mainly because of the gap in between his two front teeth. What he didn't know then was the fact that many people would praise and even adore his handsomeness. As a teenager he built an invisible wall that kept him from being lenient. And when in the age of 14 he and his older sister, Lorice were sent to a boarding school, he was devastated in knowing that the reason he went there because his parents didn't want him to witness the failing marriage. Upon the divorce, Washington would live with his mother and like so many children in the world, their first intended career was to become a doctor but somehow, he finally entered Fordham University to major in journalism. While he was there, Wasington discovered a new world in which he could escape from his tense personality. By acting he could express himself well and thus when there was an opportunity to play a small role in TV movie "Wilma" (1975), he immediately grasped it and luckily, he met Pauletta Pearson on the set whom he would marry 8 years later on June 25 and had 4 children with. Graduated in 1977 and winning a scholarship to attend American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, he didn't waste the chance. Engaging in some classic plays like Shakespeare's, he studied under the renowned Bill Ball but in the need of job he returned to NYC where there was a bigger chance of employment.
In his hometown, he began his acting career in many off-Broadway productions which mainly were produced by Joseph Papp. Among his favorite roles were those in Shakespeare's plays as he stated later on, "I did Othello, and Richard III, and those are the two roles I'd like to revisit." While his film debut started with the comedy "Carbon Copy" (1981) which was claimed a not funny way of bringing up the issue of racism. But he moved on to a better role this time in the series "St. Elsewhere" (1982) where he would become Dr. Philip Chandler for six years. Meanwhile, role supporting in the biopic "Cry Freedom" (1987) he devoted all his time and energy to portray Steve Biko and finally deserved the Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination in the 1988 Academy Awards. By then, it was obvious that he was one actor who would lead top movies to their success. Since the prestigious nomination, it was as if he had been guaranteed big roles in most of his movies. Starting with a lead role in the crime drama "The Mighty Quinn" (1989), he quickly strolled to the highly acclaimed "Glory" (1989) for which he got his first Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1990. It was one roller coaster ride where he was then on the top.
Maintaining his intensity in movies, he didn't exclude his next 'lighter' films titled "Heart Condition" and "Mississippi Masala" (1991) which both were comedy. And not forgetting his love for Shakespeare's works, he joined the expert, Kenneth Branagh to appear in "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993) along other prominent stars such as Kate Beckinsale, Emma Thompson and Keanu Reeves. The movie was indeed a good notification for Washington's continuing achievement, but it was in Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" (1992) that he was superbly brilliant. Portraying the famous Muslim martyr, Malcolm Little, he gained a nomination in the 1993 Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role category. Next he spent months mesmerizing in the life and jobs of Washington Post reporters to prepare his role as an investigative journalist, Gray Grantham in "The Pelican Brief" (1993). Showing such commitment, he was most loved by directors because he was effortlessly easy to be shaped into many different characters. As homophobic lawyer Joe Miller in "Philadelphia" (1993), he was successful in serving the antagonist ego by interviewing many lawyers before the production started. Then teamed with Gene Hackman in "Crimson Tide" (1995), he started to feel comfortable playing Navy suited roles that he also did in "Virtuosity" (1995) and "Courage Under Fire" (1996).
1998 saw his transition to thicker roles. In "Fallen" he gloriously brought the movie to its most suspenseful point while in "He Got Game" he totally changed both his look and character to match a raucous wife-beating husband. But in the case of "The Siege", it was much later after the September 11, 2001 tragedy that his role as the country defender against terrorist attack seemed to be more ironic. The next year, intended to score another hit movie by joining the cast of "Bone Collector", it was disappointing that the movie turned out rather more commercial than praiseful. It was, however, compensated by his next performance in "The Hurricane" (1999). Set to portray the real-life legendary boxer, Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, he couldn't risk being mocked by Carter's fans. So he trained boxing for months and met the demands from director Norman Jewison to lose weight until 40 pounds. The effort was worth as for the third time he was listed in the Oscar nominees of Best Actor in a Supporting Role category in 2000. At that point, his name came at no surprise to appear along the A list actors.
Turning to more heroic roles, he enrolled in several movies where he was completely sympathetic. Name "Remember the Titans" (2000) as a coach struggling to erase the gap between two different skin colored football team or in "John Q" (2002) as a father fighting for his son's heart transplant when the insurance failed to be claimed. Heart breaking but still, they were probably not the right roles for him, to the extent that it was more suitable for him to play a mysterious cop in "Training Day" (2001). The crime thriller film might give him a typical role but it certainly brought him a greater present, another Oscar winning for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Reacting to the second winning he said, "People say 'congratulations, you finally got the Oscar', and I have to correct them: 'actually, it's my second one. I won for Glory in 1989.' Some people say 'Yeah, but that was for a supporting actor role' but for me, it's the same thing." Sparing his other artistic side to leap out, he directed "Antwone Fisher" (2002) but still continued to act in several other movies such as "Out of Time" (2003), "Man on Fire" (2004) and "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004).
In his 2006 agenda, there were "Inside Man", a story about bank robbery negotiation and also "Deja Vu" where he would play alongside Val Kilmer. Then trying to direct again, he claimed the right to the biopic of Melvin B. Tolson to be portrayed in "The Great Debaters" (2008), in the meantime securing another leading role in the long-gestating project "American Gangster" (2007) as well as in "Journal for Jordan" (2009), which he is also set to produce for Columbia Pictures to distribute. As if not busy enough, the thesp moved forward to land one more slot in "The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3" (2009), a remake of the 1974 action thriller of the same name that would reunite him with director Tony Scott.