Denzel Washington has worked with many of the greats, including recently deceased actor Chadwick Boseman. The two had a long friendship, but it was on the Chadwick’s last movie that Denzel gave him the best advice ever – to marry his then-girlfriend Taylor Simone Ledward.
Denzel famously paid for Boseman and a few other students from Howard University to study at Oxford, but Denzel’s own son has struggled with the legacy of entering a business in which your father is an icon. He’s talked about trying to step out of the shadow of his famous father in his own acting career previously while discussing his latest blockbuster film, Tenet.
John David Washington is now a bona fide star, without his father’s help and standing on his own two feet. It wasn’t always that way however, as Washington recently told fashion outlet Mr. Porter. Early on in his career, he hid his true family name in an effort to control people’s perception of him.
“I was related to Denzel Washington,” he says. “I saw how people changed when they found out who my father was. I used to lie, saying he was a construction worker or in jail, just to have some sense of normalcy. I felt like there was no way people would take me seriously, even if I was good. They would always judge me. So I hid who my father was. I guess I was protecting myself.”
In a recent interview with People, John David said 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.”
Many are inspired by Denzel and his legacy, including Boseman. In a recent interview, Denzel seemed to admit that he was also privy to Boseman’s diagnosis, and when noticing how much his then-girlfriend cared for him, he suggested to Boseman something that had nothing to do with acting.
“It’s fascinating that nobody knew,” Washington told CBS Sunday Morning. “Well, credit to him; he kept it to himself. It was nobody’s business. He was there to deliver, and he delivered.” The pair worked together on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for Netflix, which Denzel is executive producing.
“Certain members of his team knew. His wife was there. They weren’t even married yet,” he added. “And I used to watch how she took care of him, and I actually said to him, I said, ‘Man, you know, you need to put a ring on that finger’ ’cause she kept her eye on him, and she watched him. And I’m like, man, she loves that guy.”
Luckily, Boseman and Ledward heeded Denzel’s advice, and the couple were married before Boseman passed in August.
Ledward was also recently given permission by the courts to administer Boseman’s estate, ensuring that his legacy will be attended to by someone he loved – thanks to Denzel Washington.