What do you think of Quentin Tarantino? Would you ever consider starring in one of his movies?
He's a great film maker. My daughter actually worked for him on Django. He really wanted her to come back and continue to work with him. She said "Dad, he doesn't sleep!"
Yea, if he asked me, sure. Depends upon what it's about, gotta see what's on the page.
You know, going back to that, he did rewrites on Crimson Tide. He obviously didn't direct but he was one of the writers on the movie.
What is your favorite line or quote that you have said in a movie?
What came right through my head was “King Kong”, but that’s not necessarily my favorite line, that’s the line that I hear the most from other people.
I don’t have one. Some people walk up, “my man” from American Gangster, but I don’t have one that I walk around and repeat because I’m onto the next one, so I’m not thinking about it that much.
For someone who has never seen your work, what would you suggest they watch first?
I would suggest that they watch two. Fences and Man on Fire.
What is the weirdest situation you've found yourself in by accident?
In life? Probably had something to do with not being able to find a bathroom in time. We’ve all been there, you know what I’m talking about. Haha, oh man, and it’s cold outside and that warmth starts…you know what I’m talking about.
Denzel, I am a big fan of yours. My question is how did you psych yourself up for the "King Kong ain't got shit on me" scene in Training Day, and how much of it was ad lib?
Thank you sir!!
That was an ad lib line, and I was developing and ad-libbing the scene as we went along, so we actually shot everybody else as I was working it out, and his whole thing was his ego, and I was getting real stuff from the real gangsters like shoe program and what that meant and all that stuff from the bloods, and from one take I just went off, and Antoine is like, “man, you know what you just said,” I said, “yeah”, and he said he wanted me to do it again. But purely it was his ego, Alonzo’s ego. If you look at the end of the movie again he’s getting out of the car and pointing with his key cause he’s trying to get out of the trunk where his guns are cause he’s still until the end not giving up, what did he say? I’m gonna win anyway.
Which one of your characters do you think you are actually the most like in real life?
That would be a good question for my wife. I don’t know. I don’t think any of them, not completely. There’s a piece of me in all of them and all of them in me, but I can’t say this one is really like me. Training Day was close. No, that’s the old me. The younger me.
Who's your favorite director that you've worked under?
I've learned so much from so many of them, I wouldn't pick one. I mean I love Tony Scott, God rest his soul. I've had great success with Spike and Ed Swick. Obviously great success with Antoine Fuqua, those are the ones that I just mentioned. I love and miss Tony. One of the best filmmakers is really...I'm going to say everybody and all the ones I leave out are going to be pissed but...c’est la vie. That's a good group right there. I'm sure I left out somebody.
How did you start your career as an actor and was it the cliché struggle that everyone always talk about? Thanks.
Interestingly enough I’m in San Francisco where my career sort of began. I studied for two years in NY, I went to Fordham, two years in the Bronx and then down to Lincoln Center and I knew that I didn’t have enough training yet, so I got into the American Conservatory Theatre here in San Francisco and I studied here, started on my masters here.
Hi, just wanted to say you are one of my all time favourite actors. A living legend.
My question for you is: What role if any did you have a hard time shaking off once the movie was wrapped up?
Malcolm X. My wife would be like “Is Malcolm coming home tonight?”
What is your favorite food to snack on?
For real? Häagen-Dazs Ice cream. Cherry Vanilla, number 1, Chocolate, number 2, and Butter Pecan, number 3.
Having done Fences on stage as a play and now as a film what do you think is the most difficult part to transition and is there anything you feel was lost/gained because of the change from stage to screen?
One of the challenges were the transitions. In a play it's lights out, the curtain comes. You can't do that but it opened up other opportunities to stay with the character that were left on stage in the play. It was a process. It was a slow process. Was anything lost or gained? Yea, probably! That's just the nature of it. You might lose a little, it’s a motion picture now. Some of the story is just told in what you see. You won't have to say it all.
Hi Denzel, I'm a huge fan of yours, and I'm also a student at your alma mater, Fordham. Was just wondering what your time was like here, if you have any cool Fordham stories, and when the next time you plan on visiting is?
I went for two years up at Rose Hill trying to figure out what to do in life, started off pre med, then I said I’ll become a lawyer, then I said I would become a journalist, but really all I was doing was flunking out, and then I ended up working up in Lakeville, CT at a YMCA camp and I did a little skit for some kids and someone mentioned, you ever thought about acting? So I went back to Fordham, I transferred to the Lincoln Center campus and I started taking an acting class, and that’s how it started. So even with my own kids, I said a liberal arts education is ok. You don’t have to know at 18 what you’re gonna do for the rest of your life and you know how it is in college you gotta declare something, well I’m not a doctor, but I played one. hahahaha.
Any plans for an Equalizer sequel??? Absolutely loved it!!!
We are working on the script. It will probably come out on the Fall of 2018, if we stay on schedule.
Do you still play basketball regularly? and who is the most famous person you have played with?
I don’t play ball anymore, those days are over, and I grew up in a town called Mount Vernon NY, and as you know coming from Brooklyn we had some good ball players, like the Williams brothers, Gus won a championship with Seattle, his brother Ray was a point guard for the Knicks. The most famous person…well I’ve hung up my knees so my ball days are over, so I didn’t get a chance to play with the president, that would be interesting. Cause he kept saying he was gonna serve me, and the NY ego was like hey you better check with us down here, check with the knees.
I don’t know who is super big. When I first got to LA, the hollywood high school they would have different celebrities, but a lot of the biggest named guys didn’t play, they just talked a lot. Arsenio played, but not a big big star. Who is the best movie star player? I rest my case. My days are over. In my time it was me, hahaha.
Do you prefer playing the villain or the hero?
I like mixing it up. I don’t have a preference. I don’t want to. More heroes earlier on my career, and then when I did Training Day all I got offered was villains, I guess they didn’t know I had it in my, but I don’t have a preference. Good scripts.
I have two questions.
What is your most "useless" skill?
What is your favorite song that you listen to to hype you up?
My most useless skill is making coffee. No, that’s useful. A useless skill, meaning a skill that has no use. How do you develop it if it’s useless? I don’t know. I’m trying to be useful. Useless? A useless skill?
favorite song to hype yourself up:
Depends upon what I’m doing. I saw Ludacris the other day in Atlanta. In different movies I’ll get into a particular artist. I’ve used Mary J Blige when I was doing a darker movie Courage in the Fire, and some of her music just helped me with that. When I did Magnificent 7 I used War because they have some kind of cowboy stuff, “Southern part of Texas” was one and “Gypsy Man” was a couple of songs, bands from the 80s, 70s. It depends I gotta find that vibe and it gives me a certain feeling that I like. Training Day ugh, whatever I wanted to. It was just filthy.
Longtime fan here and I’m looking forward to Fences.
First off, thank you for everything you do to support the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Growing up, I went there every day after school, and I’ve got to think that doing that helped shaped me into a better person. So thanks!
I do have a question though: How are you feeling about the Cowboys going into the playoffs this year? If it was your decision, would you start Romo or Prescott?
That's what you call Champagne Problems. You know Romo is ready to go, I'm sure he's looked at all the footage from Peyton Manning last year, it's his turn. I think you stick with the horse right now and allow Tony to continue to heal. He'll be ready, he is ready, and right now he's an asset. He's the best thing for him right now, to work with him and he seems to be very unselfish about it. I like what the owner is saying, he says, "I'll know it when I see it”
Call me Jerry.
What is something someone in your life has said, that you've kept with you- and has made a positive impact on your life?
My mother said, "Keep it simple." It took me a long time, wading through a lot of stuff, to realize how much of it you don't need. I don't even mean material, professionally, I've said this before, Sidney Poitier told me, "if they see you for free all week, they won't pay to see you on the weekend." So don't be everywhere for everybody. This is an age when we think the more you're seen, the better. In the movie business, that's not the case. Prime example, when is the last time you've seen Daniel Day Lewis? Right? Lincoln. Last movie did 3-400 million. That's the movie game. You want people to say, "where is he?" Like you just said, "When's Equalizer?" Those are two good things. Keep it simple.
Mr. Washington, Thank you for taking the time to do an AMA, looking forward to seeing your performance in Fences. I was wondering what is the best way of getting nerves to work for you rather than against you in a performance?
Sometimes nerves are good for you. I still get nervous, it’s ok, that means you’re alive. The only thing to fear is fear itself, so that’s a part of it. Being fearful is a part of it, but keep going. There was a saying fall down seven times, get up eight, so just keep going. We all have fear. Believe me I have as much as anybody else and we all have to face them. Face your fears.
Which place on Earth would you like to visit that you haven't been to?
Hmm. I was just watching something on Istanbul that looked interesting. I’ve been lucky to go so many places, hmmm. I don’t know. Any suggestions?
What were your toughest challenges when coming up in the acting world? Did you ever feel typecast, especially after TRAINING DAY?
What do you think of Jay Pharaoh's impression of you?
Ummmmm, do you like mozzarella sticks?
Yes I felt typecast sometimes, and for any actor rejection. I was always at my best in auditions when I already had a job. I used to call it a smell. You walk in with a smell cause you’re too hungry, you’re thirsty, and they can smell it, but when you’re working you’re like hey I got 15 minutes I gotta go do that.
I think Pharoah’s impression is more like the, I don’t know it was an impression of an impression.
Quick question: What sort of acting role would you like to tackle that you haven't tried yet? Thanks!
Hmm. You don’t wanna see me in tights.
If you didn't have a career in acting what do you think you'd be doing for a living?
Probably working with children. That’s all I did before, I was a counselor for the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA. So that was most of the kind of work I was doing from age 13 up until I became an actor.