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GQ’ed: DENZEL WASHINGTON Rocks The Cover Of GQ Magazine! [Part 2]

In the preview of the GQ October issue, two-time Oscar winner and box-office giant Denzel Washington shows readers how to dominate a double-breasted suit…

His GQ interview continued:

When you met with Frank Lucas before American Gangster, what were you, as an actor, looking for?

The answers. I found a guy who can knock people off. How do you act that? When we were working on Man on Fire, [director] Tony Scott* sent me a tape about the Iceman, the guy that killed all of those people. Later I saw this footage of a young girl getting shot. She didn’t do anything but drop. It’s morbid fascination, but that’s what I’m looking for. That’s what I did in Training Day. After I get shot, there’s no last speech. I want that reality.

Training Day has become a new classic.

A lot of credit goes to Antoine Fuqua, the director. He brought the gangster aspect into it. The script was more like a 2000 version of a Lethal Weapon kind of guy. That line “King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on me”—I made that up. The character’s ego, he just did not think he could lose. That was his problem.

Your father was a Pentecostal preacher.

Yes. I went every Sunday as a kid, so I can relate to the people who don’t like it because there was a time when it was a job. We all go through our rebellion.

I read somewhere that you said you once felt yourself being filled with the Holy Spirit.

That was thirty years ago, at the church I still attend. The minister was preaching, “Just let it go.” I said, “I’m going to go with it.” And I had this tremendous physical and spiritual experience. It did frighten me. I was slobbering, crying, sweating. My cheeks blew up. I was purging. It was too intense. It almost drove me away. I called my mother, and she said I was being filled with the Holy Spirit. I was like, “Does that mean I can never have wine again?”

I look at Mitt Romney with his spirituality, and he’s chosen not to talk about his faith.

Yeah, he hasn’t even brought it up.

But if he just said, “Here’s my path,” I would love to hear it.

When I see him, he’s always uncomfortable. You can see that uncomfortableness. Forget about his being Mormon. He hasn’t said anything about his faith.

Was it hard being the son of a preacher?

As a child, no. He wasn’t a taskmaster, but there were certain things you couldn’t do. He had his own church, and it was a long Sunday, because you had to be there all day.

Why did your parents divorce?

You’d have to ask one of them. Why do people separate?

They never told you….

We didn’t have a sit-down. They’re a different generation. I didn’t ask—you just assumed. For lack of love, or whatever their reason. I never asked. What else would I want to know? I didn’t see it coming. But I wasn’t looking. I was 14.

And then you were estranged from your father for a bit?

I was away in private school. And my mother came and said, “Go get your keys, we don’t live in our house no more.” So between 14 and 18, I lived with her until it got to be too much to handle. [laughs] Then I lived with him. And he kicked me out. He said, “You’re just bad.”

Then what?

It all kind of came together around the time that I started acting at Fordham. I was 20 and had a 1.8 GPA, and they were going to throw me out. So I took a semester off. And I remember standing in front of the army recruiting office like, “I don’t want to go in the army.” I started acting because I had done a lot of work with kids. I was at a YMCA camp. And we did a talent show for the kids. And this guy said, “You looked like a natural up there.” So I said, “Let me try to act.” That was September of ’75. And my senior year, ’76, I got an apartment on 310 or 312 West 93rd. Just roaches everywhere.

Is it true your first professional on-camera work was a Fruit of the Loom commercial?

I remember something to do with Fruit of the Loom, but I don’t think I got that. I did a Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. And I did a Burger King with Jeff Daniels. Or was it Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks with Jeff Daniels? That was ’77.

Your father died as you were working on Malcolm X.

I was flying to New York to meet with Spike, and when we landed my brother was there. The first thing I thought was Mom died. And he said, “Dad had a stroke.” That was April of ’91, and he died in August. We started shooting around the time that he died. [pauses] I never shed a tear for my father. That sounds like a book or a song. I never did all through the funeral and all that. There was no connection.

Were you angry with your father when your parents split?

First of all, he worked two or three jobs. So I didn’t see him that much. Uh, the things I did, like sports and things, he wasn’t really… I guess being a spiritual man, or just because he had to work so much, I didn’t see him. My mother didn’t see me, either—the things I did, the sports and that. Because they were working. It wasn’t like it’s been for our children, where you take them to all their events. It was a different time. Once they were separated, I was in school. So 70 percent of the year, I was away. In the summer, I wasn’t looking to track him down. I was ready to hit the streets. So you just kind of fade…. Not to say that I didn’t love him like a dad. But we didn’t play ball, those types of things. Next thing you know, you’re at college.

Part 3, the final installation coming up…

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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