There’s no doubt that you’re also familiar with another iconic Hollywood presence who’s come to define talent for many a Black person (and fine-ness for a lot of Black women, too) – Denzel Washington. The actor, director and producer are a legend in American cinema and around the world, having won two Academy Awards and even a Tony award. Taking his cultural status seriously, Denzel once turned down kissing one of the most famous actresses because of his Black fans.
He’s also helped younger actors and been a mentor in Hollywood, showing that helping is indeed a part of his character. Years ago, he helped actor Omari Hardwick who became close with the Washington family while working as a substitute teacher and football coach at a high school attended by his eldest son.
During his appearance on ‘The Real’ in 2016, Hardwick said: “They gave me shelter when I did not have a place to stay,” referring to when a television series he had been cast in did not work out and he went broke. He added that at that time the screen legend and his wife Pauletta Washington came forward to help him as he was living in his car and “showering at the YMCA.”
His own son has now become a star actor as well, and he’s been in the press speaking on his famous father – and the influence that he’s had on his career. In a recent interview with People that his father is not only his “favorite actor,” but is also the best to ever have done it.
“I think the best actor in the industry, in the business, is my father,” he said. “I’m inspired by the kind of career he’s had and what he’s had to do. Again, he’s been on the frontline for many years and what he’s done with it, with his opportunities, I just am so inspired and continue to be inspired by what he does and how he works and his approach to the craft and the business.”
Denzel recently was in the press for a recalled memory from Katie Couric while on a podcast in which she recalled a situation where she asked Denzel about his politics. Whether he took her questions in the wrong context or not, Washington didn’t mince words with Couric. Washington was on his feet and quick to shut down what he thought were questions that felt loaded; Couric swears that she didn’t understand why he was taking them a certain way that she didn’t intended.
So, it’s no surprise that Denzel Washington, an principled actor with an understanding for cultural sensitivity, didn’t want to kiss White actress Julia Roberts during the filming of their film The Pelican Brief back in 1993.
A resurfaced NY Daily News report that covered Alison Samuels’ book “Off the Record” details that Denzel wouldn’t kiss Julia “out of loyalty to his female African-American fans”. When asked why, Washington said; “Black women are not often seen as objects of desire on film. And they have always been my core audience.”
Julia Roberts was later asked if she was up to kiss Denzel Washington years later by Newsweek, and she had an answer most women would probably understand. “Don’t I have a pulse? Of course, I wanted to kiss Denzel. It was his idea to take the damn scenes out.”