Denzel Washington is one of the best actors of our time, and one of the most famous men in the world, just don’t tell him that. The 57-year old two-time Academy Award winner sat down with Michael Hainey for the annual StylePlaybook to talk about his influences and why he’s not a celebrity.
Is there an actor who has influenced you? There’s a scene in The Godfather II. De Niro’s in a theater. And he’s looking back. It’s just a look. I don’t think I’ve ever imitated another actor, but there’s nothing wrong with learning from them.
Are there any roles you’ve turned down that you regret? Seven and Michael Clayton. With Clayton, it was the best material I had read in a long time, but I was nervous about a first-time director, and I was wrong. It happens. (OMG can you imagine Denzel and Brad together in a movie!)
In some ways, you’re a cipher. There’s not much you put out there. But that’s not my job to put stuff out there. Sidney Poitier told me this years ago: “If they see you for free all week, they won’t pay to see you on the weekend, because they feel like they’ve seen you. If you walk by the magazine section in the supermarket and they’ve known you all their life, there’s no mystery. They can’t take the ride.” My professional work is being a better actor. I don’t know how to be a celebrity.
When the Denzel biopic is made, what would an actor need to have in his performance to make you say, “He got me”? That suggests I know what it is, and I don’t want to know what it is. That’s part of the mystery. It is what it is. I don’t go, “I gotta make sure I put some of that Denzel Washington-ism in the movie.” I don’t want tricks. I don’t want to lose my mojo.
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.
What did you feel when Whitney died? Whitney was my girl, and she had done so well in recovery. And that is the toughest part about addiction.
Were you friends still? Not “talk every month” friends, but I talked to her from time to time. And that was a monster drug that got ahold of her, it was a mean one. You can’t go back to that one. Nobody beats that. I look at people—and I don’t think I’m speaking out of line—Sam Jackson, I’ve known for thirty-some-odd years, he was down at the bottom. And he came all the way back. And when he cleaned up, he never looked back. But he can’t have that beer, because it might lead to the tough thing.
Whitney was such a sweet, sweet girl and really just a humble girl. You know, they made her this thing. She had a voice, obviously, but they packaged her into this whole whatever, but she was really just this humble, sweet girl. Me and Lenny [Kravitz], we were talking about her yesterday, and it’s more of an example to me or the rest of us to keep it together. I was listening to her song “I Look to You.” It’s prophetic. Maybe I’m speaking out of line. Maybe she thought she could have one. And then the next thing you know, her body was betraying her. She didn’t know that her body was aging quickly. She couldn’t take it. Your body can only take so much. Some people survive [Hollywood and fame], and some people don’t.
You can read the rest of the interview with this GQMF when the issue hits newsstands September 25th.
It wasn’t the most exciting first time out for the singers, but a couple “brought it” while others let their nerves get the best of them. AI celebrated it’s 400th show by having the guys sang some of Stevie Wonder‘s greatest hits, while the girls had to tackle the songs of Whitney Houston. It almost seemed unfair, no? The singers also got help from Jimmy Iovine and this week’s mentor Mary J. Blige, who seemed really into her role for the show. So, let’s get to the performances!
Joshua Ledet was up first with Stevie’s “I Wish.” MJB helped Josh out a bit in the sessions by bringing in pianist Eric Hudson, who also has a gospel background. On stage, you could Josh was really into the song and I think he did a pretty good job with it. The judges loved it too, Randy was glad he didn’t pick a ballad for his first time out. Josh will definitely be safe this week.
Elise Testone was the first girl to go. She initially picked “The Greatest Love of All” but Jimmy didn’t think that was the right song for her so he told her to sing “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Bad move on Jimmy’s part. This totally threw Elise off and she had to struggle to learn the song and then sing it the way she wanted to. The judges noticed and she then had to explain herself without blaming Iovine for a so-so performance. She also seemed a bit uncomfortable on stage, maybe IYBT was just too upbeat for her.
Jermaine Jones went with “Knocks Me Off My Feet.” This was a perfect choice for his voice, MJB was definitely feeling him. Jermaine was bought back into the competition so I feel like he has to prove himself even more. He did a good job with this, but the judges wanted more emotion. Jennifer told him to “sing to someone,” even if he has to her. The voice is there, but he needs to work on bringing out the emotion. Also, I know it’s only the first round of the competition but can we get them some better clothes please? What was the jacket Jermaine was wearing? Were the wardrobe people so used to having to dress little Ken doll Ryan that they don’t know what to do with people over 5 feet 5 inches tall?
Speaking of tall, Erika Van Pelt sang Whitney’s “I Believe In You And Me.” Much like you, I’m tired of having this song screamed at me every other commercial break by Idol alum Jennifer Hudson. Jimmy said that if she went with the “literal version” of this song then she could be in trouble? What the hell did that mean? MJB on the other hand loved the tone of her voice and I that is what saved the song from being completely boring for me. The judges thought she played it too safe though. Her notes could have been bigger, but I think she’s safe for now.
Colton Dixon had one of the better performances of the night with “Lately.” He kind of didn’t know what to do with the song, so Jimmy and Mary had him sing one of his originals to figure out what he wanted to do with it. For some reason, Colton just isn’t doing it for me, but his rocker version of Lately was a hit with the audience and the judges.
Shannon Magrane tried “I Have Nothing,” and I do mean tried. In fact, she could help herself out a lot by not trying so hard with these big ballads. I know she heard them, but she didn’t quite get the message when Mary told her to stop running to the huge part of the song and just sing it. She started off okay, on stage but again tried too hard to hit the big note in the song. Sadly she was the “worst” of the night, but hey she tried.
Deandre Brackensick and his hair chose “Master Blaster (Jammin)” and I’m glad he did. It seems like the guys were willing to take a chance with their song selections more than the girls. After we got a look at his crying face, he rocked the stage and got the crowd moving. I do love Deandre’s falsetto, but I liked that he didn’t use it that much here. Steven compared him to a Naima, the chick with the dreads from last season, and said that he loved the “patois” he put on during the song.
Skylar Laine sang “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” She confessed that she didn’t grow up listening to Whitney, whhaaaaa, but she impressed both Jimmy and Mary and totally caught me off guard. I do love a lot of Country performers, but there is something about her voice that annoys me a bit. It’s too…twangy. Here though, she shined by turning this classic into a cute little Country ballad and hit her notes perfectly. So good job Skylar, I’m not a fan yet, but I’m not rooting for you to leave, either.
Heejun Han went with All is Fair In Love.” MJB was shocked that his voice came out of an Asian guy named Heejun. Although I love Heejun and his dry sense of humor, his performance was a little boring. It was too breathy at times and even if no one else will say it, he has some pronunciation problems. The judges like it though. Randy said that “it wasn’t perfect, but it was really good.” Gotta agree dawg.
Hollie Cavanaugh chose “All The Man That I Need.” I thought she did just okay with this. It started off a bit shaky but she always hits her notes perfectly. The consensus with Hollie is that even though she does have this huge voice, there’s not a lot of emotion behind it. Not to sound too Jennifer here, but she needs to work on that and try to make us feel what she’s singing.
Jeremy Rosado, who I had kind of forgotten about, sorry, sang “Ribbon In The Sky.” This seemed like the most likely choice for him, but I wish he would have went with something like “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” or even “For Once In My Life.” He has the range for those songs and it would have been something a bit different from him. While he did a good version of RITS, it just wasn’t all that exciting. Randy didn’t think it was his best performance, and I have to agree.
Well, someone had to do it. Jessica Sanchez chose “I Will Always Love You” to sing. We could have really done without hearing this again. Especially after Whitney’s funeral, and after JHud performed it at the Grammys. I would have rather she done “I Wanna To Dance With Somebody” or hell what about “How Will I Know” or “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay.” I can say that the silent part of the song still gives me chills, and Jessica did do it justice. She got a standing ovation from the judges and the crowd. Steven told her she made 40 million people cry with her performance. Do that many people still watch AI? Where did Steven get that number from?
Last up was Phil Phillips with “Superstition.” Iovine encouraged him to end the song differently, which didn’t make much of a difference really, but Phil rocked it. I would like to see him perform without the guitar, I don’t think it adds much when he is already being backed by two other guitar players. His Dave Matthews like dancing is a little goofy, but I expect Phil to be in the competition for awhile, so I’ll get used to it.
The show surprisingly flew by pretty quick. Ryan had the nerve to ask the judges who they thought were two of the best, and which two were the worst. Oh Idol, keep coming up with ways to humiliate your contestants! Even though she (lied) and said the girls had the best performances, Jennifer knew the boys killed it. Results show up tonight. I expect to see Shannon in the Bottom 3 with Jermaine and maybe Jeremy.
I loveThe Brit Awards. I’m a Brit pop girl through and through. Back in the 80’s the line was drawn deeply: Either you swooned brightly to Duran Duran, Human League, David Bowie, EurythmicsOR you dorked around to finger down the throat gaggingHuey Lewis and the News and ZZ Top with a bottle of Bartles andJaymesStrawberry DaiquiriWine Coolers. Ack. J’knowt’mayne?
The 2012Brit Awards have yet to happen here in the States (wait, what? Eight hour time difference!), but of course we have the full list of winners for you!
British Male Solo Artist Ed Sheeran James Blake James Morrison Noel Gallagher High Flying Birds Professor Green
British Female Solo Artist Adele Florence and the Machine Jessie J Kate Bush Laura Marling
British Breakthrough Act (Top 5 selected by Voting Academy, category promoted by Radio 1) Anna Calvi Ed Sheeran Emeli Sande Jessie J The Vaccines
British Group (Top 5 selected by Voting Academy, promoted by Radio 2) Arctic Monkeys Chase & Status Coldplay Elbow Kasabian
British Single (Top 10 Single – based on commercial radio airplay and sales on calendar year) Adele – Someone Like You Ed Sheeran – A Team Example – Changed the Way You Kiss Me Jessie J featuring VOB – Price Tag JLS featuring Dev – She Makes Me Wanna Military Wives/Gareth Malone – Wherever You Are Olly Murs featuring Rizzle Kicks – Heart Skips A Beat One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful Pixie Lott – All About Tonight The Wanted – Glad you Came?
Mastercard British Album of the Year (Sponsored by ITV Daybreak and The Sun’s Bizaare column)
Adele – 21 Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto Ed Sheeran – +, Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials P J Harvey – Let England Shake
International Male Solo Artist Aloe Blacc Bon Iver Bruno Mars David Guetta Ryan Adams
International Female Solo Artist Beyonce Bjork Feist Lady Gaga Rihanna
International Group Fleet Foxes Foo Fighters Jay-Z and Kanye West Lady Antebellum Maroon 5
International Breakthrough Act Aloe Blacc Bon Iver Foster The People Lana Del Rey Nicki Minaj
British Producer Paul Epworth Flood Ethan Johns
Outstanding Contribution Award – Blur
Critics Choice Award – Emeli Sande
I was hoping for a bit more of a tribute for Amy Winehouse, but there was at least this:
Of course a lovely tribute was given to Whitney Houston.
All in all, Adele had another very successful night! (Poor Jessie J. having to go up against her this year, though.)