Denzel Washington has played quite a few cops throughout his career, so it’s no surprise the beloved actor is rather fond of them.
In his latest film The Little Things, Washington takes the role of yet another law enforcement officer. This time around Washington is playing a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective who is trying to catch a serial killer.
The film comes at a time when public support for police is on the decline, following centuries of racial violence and brutality that culminated in large Black Lives Matter protests last summer. Calls to defund the police have increased nationwide as coverage of police brutality continues to flood our newsfeed day after day after day after.
But during a press run for his latest film, Washington seemed to have little qualms about his roles in The Bone Collector, Out of Time, Training Day, or other projects where he portrays members of the force. Instead, he emphasized his support for law enforcement and members of the military during an interview with Yahoo Entertainment.
“I have the utmost respect for what they do, for what our soldiers do, [people] that sacrifice their lives,” he said. “I just don’t care for people who put those kind of people down. If it weren’t for them, we would not have the freedom to complain about what they do.”
Washington stars alongside Mr. Robot actor Rami Malek in The Little Things. After this project, he’s set to direct a film titled Journal for Jordan about a soldier who “makes the ultimate sacrifice,” starring Michael B. Jordan.
Washington, who has ironically also played revolutionaries like Malcom X, said he traced his appreciation for cops to a ride-along with an LAPD officer before his role in the 1991 film Ricochet.
“I went out on call with a sergeant,” Washington said. “We got a call of a man outside his house with a rifle that was distraught. We pulled up and did a U-turn past the house and came up short of the house. He told me to sit in the car, which I was gonna do. I wasn’t getting out. He got out. As he got out, another car came screaming up and two young people jumped out screaming. As it turned out, it was their grandfather. This policeman defused the entire situation by just remaining calm.”
“But it showed me in an instant how they can lose their life,” he continued. “He didn’t overreact. He could’ve pulled his gun out and shot the people that came up driving real fast. He could’ve shot the old man that was distraught and a bit confused, I think he was suffering a little bit from dementia. But in an instant it taught me, and I never forgot it, what our law enforcement people have to deal with moment to moment, second to second.”
Just last month, the LAPD received backlash for its part in beating and assaulting peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors.