Denzel Washington quotes and sayings
December 28, 1954
Martin Scorsese probably could have directed Schindler's List and Steven Spielberg probably could have directed Goodfellas. But it's as much to do with the difference in culture as it is with race.
I like Training Day very much. Denzel Washington's performance was spectacular. I also like The Godfatherand Kill Bill. I love Tarantino's mind and I believe that Kill Bill describes very well his mind and thoughts.
We all are doing the best we can. I would like to say that I'm a walking poster board for feminism and women's liberation, but there are things that I do in my life that deeply, deeply fall short of being a statement for being a strong woman. I am flawed as much as anyone else.
I'm from around Tennessee. I ran away when I was 12 years old and I ain't never looked back.
We had a guy, a gentlemen by the name of Mr. Greenleaf who lived behind the house we were shooting Fences, and he was like a part of the movie.He would come downstairs, and he couldn't hear well to say, "Ya'll want some coffee?".
I'm selfish, I think. I think an artist has to be. I'm not worried about what people think. I play the parts that I find interesting. It'd bother me more to be just pigeonholed into doing what people think is ethical or that's boring to me. I don't pick parts with that in mind, I just find interesting stories. If it's interesting to me, then I do it.
That's what I tell young actors. "You don't have to compromise. Go do some theater and wait for an appropriate role.".
When you don't understand something, you label it and condemn it" - Danny Glover, "The Fundamental Things.
I'm a positive person, so I don't get bogged down with it. If you're expecting that, if you wall in that, if you practice that, then you'll attract what you fear.
A part of me still says, 'Maybe, Denzel, you're supposed to preach. Maybe you're still compromising.' I've had an opportunity to play great men and, through their words, to preach. I take what talent I've been given seriously, and I want to use it for good.
I remember my father telling me that just like Troy, he could get me in with the water department where he worked in New York. He talked about how he could get me on the job, and if I stayed 25 years, I could probably work my way up to be a supervisor and how it was a good union and all of the benefits and that I was going to make $20,000 in 50 years or whatever it was. He couldn't see that far.
It was never my dream to be famous. I didn't start acting to be a movie star. I started in the theater and my desire was to get better at my craft. It's still my desire. I don't consider myself a movie star, nor do I really have the desire to be one. I'm just an entertainer... An actor who works hard at his craft. Whatever labels people give me, that's not really me or part of my process.
I'm not afraid to upset people. But I am not as upset because I understand what I'm up against.
I know, as an actor, I don't like sharing everything with the director. And it's fine if they don't with me.
Just stick with your kids. There's no set of rules on how to be a parent. No handbook. Just hang around your kids and ask them a lot of questions. You have to stay involved in your children's lives and monitor everything they're doing whether they like it or not. You're not in the job of making them like it. You're there to protect them in a world that can be troubling.
When you look in one direction where Troy's chair was, you could see out through the yard across the street, there was an old cork bar advertisement for five cents. We wanted it to feel like this was real life in Fences and that it extended blocks and blocks.
Money doesn't buy happiness. Some people say it's a heck of a down payment, though.
I don't look back, no. Maybe when I'm older; people say, 'What's your favorite film?' I say, 'My next one.' I'm not interested in sitting around; I just don't, never have.
A sociopath will do anything to win. Anything.
I called Scott Rudin, and I told him I wanted to do the play Fences, so that's how the ball got rolling. I never said, "I'll do the play, and the next year I'll do the film, I just wanted to do the play.".
Got to be who you are in this world, no matter what.
It just happened that we did Fences seven years ago on Broadway. Scott Rudin brought me August Wilson's original screenplay for it, and I realized I hadn't read the play. So I read it. Then I realized that Troy was 53 - and I was 55 at the time. I realized I better hurry up! I might be too old!
I try not to think about that getting Oscar ahead of time. You just try to do the best work you can, and then you get the movie out there, and we've been hearing good things. But you never know, you don't want to get too high, and you don't want to get too low.
I worked with Sidney Lumet years ago, and we had a long rehearsal process, and he would tape out the entire set on the stage, so I stole that from him.
Russel Crowe has been through a lot and had a lot of success. No one knew who he was when I worked with him 12 years ago. He's just come off a great film in Australia- Romper Stomper - and so it was good to see him again. Obviously, I'd seen him since.
I'll be working with Ridley's Scott brother, Tony, again, someone who needless to say we've had a great amount of success together. I trust him - so I won't have to think about it or I'll try not to.
Every punch that's thrown is mine. Every punch that's caught, I catch.
The greatest lesson I've learned in life is "Who knows what's good or bad?" Things come along that you really want, and they turn out to be the worst thing in the world. And some of the worst tragedies that you can conceive turn out to be the best things, the exact medicine you need in that moment.
You have to grab moments when they happen. I like to improvise and ad lib.
My mother used to tell me: "You gotta smile more. Because if you don't smile, the way you look at people, they'll think you're mad at them.".
I didn't want to audition the kids so much; I just wanted to talk to them because I like seeing how they are because their mothers usually mess them up with practice. So, I'd rather talk to them and see how they respond. I just throw things at them and see how they can hit the ball back, and Saniyya Sidney was good.
I'm very proud to be black, but black is not all I am. That's my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it's not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question.
I'm not interested in being a celebrity; I'm interested in being a better actor and a better director.
Don't aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.
The secret to a happy marriage? Do whatever your wife tells you. 'Yes, dear.' And breathe.
Success? I don't know what that word means. I'm happy. But success, that goes back to what in somebody's eyes success means. For me, success is inner peace. That's a good day for me.
If you have an enemy, then learn and know your enemy, don't just be mad at him or her.
I get nervous when a picture goes beyond two hours.
I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.
One good thing about acting in film is that it's good therapy.
I never really had the classic struggle. I had faith.
I'm older and wiser. So and now having segued into filmmaking I'm looking at Ridley Scott and what he does in an entirely different way and I have respect for what he does and how he composes shots. So that was what was completely fascinating.
We live in a time when people give up too easy.
It's important for us to tell our stories.
I never tell anyone what to take away from a movie.
The poorest people are the sweetest people.
The strongest, toughest men all have compassion. They're not heartless and cold. You have to be man enough to have compassion - to care about people and about your children" - John Singleton "Oh Man, I've Become My Father.
In my humble opinion, in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.
Put God first in everything you do ... Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It's a gift ... I didn't always stick with Him, but He stuck with me.
Michelle Pfeiffer hasn't been finding a lot of work recently because she doesn't like what a woman her age is offered. That's a real double standard. You get Sean Connery, who gets older and older, still playing opposite young ladies, but it doesn't work the other way around.
I still have my unemployment books and I remember when I worked for the sanitation department and the post office.
You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That's a part of it.
I had the kid on "Fences" who understudied me so I could stand back and think about shots so he had to learn the blocking and everything. I'd come in early sometimes, and they 'd be in there rehearsing and working on their stuff. I didn't want them to feel like, "Oh these are people who can't be touched." We're all working actors; we're all trying to get better.
I'm a parent. I think we're responsible for the problems that young people have. I believe that. I don't blame them for any of it. I blame us for what we haven't done as mothers and fathers, not sticking together as a unit.
My faith helps me understand that circumstances don't dictate my happiness, my inner peace.
I'm not a film buff. I don't watch a lot of movies.
Dreams without goals, are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment.
When people protest and are upset with a movie, it becomes a big hit. They hated Passion of The Christ, it worked out pretty well for the box office. So let's get that going.
Meryl and Katharine Hepburn are probably the two greatest actresses of this and the last century.
Thank God in advance for what's already yours.
What we did shooting "Fences" was we got young students from Carnegie Mellon, the acting and theater students, and we had them as our understudies. I told them, "You have to be off book and be ready. If Viola Davis has to leave you have to jump in.".
There is nothing good or bad, except by comparison - Effort is Everything by Bud Selig.
I even asked Saniyya Sidney why she wanted to be an actor and she said, "I'm serious about this. These other little kids they want to play, and I don't have time for that.".
In any profession it gets to be a grind.
My father could see as far as he could see and my mother wanted us to go to college so it was a very real part of my life.
If you don't trust the pilot, don't go.
I think a role model is a mentor - someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them.
When you trust the director you want to trust his or her choices. I don't want to say, 'No, I don't like this girl or that guy," when the director really loves them. No, you want to go with what the director likes.
That's where you can find things and modulate your performance and give the other actors something fresh to respond to. We've probably all worked with actors who when it's suddenly your close up, they get sleepy. I don't like that. It's selfish acting, and I won't tolerate it.
I and haven't been unemployed for 20 years. I'm an exception to the rule.
I think we're fascinated by gangsters and that whole lifestyle and crossing the line. We get sort of stuck in our normal lives, if you will, and you want to be bigger than life and I think people somehow live through these sorts of characters.
I read a ton of scripts. I read a lot of scripts, and you read one, and first of all, you felt like you read it in 14 minutes, because you're turning the pages so fast you can't wait to see what's going to happen.
I try to encourage actors to work harder off screen because that's where you find things.
So the desire you have, that itch that you have to be whatever it is you want to be ... that itch, that desire for good is God's proof to you sent already to indicate that it's yours. You already have it. Claim it.
We'll all retire from life at some point. The great thing about acting is you don't necessarily have to retire.
Any good piece of material like Shakespeare ought to be open to reinterpretation.
We rehearsed for two weeks in "Fences", and we taped out the whole house in the front, and the rooms, and we stood it up like a play. We tried to get off book and gave people small props.
You don't have to kill somebody to play a murderer. You have to read the script and interpret the character.
Talent comes from God. If you have been given some, then value it, cultivate it, work and develop it.
I think that we all at some point are in search of something - a higher power, whatever you want to call it, the meaning of life. I know I was, especially at even my son's age in my 20s, and dabbling in Eastern philosophies and yoga and Buddhism and Christianity and Islam. I kind of touched them all, you know, just trying to figure out the meaning of life or if nothing else, figure myself out.
I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me - spiritually and financially.
I honestly believe, and I've said it many times, that the universal stems from the specific and I can't walk around with a performance and ask everyone how they feel about it, but if noble is an opinion that people have I'll accept that. I've been asked many times why I don't play bad guys, or heavies, and I would do it, absolutely, in a second, just haven't been offered any so... if anybody has a script out there tonight I'm more than willing.
After directing the first film it feels kind of tricky being back to being in front of the camera, because I've always got one eye over there, kind of thinking of what they are doing, and how the shot is being composed. I think it takes a couple of films to just get back to just being an actor.
I am not going to bury my son! My son is going to bury me!
In 2009, Scott Rudin sent me August's Wilson original screenplay Fences and asked me what I wanted to do with it. He wanted to know if I wanted to act in it, direct it or produce it. I said, "Well, let me read it first.".
In the movie I realized, I had the luxury of getting to see how the other person feels.
Julie Anne Peters
Roy Jones Jr.
Robert W. Service
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