It was a busy end to 2021 for Denzel Washington, with his starring role in The Tragedy of Macbeth and his latest directorial effort, A Journal for Jordan, both coming out on Christmas day.
Denzel has also been on fire in recent interviews—at 67 years-old and over 45 years in the business, he’s been through many a press run, and recently it seems as if he’s decided to shake off the doldrums by offering the most charmingly trollish or otherwise devil-may-care answer possible. No canned answers here: ask him an obvious question about his acting process, a young actor on a show he definitely isn’t up on, or whether he’d like to work with an Oscar-winning director, and a winking Dad answer is sure to follow. Here are the best moments from the two-time Academy Award winner’s latest string of classic performances.
Denzel vs Damson
Things kicked off on the Journal for Jordan red carpet back in December. Denzel was asked by a reporter about Damson Idris, the Snowfall star who went viral for his Washington impression. A bemused Denzel admitted he did not know who the 30-year-old actor was, and the way he pronounced Idris’ name led some online to believe he had called him “Dancin’ Idris.” The clip quickly made the rounds because of how hilariously awkward the exchange is—there’s a point where Denzel clearly doesn’t know what or who the reporter is talking about, but resolves to let her finish the question anyway. The initial quote went so far as to spawn several follow-ups on an ensuing carpet, effectively beating the Damson horse.
Denzel Also Didn’t Understand Tenet
In an interview with Kevin McCarthy, Washington was asked whether he would have interest in working with Christopher Nolan, who directed his son in Tenet. Denzel proceeded to lean in real close to the mic on his computer and, with a sheepish grin, said, “Chris. Call me. Call me, Chris. ” He went on to reveal that he watched Tenet for the first time in Nolan’s screening room.
Almost Half of Alonzo’s Dialog Was All Denzel
While a guest on The Graham Norton Show, Denzel talked about his Oscar-winning work in Training Day, revealing that a lot of what he said in the film—easily one of his most quotable—was actually improvised. He posited around 30 or 40 percent of Alonzo’s dialog was lines and tweaks that he supplemented: “I added things. I shouldn’t say I improvised it from beginning to end, a monolog or whatever,” he clarified. “But I was sort of figuring it out as I went along.”
The Secret Behind the Denzel Tear-Drop
In a Variety interview, Denzel was surprised to learn he’s famous for always effortlessly pulling off the single tear-drop in his films. When asked how he achieves this effect, he cheekily cited his wife Pauletta as being an integral, physical factor. Which is much nicer and funnier than Denzel simply retorting that crying on command is Acting 101.
Denzel Pays Homage to Sidney Poitier
There have been some more poignant moments, too, including Washington sharing his thoughts on the late Sidney Poitier, who passed on January 6. Speaking on Today, he said, “…We had a 40-some-odd-year relationship, so I’m still digesting all of that and he was the beacon. He was the one we all followed and it was an honor to be able to call him a friend.”
Denzel Doesn’t Plan on Slowing Down Anytime Soon
This clip may not be a side-splitter, but it’s notable for the vigor in which the nearly-70 year old veteran talks about his future plans. Where some of his contemporaries may be easing up or contemplating retirement, starring in a Coen brother-directed film has Denzel energized to work with more auteurs who he hasn’t crossed paths with. He revealed he recently spent some considerable time with Paul Thomas Anderson and has also spoken with Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron. The Denzel Supremacy ends when he says it does.