Denzel Washington is known for his tremendous on-screen presence. However, there's more to the star than meets the eye. In fact, there are a few things about the six-time Oscar nominee that most don't know, such as how he got his unusual first name and his encounter with a prophet who foresaw his success.
This weekend Denzel stars alongside Mark Wahlberg in his latest movie, "2 Guns." Since Washington is an actor who will always blow you away on screen, you might as well get to know him a bit better off it. Below, check out 25 little-known facts about the star.
1. Washington is named after his father, who was named after the doctor who delivered him, Dr. Denzel. The actor often points out how, although both first names are spelled the same, his father's name is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable (Den-zel), whereas the actor's name is pronounced with the stress on the last (Den-zel).
2. Washington attended Fordham University where he first studied biology, in the hopes of becoming a doctor, and then switched to political science. Feeling indecisive, Washington dropped out of college for a semester and worked as a creative arts director at a YMCA summer camp.
3. After Washington took part in a staff talent show at the camp, he was told he should consider acting. He then returned to Fordham and finished school, graduating with a B.A. in Drama and Journalism.
4. For his 2010 film "The Book of Eli," Washington performed all of his own stunts for his character's hand-to-hand fight sequences.
5. In a 1996 Newsweek cover story about the biology behind the perception of beauty, Washington was cited as a key example in a scientific explanation about why some humans are very good looking.
6. Washington has starred in three remakes: 2004's "The Manchurian Candidate," 2009's "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," and 2004's "Man on Fire."
7. The actor put his journalism degree to use when he spent months on the beat with Washington Post reporters to prepare for his role in 1993's "The Pelican Brief."
8. Almost every summer Washington and his family vacation in Italy.
9. Before Washington played Malcolm X in Spike Lee's 1992 film, the actor portrayed the influential figure in the Off-Broadway production of "When the Chickens Came Home to Roost."
10. In 2010 Washington won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his role in "Fences" alongside Viola Davis, who also won the Tony for Best Actress.
11. Washington is the second black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, following Sidney Poitier as the first black winner in 1963.
12. Washington won his Best Actor Oscar for 2001's "Training Day," the same year that both Poitier received an Honorary Academy Award and Halle Berry won Best Actress as the first black woman ever.
13. Washington is also the first black actor to win two Academy Awards ("Training Day" and "Glory").
14. Newsman Ukee Washington, who co-anchors the news on the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, is the actor's cousin.
15. Washington was made for military uniforms, as he has worn variations of them in at least six of his films.
16. He has also played two soldiers who have suffered traumatic, life-changing experiences while fighting in the 1991 Persian Gulf War: Lt. Col. Nathaniel Serling in "Courage Under Fire" (1996) and Maj. Ben Marco in "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004).
17. Washington was a member of the Boys and Girls Club of America as a youth. Since 1993 he has been a national spokesperson for the organization.
18. Once, when Washington was at his mother's beauty parlor, a woman getting her hair done saw him and wrote down a prophecy that said Denzel would grow up and speak to millions. The woman was known as a prophetess in their church and community.
19. Washington was the original choice for the title character in "Blade" (1998), a part that ended up going to Wesley Snipes.
20. The actor broke his right pinky finger during a childhood basketball accident and never had it set correctly. His finger is still crooked to this day, bent at the bottom knuckle a full 45 degrees outward from his other fingers.
21. For "Courage Under Fire," Washington trained at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California. During his training he qualified on the M1A1 tank and the 120mm gun, participated in battle games, and listened to audiotapes of tank battles in Desert Storm.
22. Washington turned down the role of Cinque in "Amistad" (1997). The role instead went to Djimon Hounsou, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
23. In 2006, Washington donated $1 million to Save Africa's Children.
24. The offer Washington regrets turning down the most is Brad Pitt's Det. David Mills in "Se7en."
25. Washington has only made four comedies, the first being 1981's "Carbon Copy," his first theatrical role. The actor has mentioned that he's always wanted to do a great one.
Sources: IMDb, Fordham University,
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