I plan to be writing a lot about Mr Denzel Washington over the next couple of months. He is an actor who I think is rightly revered but also severely underrated. Underrated because when there is the annual talk of who is the greatest actors alive, I feel he is wrongly overlooked or, worse still, only included in the discussion because publications and outlets feel they need to include a black face.
My view is simple, Denzel is one of the greatest actors to ever do it – black or white or any colour for that matter. I have seen a lot of bad Denzel Washington films – a lot of them – but I have never seen a bad Denzel Washington performance. There are very few actors I can say that about.
Take the film The Bone Collector, it is a film that is unwatchable on pretty much every level but somehow you don’t feel like you have wasted your time because of Denzel’s presence. Washington pulls the same trick in Déjà vu and The Taking of Pelham 123 – to call these films average would be generous but Denzel’s charisma alone makes them a worthwhile and at times enjoyable ride.
I repeat, there are few actors working today who can hold together a shaking boat of a film like Denzel can.
But other than being the charisma guy, Denzel Washington also happens to be an actor of the highest quality. I’d only rank De Nero and Pacino over this man – with Daniel Day Lewis being his equal. Washington’s performances as Malcolm X and Alonzo Harris completely changed my life. These roles not only altered the way I viewed films, but they ignited my passions for American-Civil rights era politics and deepened my obsessions with villains in not only the movies but all forms of entertainment.
I truly believe that Denzel is a modern day skin changer. He has the ability to completely lose himself within a role to the point where you completely forget you are watching an actor, or in fact you are watching a film. That is a skill that is very hard to come by and that is a skill that, for me, make films magic.