Denzel Washington is easily one of the best actors of the past few decades. His style is dynamic and sophisticated, and he has an unparalleled ability to lend great empathy and nuance to his characters, no matter how deranged they may be (Training Day, anyone?) In other words, Washington is the kind of actor who makes it look easy. He’s effortlessly stealing scenes on the big screen—and, at least in the case of Cry Freedom, entire movies—with his charisma and obvious talent since the 90s, but it can be easy to forget that Washington’s career has been long and varied. His first serious acting gig was as Dr. Phillip Chandler on St. Elsewhere, a groundbreaking hospital drama in the 80s, becoming one of the few African American actors to star in the show. When St. Elsewhere came to an end in 1988, Washington made his move on to the big screen, and the rest is history.
Washington has also expressed an interest and talent for the stage, and even won a Tony award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his role in an adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences in 2010 (Washington later directed the Oscar nominated movie adaptation of the same play.) If you add that Tony to his Oscars (one for Best Supporting Actor in Glory and one for Best Actor in Malcolm X) and his three Golden Globe awards, the man is halfway to a damn EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). He has actually already been nominated for an Emmy and Grammy; the former was for producing two documentaries Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks and Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, and the latter for lending his voice to an audiobook of John Henry: Rabbit Ears in 1996. Your fave could NEVER.
In an attempt to celebrate Denzel Washington’s stunning film career, we’ve rounded up his ten best performances in one handy list. Take a day off and make it a Denzel marathon. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.