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Denzel Washington: WebExclusive

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Denzel on being a preacher...
My mother owned a beauty parlor in Mount Vernon, NY. One day, this woman named Ruth Green was in the shop. I was sitting in a chair looking in the mirror and I see her through the mirror, sitting under the dryer behind me, staring back at me. She asked someone to give her a piece of paper, which my mother did. She said to me, “You are going to travel the world and preach to millions of people.” She wrote it down, with her name and the date. I still carry the paper with me today. My mother told me that she was known for having the gift of prophecy. Years later I asked my father, who was a minister, if I had missed my calling. He said, “You already are a preacher. Don’t change, just keeping doing what you’re doing.” Especially in roles like Malcolm Xand Glory, that’s the way I look at it.

Denzel on performing on Broadway....
One of the best experiences of my life in a long time was performing Julius Caesar on Broadway last year. It wasn’t something new for me, but I was scared to death because I was going back to my roots. Here I am, back again, 30 years later, 15 blocks away from where I started, doing what I was trained to do. You can’t say: “Cut!” and do another take. It’s live and you’ve got to keep going. That was exciting and I loved it. I can’t wait to do it again. It’s the energy you get back from the audience. In

Denzel on representing the race....
When people ask me, “What do you think the African-American community will think about you playing this role?”, I reply, “Well, I didn’t ask them.” I do what I want to do. I don’t live like that. I’m just doing my job, it ain’t that deep. I don’t take myself that seriously. I don’t represent the race in every way. People like me for the job that I do. And whatever they get from that and however they feel about that, is up to them.   

Denzel on making movies he enjoys...
I’m too old now to not enjoy the time. I don’t want to be in situations where I’m not enjoying the experience. One of the things that really made me happy was on the very last day of filming Antwone Fisher when I called “Wrap!”, everybody stayed, everybody went to the party and we all genuinely liked each other. I’ve been on many film sets where people couldn’t wait to get away. It starts at the top, with the director, but it’s also the material. Right now I’m getting a lot of scripts for blow ‘em up terrorism movies. I passed on them because I’ve already done that. Now I want to do something lighter and funnier and have some fun.

Denzel on his fans....
When I did Julius Caesar, I decided to go out and sign autographs after every performance. Sometimes it would take an hour or more. I got the chance to talk to an 80-year-old woman who watched me from the beginning of my career to a seven-year-old child who didn’t even know who I was. Or a school from Brooklyn that’s also doing the play, and talking to the young actor about how he’s interpreting the role. When I encounter a female fan who’s with her man, but acting very silly, I make sure I speak to him. I ask, “How you doing brother?” You know how men are, he says “I don’t want an autograph, I’m just asking for this for my girl.” I’m sensitive to that. I think it goes back to when I was a coach. I like to see other people doing well. That makes me happy. I get a lot of joy from it.

Denzel on what life means to him...
When I was younger, I used to say that acting was my life. Then, when I had children, acting became a way of making a living. My children are my life. When I caught my first baby, I said to myself, “Oh, this is what life is about.” I like the way Julia Roberts put it: “I’m an ordinary person with an extraordinary job.” That’s the way I am.

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