Mailbag: Denzel Joins Twitter
The actor's actor. In a microcosm of his singular career, Denzel Washington has kicked off his 2021 as a serial killer-chasing cop in The Little Things, and will likely (hopefully) finish it as Lord Macbeth in Joel Coen's The Tragedy of Macbeth.
In celebration of the two-time Academy Award winner, we're kicking off Denzel Month with a mailbag dedicated to the king himself.
1. Denzel Washington is an iconic look-giver. He can convey full sentences with a single glance. What’s Denzel’s best look, what’s he saying with it, and what’s the best nickname you can come up with for it?
Zach D’Amico: “Do not fuck with me.” Not creative, but it’s just The Denzel.
Ben Nadeau: I’m fully biased here because it was the last Denzel movie I watched, but this clip from Deja Vu is full of iconic looks. From the You’re-Shitting-Me-Right? to the This-Is-Patently-Batshit-Insane, Washington lights up the screen here, but none better than when the Val Kilmer-led time travel team try to explain how a person can be dead and alive at the same time. (editor's note: for more, see question #8)
Jonny Diaz: It’s this one. The “My Man” is classic Denzel.
Carson Cook: Despite all the fantastic looks Denzel has given on film, there’s one off screen look that’s seared into my brain. I call it the “you stole my Oscar, please keep my name out of your mouth” thousand-yard-stare:
2. Late-career Denzel still finds time for prestige fair (the upcoming Macbeth), but his primary output has become thrillers. Who would you like to pair Denzel with in his next one?
ZD: Denzel has never fully committed to a spy movie (The Manchurian Candidate does not count), and that’s a damn shame. I want him in a One Final Mission movie with a young protégé accompanying him. The young protégé? RENOWNED spy movie master Vanessa Kirby, please.
BN: As annoying and cop-out-y this answer may seem, Denzel’s got the comedy chops, I just know it. I’m thinking of a The Nice Guys-esque cop/detective team-up with Ryan Gosling. Hell, give me a non-grating Ryan Reynolds with Denzel Washington here and we’re feasting. Like, Reynolds doing a Colin Ferrell from In Bruges impressive plus Washington in Inside Man mode but with comedy? Give it an Oscar now (and my idea finder’s fee).
JD: I love it most when Denzel has another star of similar magnitude to play off of. There are plenty of folks who qualify who he’s never worked with before—DiCaprio, Clooney, Pitt, Blanchett, Adams—but there’s only one person I want to see opposite Denzel in his next thriller. Fresh off her self-referential Inauguration performance, it’s time for J. Lo to go full Out of Sight and team up with Denzel to stop and/or do crimes.
CC: “Washington. Reeves. Cruise. [Title here].” No way in hell that thing is anything less than compulsively watchable.
3. Denzel has been in several remakes of classic Hollywood films (The Preacher’s Wife, The Manchurian Candidate, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Magnificent Seven). Is there another iconic role that Denzel should put his stamp on?
ZD: No! No more IP/remakes!! Give Denzel original characters!
BN: I mean, it’s not a classic classic but Denzel Washington in… a Jason Bourne-style role would be pure bliss.
JD: In addition to being one of our greatest movie stars, Denzel is also an incredibly accomplished stage actor. He’s actively working on bringing August Wilson’s oeuvre to the screen, and is taking another crack at Shakespeare with Joel Coen later this year, but why stop there? Denzel should reprise his recent Broadway turns in A Raisin in the Sun or The Iceman Cometh for the screen, or remake Death of a Salesman, or pair up with another legend and do Inherit the Wind! The possibilities are endless.
CC: Listen, I do not generally advocate for remaking unimpeachable classics, but it has come to my attention that an update of 1955 masterpiece The Night of the Hunter is in the works. If you’re going to subject us all to this, you could do a lot worse than casting Denzel as the evil preacher/con man/serial killer at the film’s center.
4. Denzel is one of the most rewarded actors in the history of the Academy Awards, receiving 8 nominations and 2 wins, often for some of his most acclaimed work. But which of his non-nominated performances is his best?
BN: I’ve always been partial to American Gangster, and also the memory of seeing that violent, naked heroin house raid in theaters with my elderly grandmother. Your brain works in funny ways, I guess.
JD: Denzel is one of the rare actors who has had most of his best work actually recognized by the Academy. But to me, the most headscratching omission is his performance in Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia, for which co-star Tom Hanks actually won Best Actor. Sure, Hanks has the showier and more sympathetic role, but Denzel gives a fantastic and subtle performance in arguably the more challenging one. It’s a real two-hander, and I would’ve loved to have seen him recognized alongside Hanks in the Best Actor field that year.
CC: It completely boggles my mind that he wasn’t nominated for Philadelphia, but since I feel like that snub has been fairly well covered I’ll instead stump for his performance in Devil in a Blue Dress, where he so smoothly disappears into the role of Easy Rawlins that you’d think that he’d made a living starring in nothing but film noir.
5. If Denzel had a Twitter, what would Denzel tweet?
ZD: “RT if u think I should’ve beat casey A”
JD: It would be an extremely dad account. Just constantly tweeting about how much he loves his wife and how proud he is of his kids, with random throwback pics of his famous friends on their birthdays. But this will never happen, Denzel is too smart and too good for Twitter.
CC: Why on earth would Denzel Washington have a twitter. C’mon now.
6. Would you like to see Spike Lee link up with Denzel again? If so, what’s the plot of that movie? (If not, please kindly never write for this website again.)
ZD: They combined on a brilliant historical drama (Malcolm X) and a gritty heist movie (Inside Man). I say we combine those and put Denzel in the yet-to-be-produced recounting of the massive 2003 Antwerp Diamond Heist.
BN: Definitely He Got Game 2. News to me when I googled He Got Game 2, they’re thinking about it already! (Zion Williamson, however, I am less sold on.)
Let’s ignore the part where Spike Lee says Washington wouldn’t be involved, thanks!
JD: OF COURSE. Anyone who says no to this is wrong. I won’t pretend to be creative enough to suggest a project for those two, so instead I humbly request a Tea with the Dames-style documentary where they just hang out in a backyard and argue about basketball. No disrespect to Knicks superfan Spike Lee, but I feel like Denzel and his Lakers are going to be the heavy favorites in that debate.
CC: Honestly, I am going to be INCREDIBLY disappointed if Denzel doesn’t feature in Spike’s upcoming Viagra musical. He’s a theatre guy, let the man sing about his pecker doesn’t work!
7. You are in charge of promoting one of Denzel’s performances for which he could be retroactively nominated for an Oscar. Unfortunately, this also happens to be your least favorite Denzel movie. Which movie is it, and what is the one-line description of his performance that you spread around to the various guilds in an effort to get some votes?
ZD: It’s The Taking of Pelham 123. “I am going to green-light one ill-advised remake of a classic Hollywood film per minute until you give Denzel an Academy Award.”
BN: The Book of Eli and “Y’all liked Fallout 3, right?”
JD: Look, since you all apparently feel so obligated to recognize The Little Things, consider not embarrassing yourselves by nominating Jared Leto’s half-baked Vincent D’Onofrio impression and instead recognize a legend who is always good and never harasses his coworkers with performative stunts to show how ~*tWiStEd*~ he is.
CC: I don’t really have a least favorite Denzel movie, so I’m going to use this space to directly rebut Ben and make sure everyone knows that The Book of Eli kicks an incredible amount of ass and Denzel deserves an ENTHUSIASTIC, not begrudging Oscar for it.
8. Denzel is winning a Lifetime Achievement Award exclusively for his performances in action/thriller movies. What clip has to be in the montage?
CC: I mean, I understand he already won an Oscar for this, but regardless of how you feel about the movie, King Kong is undeniable: