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Denzel Washington: “I don’t have actor friends”

Mark Deming
Yahoo! Movies Oscars Blog
February 20, 2013

Some actors make a point of hob-nobbing with famous and high-profile folks in the industry and getting their picture in the tabloids as often as possible. Then there's Denzel Washington.

In an interview with Xan Brooks published on The Guardian.co.uk, Washington announced, "Actually, even within the industry, I don't have any actor friends. My friends are old friends. One's an ex-music guy, the other's a restaurant owner and the other's an ex-pro ballplayer."

When asked why he didn't have many friends among his colleagues, Washington snapped, "Because I don't make friends! Maybe I'm not a butt-kisser, maybe I'm not a schmoozer. I'm not about to go to a party to try to get a job. And then when you have children, the other friends become other parents. We'd coach baseball or basketball. My wife and I were raised right. I don't want movie-star friends. And being African American, there were no big movie stars to hang out with anyway, not when I was starting out, they were just the third guy from the back! For whatever reason, I never befriended any white actors."

(One of Washington's public relations representatives later offer a clarification on the Guardian story, "I sat in on this interview," the rep said. "The part they failed to mention was after he said 'never befriended any white actors' he mentioned 'except,' and then listed Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, etc. They cut the rest of the thought out. The rest is fine though.")

As the interview went on, Washington's seem to clarify that his attitude had less to do with his opinions of his fellow thespians and more with the current culture of celebrity in America. "I'm a working actor!" he declared. "What's a celebrity anyway? Paris Hilton's a celebrity. I'm just a working actor."

While Washington didn't go into deep detail about his private life in the interview, the well-grounded and publicity-shy actor alluded to his religious scruples and the role they play in his life and his work. When asked about his character's plea for help from God in "Flight," Washington replied, "That line, 'God help me,' was very important to me. As an arc as much as anything. You see this butt-naked, coke-sniffing, weed-smoking guy finally get to the point where he can say: 'God help me.' He gets his life back."

Of course, some actors schmooze with other A-listers because they need to promote their career. With Washington up for an Academy Award as Best Actor this Sunday for his role in "Flight," and already having two Oscars on his shelf for "Glory" and "Training Day," one can safely say he can keep a low profile and still have the career he wants.

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