A recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Denzel Washington deservedly won Oscar gold in the early 2000s for his magnetic turn as a corrupt cop on Practice Day. Since then, he has teamed up with the famous filmmaker Antoine Fuqua. But during those years, and even before formation day, Washington was also producing award-winning caliber content behind the camera.
“It’s my passion,” Washington told Oprah Winfrey in a 2008 interview about directing. “More than anything, I love seeing talented people doing what they do well. When you’re an actor, you get out of your trailer, do your thing, then come back. Directing is all about collaboration – the production, the costume, the script, the actors. I like. It makes me happy. At 52, I’m lucky enough to be able to direct. I want to be Clint Eastwood when I grow up! »
As we await the release of a third Equalizer movie, here’s a look at some famous films that have featured Washington as producer or director — or both.
6/6Antwone Fisher (2002)
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In addition to starring in it, Washington also produced and directed Antwone Fisher, which follows a sailor prone to violent outbursts, who is sent to a Navy psychiatrist for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man (played by Friday Night Lights star Derek Luke) eventually snaps and reveals a horrific childhood. Thanks to the advice of his doctor (Washington), he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew.
“You just have to realize the first time, you know. And having to act and direct — it was very difficult,” Washington told ABC News of filming the hard-hitting drama, whose real protagonist is the title character. “It’s about the boy. That’s what I kept telling the crew. That’s what I kept telling myself. That’s what I tell everyone. It’s about Antwone. It’s not about me. »
5/6 Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
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In addition to starring, Washington also produced Dan Gilroy’s acclaimed 2017 feature film set in the underbelly of Los Angeles’ overburdened criminal justice system. Roman is a driven and idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action. Colin Farrell stars as the tough, wealthy lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm. Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a showcase of the writing talents of Gilroy, who also wrote and directed Jake Gyllenhaal’s acclaimed Nightcrawler. Meanwhile, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Washington in a more frantic performance. It’s a unique treat and showcase of acting – no wonder his performance was nominated for an Oscar.
4/6 The Equalizer (2014)
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In addition to playing the lead role, Washington also served as a producer on Fuqua’s action-packed action movie that spawned sequels and a television series: The Equalizer. Robert McCall is a former Special Services commando who faked his own death in hopes of living a quiet life. Instead, he comes out of voluntary retirement to save a young girl and finds his desire for justice reawakened after coming face to face with members of a brutal Russian gang. Washington easily nails the role in this OG movie plus sequel, and we can’t wait to see the third Equalizer movie in the works.
3/6 The Great Debaters (2007)
Washington directed The Great Debaters in addition to co-starring. At the center of this film is Marshall, Texas, described by James Farmer, Jr. as “the last town to surrender after the Civil War” and home to Wiley College. In 1935, Professor Melvin Tolson (Washington) coached the debate team for a nearly undefeated season that saw the first debate between American white and black college students and ended with an invitation to face national champions the University of Harvard. The team of four, which includes a student and a very young James Farmer (the excellent Nate Parker), are tested in a melting pot heated by Jim Crow, sexism, etc.
“The movie isn’t really about how this team beats the national champions,” the late great Roger Ebert said in his four-star review. “It’s more about how its members, its coach, its school and its community believe that an education is their best way out of the quagmire of racism and discrimination. They would find it unthinkable that decades in the future serious black students would be criticized. by jealous contemporaries for “acting in white.” They are black, proud, determined, focused, and they express all this in the most spectacular way in their debates. »
2/6 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Washington served as producer on Chadwick Boseman’s latest on-screen effort, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In pure entertainment, the acclaimed film depicts the tensions and rising temperatures during an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await the pioneering performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues”, Ma Rainey (Viola Davis). We witness a frantic battle of wills with his white manager and producer for control of his music, which is played by a band featuring ambitious trumpeter Levee (the late Oscar-nominated Boseman). Adapted from the play by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson, this uplifting drama celebrates the transformative power of the blues.
1/6 Fences (2016)
In addition to his SAG Award-winning turn as the film’s male lead, Washington also produced and directed the adaptation of the acclaimed stage play Fences. He plays Troy Maxson, who makes a living as a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh. He once dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, but was deemed too old when the major leagues began admitting black athletes. Bitter over this missed opportunity, Troy creates further tension in his family when he crushes his son’s chance to meet a college football scout. Viola Davis deservedly won Oscar gold playing Troy’s wife in distress. It may be Washington’s best on-screen effort to date, regardless of his involvement behind the camera. Don’t miss it!
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Best Movies Directed And Produced By Denzel Washington, Ranked | Pretty Reel