Beverly Hills, Calif. – If you ask Denzel Washington for advice on making it big in Hollywood, he’ll have no problem giving you a few tips.
The “Fences” star sat down with Fox News ahead of the world premiere of his latest action flick, “Equalizer 2,” and dished on why he decided to make this his first sequel. During our chat, Denzel reflected on his humble beginnings as an up-and-coming actor and recalled one moment that had a profound impact on his career.
“Sequel. That’s a word that somebody uses, sequel — I don’t know what that means, you know,” said Washington.
The iconic movie star said his decision to take part in "Equalizer 2" had less to do with the fact that it was a sequel to a successful picture and more to do with the script.
He explained: “You write something, and it’s something that you’re attracted to or you read that you want to be involved in, and you either are or you’re not.
“No, it wasn’t a no-brainer [to sign on for the sequel]. I had to read it and see. Just because we had success doesn’t mean I was interested in doing another one. It still had to be a good story, which it is. And, some people say [it’s] better than the first go-around. So, all of that worked out well.”
The two-time Academy Award-winner carries out an intense role in the high-action flick as a Lyft driver who moonlights as a government assassin, but mentorship and giving back is an undertone of the film, and that's what resonates with him.
“That’s what it’s all about — each one, teach one. That’s what it’s all about," he said sagely. "Reaching back and sharing what you know. Somebody did it for me. So, it shouldn’t stop here."
Much of Washington’s success is attributed to his days performing on Broadway and bridging the gap in his skillset from theater to film, and he recollected a pivotal exchange he had with a Hollywood great that shaped his entire perspective on his career.
“I did a play called 'A Soldier’s Play,' which was a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and award-winning movie and all of that – and an actor by the name of Sidney Poitier came to the play. This was in 1981,” recalled Washington.
“And, he came back stage and he said, ‘Who are you?’ and I said 'I’m Denzel.' And he says, ‘You’re good. You’re very good.’ And man, what that means to you – I get chills like it was yesterday.
“He says that, and I’m like, 'well if he says so, then [yes]," the actor recalled nodding vigorously.
"Especially, at an impressionable age where conversely someone could destroy you. And, especially just coming out of a show in a vulnerable place. You just finished, and they’re like, 'ehhh.' You don’t want that. You don’t want that,” he added, laughing at the thought.