The Evolution of Denzel Washington, From ‘Malcolm X’ to ‘The Little Things’ (Photos)

Jeremy Fuster
·4-min read

Three Oscars, Three Golden Globes, a Tony, and a lifetime of memorable performances. Denzel Washington has proven that he is one of the most iconic actors in Hollywood today. With his latest film “The Magnificent Seven” out and his expecting Oscar-contending film “Fences” coming soon, let’s look back at his long career.

Let’s start with this picture of him as a kid that was used in a Boys & Girls Club of America ad, just to show you he was born with that steely-eyed gaze.

After getting started in Maryland and Off-Broadway theatre, Washington got his first major role on the 80s hit medical TV show “St. Elsewhere” as Dr. Philip Chandler.

In 1987, Washington earned his first Academy Award nomination playing the famed South African activist Steve Biko in “Cry Freedom.”

Two years later, Washington was officially a major star in Hollywood when he won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for his work in “Glory.” Washington plays Silas Trip, a bitter runaway slave who joins the Union in the Civil War, but who doesn’t believe victory will bring him freedom.

In 1990, Washington worked with Spike Lee to make the film “Mo’ Better Blues.” Washington plays Bleek Gilliam, a jazz trumpeter whose life spirals out of control as he makes one bad decision after another.

Two years later, Washington reunited with Lee to make what is considered to be one of the most defining works of both men’s careers: “Malcolm X.” Washington got his third Oscar nomination for his legendary performance as the legendary activist.

In 1993, Washington starred alongside Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia” as Joe Miller, a personal injury lawyer hired by a gay man with AIDS to represent him in a wrongful termination lawsuit connected to his disease.

In 1995, Washington began taking more high-octane roles, namely the lead role in “Crimson Tide” alongside Gene Hackman. The two men play commanding officers on the submarine Alabama that engage in a bitter struggle for power while a rebellion in Russia threatens to start the Cold War all over again.

One of Washington’s more polarizing films was the 1999 biopic “The Hurricane.” He plays Rubin Carter, a boxer who was falsely convicted of triple murder and who spent 20 years in prison before he was exonerated. The film earned Washington a Golden Globe, but also received criticism for taking liberties with the facts of the case.

In 2000, Washington introduced himself to a new generation of moviegoers in the Disney film “Remember The Titans” as the coach of a recently desegregated high school football team.

The following year, Washington became the first African-American actor since Sidney Poitier to win a Lead Actor Oscar when he played against type as the corrupt cop Alonzo Harris in “Training Day”

2002 saw Washington make his directorial debut with “Antwone Fisher,” a story about a Navy sailor with a troubled past that he sorts through with the help of a kindly psychologist.

In the mid 00s, Washington built on his “Crimson Tide” reputation and starred in a series of successful thrillers. Among these was a remake of the 1962 classic “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Then, in 2007, Washington played against type again and took the role of infamous Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas in “American Gangster”

In 2012, Washington earned his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination and sixth nomination overall for his work in “Flight.” In the Robert Zemeckis film, he plays an airline pilot who saves nearly everyone on board when he makes an emergency crash landing. Still, six people die in the crash, and the pilot’s new popularity is short-lived when it is discovered that he was flying while intoxicated.

Now, fresh off receiving the Cecil B. Demille Award at the Golden Globes, Washington has reunited with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua to star in a new rendition of one of the greatest westerns of all time, “The Magnificent Seven.” Washington plays Sam Chisholm, a bounty hunter who rounds up a new Seven to protect a town from a vicious robber baron.

Later this year, he is expected to contend at the Oscars with his adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences,” a tale of a former Negro League pitcher who struggles to deal with his new life as a garbage man. Washington played the lead role in a Broadway revival in 2010, for which he won a Tony Award.

Read original story The Evolution of Denzel Washington, From ‘Malcolm X’ to ‘The Little Things’ (Photos) At TheWrap