There is a reason Denzel Washington was dubbed the greatest actor of the 21st century by the New York Times. The Oscar-winning legend, who is also a director, embodies every character he plays. Now, Washington’s fans will have another opportunity to see him shine in “The Little Things” – a film in which he plays a nuanced cop who partners with another detective to find a serial killer. Washington did an interview with the Financial Times (FT) about his latest project and his career overall. Here are three takeaways from Denzel Washington’s interview.
In “The Little Things,” Washington plays Joe “Deke” Deacon a Kern County, California sheriff’s deputy. He told FT he was drawn to the role and the script because ““it was a really interesting story I hadn’t seen before, with a scarred, cynical and guarded character I had not played before. If Deke ever had any faith, he’s lost it, but he goes on a spiritual journey, through the sort of hell that only a cop could understand.”
According to Washington, Deke is multi-layered and he was drawn to his journey.
“He needs healing, because he’s stuck in the past,” Washington said. “He’s looking for solutions outside of himself, in his work and desire to solve crimes, but the answer is really inside him. There’s a saying, ‘the enemy is inside’, and that’s the case with Deke — and the case with me as a person, too.”
He added there are questions he asks himself when considering a movie.
“When I read a script, I don’t think of it from the outside in terms of genre. I just ask myself: ‘Is it a good read?’ Which Little Things certainly is,” he says. “It was real page-turner, and it was exciting because I was like: ‘Oh, well, it’s not what you think. It’s like, wait a minute, who is the good guy and who’s the bad guy here?’ I don’t even want to use the word ‘thriller’, that’s putting it in a small box. People want to label movies, but The Little Things is bigger than that, and that’s what’s original about it.”
In addition to the new movies he’s acting in, Washington said he also plans to continue adapting the plays of August Wilson to film.
Though Washington has received many accolades, he said they aren’t how he defines his success. He told FT while he is grateful for having a successful career that has afforded him fame and fortune, it is not the end all be all.
“I’m happy about my career, but I don’t rely on my work for my happiness, and my strength doesn’t come from the accolades I get. I see myself as a man who’s trying to help, part of the solution and not part of the problem . . . to hopefully make this a better world, even in small ways. I can, just through my work, take people’s minds off of their troubles for a while. I always remember what my mother told me years ago: ‘Man gets the award, God gives the reward,’” Washington said.
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He added he is more concerned about the future of humanity than the future of the cinema”.
“I’ve already been given every award you can be given and I’ve learnt that happiness doesn’t come from that. I appreciate The New York Times but that’s really not what I’m here for,” Washington said. “My mission is more of a God-given mission, which is to utilize my talents to the best of my ability and to take advantage of every opportunity to be about God’s business and to share with others what I know and have experienced, the good and bad.”
While the world celebrates Denzel Washington for his immense talent, he is more concerned with taking care of his family and pleasing God.
He said one of his main missions in life is “my devotion to my beautiful family, my wife Pauletta, and my kids. All my children. are doing amazing things in show business in their own right, as actors or producers.”
A devout Christian, Washington also said he is more concerned about pleasing God than offending people who don’t agree with is beliefs.
“Trying to be closer and closer to God, that’s my ultimate mission for the rest of my life. I had to grow and come to a place where I no longer cared what people thought about that,” Washington said. “For a time, I was more concerned about who I might offend, or if I say that, I might lose some fans. But now I’m unafraid and I don’t care, whatever the consequences, I’ll live with them the rest of my life.”