Denzel Washington is certainly one of the finest actors working today, having earned an Academy Award nomination as Stephen Biko in Cry Freedom
and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in the Civil War action/drama Glory
. But perhaps his greatest contribution to American cinema is something he has done better than any other African American actor before him--transcend racial lines. As Douglas Brode, author of Denzel Washington: His Films and Career
states, "Denzel has always insisted, in his personal life, that he wants to be treated in a color-blind manner, while professionally he has always been on the lookout for just such film roles."
The best moments here are the revelations regarding Washington's film choices, including how he turned down a role in Oliver Stone's Platoon because, he said, he didn't just want to play "one of the black characters" who either "cleaned toilets" or "left before the fighting started." Instead, he pitched himself to Stone as one of the lead characters, the part eventually portrayed by Willem Dafoe. He has since gotten his chance at starring roles many times over, often with impressive results. This biography and film history chronicles Washington's film career admirably up through the 1996 drama Courage Under Fire, complete with 24 pages of photographs. --Walt Opie