Why We Love Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 11, 2009

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Our love affair with Denzel Washington is as long as it is deep. With his new film “The Taking of Pelham 123” hitting theaters today, we look back at the hottest Hollywood moments of our favorite leading man. Remember this sexy scene from “Devil in a Blue Dress”?

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Washington touched our souls as a fearless former slave turned war-fighting soldier in 1989’s “Glory.” His gripping performance also caught the attention of Hollywood’s elite and earned him his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

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A leather-clad Washington escorts his wife of 25 years, Pauletta, to the screening of the Spike Lee film “Malcolm X” in 1992.

“Pauletta’s been one good wife and an incredible mother,” the actor told ESSENCE in 2006.

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In the 1990 Spike Lee Joint “Mo’ Better Blues,” Washington plays a troubled trumpet player who finds himself conflicted with both of his passions: women and music.

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In Washington’s 1991 groundbreaking film “Mississippi Masala,” the sex symbol plays Demetrius Williams, a man who falls in love with an Indian woman in the deep south.

“I’m more interested in romance scenes than sex scenes,” Washington revealed to ESSENCE in 2006.

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It took someone extra special to help Spike Lee bring the story of Malcolm X to the big screen, and Washington was the man. And, yes, we still think he was robbed at the Oscars.

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In the controversial 1993 film “Philadelphia,” based on a true story, Washington takes on the tough role of homophobic lawyer Joe Miller, who agrees to represent a homosexual attorney who’s been wrongfully fired because he has AIDS.

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Washington earned his second Academy Award for his portrayal of corrupt LAPD detective Alonzo Harris in the blockbuster 2001 film “Training Day.” Being bad never looked so good.

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Washington looks as handsome as he does proud accepting his Oscar for Best Actor for his role in “Training Day.”

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A dapper (and rather press-shy) Denzel Washington does his thing for the camera during the recent red-carpet premiere of “The Taking of Pelham 123.” The veteran actor was named The Sexiest Man Alive by PEOPLE magazine in 1996.

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Washington is often spotted rolling up his sleeves for charity including being a spokesman for the Boys & Girls Club. Here he works the phone during Charity Day at New Jersey’s Harborside Financial Center in 2004. What’s sexier than a man who gives to others?

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We love a take-charge man. Washington is just that as he took his talents behind the camera and made his directorial debut with “Antwone Fisher.”

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Washington’s ability to embody real people continues to fascinate Hollywood. He trained for a year to portray boxer Ruben “Hurricane” Carter in “The Hurricane.”

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The thespian kept a packed house in “Julius Ceasar” on Broadway in 2005. It was his first theater role in 15 years.

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Washington matches his brawn with brain, and uses his star power to tell important stories of the Black community. He directed and starred in 2007’s “The Great Debaters” for a fraction of his usual rate.

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Washington, a Mt. Vernon, New York, native, returned to his old stomping grounds to shoot the 2007 film “American Gangster.” In the movie, Washington plays notorious Harlem gangster Frank Lucas.

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Denzel Washington is no stranger to the pages of ESSENCE and continues to be a reader favorite. Here he covers the April 2006 issue.

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These days Washington enjoys spending more time with his family, and can be spotted with his wife or kids courtside at the NBA finals rooting for the Lakers.

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Washington’s attentive parenting is definitely endearing, as he brought his daughter Olivia along to present with him at this year’s MTV Movie Awards.

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In his latest cinematic role, the father of four plays blue-collar NYC transit worker Walter Garber in the “The Taking of Pelham 123.” The film, costarring John Travolta, hits theaters today.

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