Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992): Denzel Washington’s iconic portrayal of Malcolm X brought the civil rights leader to life in a powerful way. Washington convincingly brought out the range of emotions and complexities of his character, from an early life of violence and crime to his journey of self-discovery and his political rise.
2. Frank Lucas in American Gangster (2007): Washington’s portrayal of drug kingpin Frank Lucas was one of his most impressive character transformations. Washington turns the ruthless gangster into a complex character with a combination of fearlessness, intelligence and charm.
3. Rubin Carter in The Hurricane (1999): Washington earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Rubin Carter, a middleweight boxer wrongfully convicted of murder. In the film, Washington brings Carter’s story to life through his inspiring performance and captivating charisma.
4. Robert McCall in The Equalizer (2014): Washington takes on the role of a retired CIA agent who uses his skills to help the disadvantaged in this action-packed thriller. Washington’s McCall is a strong and determined character, who is willing to go to extreme lengths in order to help those in need.
5. Herman Boone in Remember the Titans (2000): Washington stars as Herman Boone, the first African-American head coach of a high school football team in Virginia. Boone is a complex character – tough but fair, inspiring and yet demanding – and Washington portrays him with a combination of strength and warmth.
In a speech in 2016, he called for an end to racism and discrimination and urged people to show respect to all individuals. He has also spoken out in support of marriage equality and called for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Washington is also a strong supporter of foreign policy. In a speech in 2017, he spoke out in favor of the Iran nuclear deal and argued for diplomatic solutions to international conflicts. He has also spoken out in support of the Paris Climate Agreement and called for nations to take action to address climate change.