‘I’m A God-Fearing Man’: Denzel Washington Explains His Christian Beliefs To New York Times, Dismisses Hollywood Focus On Racial Diversity
In an interview with The New York Times to promote his latest film, “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Denzel Washington opened up about his Christian faith.
He told interviewer Maureen Dowd that before his grandmother died, he would “attempt to honor her and God by living the rest of my days in a way that would make her proud.” That, he explained, is what his work is all about now.
Washington revealed he doesn’t look at his career from an earthly perspective, saying of his faith, “If you don’t have a spiritual anchor you’ll be easily blown by the wind and you’ll be led to depression.” Later, when Dowd asked if he’d any concerns about the supposed “curse” that productions of Macbeth are alleged to suffer, the two-time Oscar winner brushed the idea off.
“I’m a God-fearing man,” he said. “I try not to worry. Fear is contaminated faith.”
At one point during their conversation, Washington recommended that Dowd read Scripture. “Have you read the Bible?” he asked her, adding, “Start with the New Testament, because the Old Testament is harder. You get caught up in the who-begot-who-begot-who thing.” At another point, he suggested she try The Daily Word, an inspirational Christian app.
All of it led Dowd to comment that Washington sounds like the pastor his late father was.
Corey Hawkins, Washington’s young co-star in “Macbeth” echoed Dowd’s observation that Washington tends to act as a spiritual leader to those around him, revealing that he sometimes prayed with Mr. Washington on the set.
“Sometimes we get talking and you see the preacher in him,” the 33-year-old Hawkins said. “He’s just a natural-born charismatic leader who is not afraid to talk about his own faults or misgivings or shortcomings.”
Following the Bible’s admonition to have “nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies,” Washington also dismissed Dowd’s focus on racial representation in the entertainment business. When she asked him if he thinks Hollywood has become more diverse after the #OscarsSoWhite movement, he responded, “Hollywood is a street. I live in Los Angeles. I don’t live in Hollywood. I don’t know what Hollywood thinks. It’s not like it’s a bunch of people who get together on Tuesdays.”
Dowd noted that Washington has long had a habit of deflecting the media’s attempts to get him to claim that he’s had to overcome bigotry to achieve success. She pointed out that while director Spike Lee was angry when the “Malcolm X” actor lost the Best Actor Oscar to Al Pacino, and implied it was due to skin color, Washington was gracious.
The 63-year-old exemplified that same gracious approach to societal divides by decrying the “Twitter-tweet-meme-mean world that we’ve created” that has led to online cancel mobs. Reflecting the biblical theology he espouses, he argued that most of our problems stem from sin within rather than without:
“The enemy is the inner me. The Bible says in the last days — I don’t know if it’s the last days, it’s not my place to know — but it says we’ll be lovers of ourselves. The No. 1 photograph today is a selfie, ‘Oh, me at the protest.’ ‘Me with the fire.’ ‘Follow me.’ ‘Listen to me.’
“We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed. What is the long or short-term effect of too much information? It’s going fast and it can be manipulated obviously in a myriad of ways. And people are led like sheep to slaughter.”
Washington concluded, “In heaven, there are going to be two lines, the long line and the short line, and I’m interested in being in the short line.”
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