Denzel Washington is not just one of the most prominent African American actors in the world, he’s one of the most prominent actors in the world, period. The actor, director, and producer has amassed a plethora of awards, including two Academy Awards, and has been a massive box office draw throughout his career. Washington has been a household name in the African-American community for years, known for his suave and debonair demeanor, and has also been labeled a “sex symbol” many times. Recent news has come out about the esteemed actor showing that in a previous role, he declined romantic scenes with a very prominent actress, and he has an interesting reason for it.
The “Training Day” actor talked with “Independent UK” and they discussed him being labeled “the thinking woman’s sex symbol”. Washington responded by saying “Would I have got this far if I had been pig ugly?” after a fit of laughter, and then continued with “this sex symbol thing is a bit hard for me to figure out. You know, when I was at high school, I only had one girlfriend. No one wanted to go out with me.”
The actor then went on to say that he’s pretty low-key. “I don’t do Hollywood things at all. The last premiere I’ve gone to that was not my own was when Julia Roberts [his co-star in The Pelican Brief] asked us to see “Erin Brockovich”. I went because she’s my friend.”
His role in the 1993 thriller “The Pelican Brief” with co-star and friend Julia Roberts is what’s being brought to light now 27 years later. The film, based on the John Grisham novel of the same name, had Washington cast as investigative journalist Gray Grantham, working alongside Roberts’ character (Darby Shaw) as they look into assassinations of two Supreme Court justices, but fans of the novel always questioned why the two never shared a romantic kissing scene in the film, seeing as though the characters became lovers in the book.
Well, the “Pretty Woman” star had an interview with Newsweek in 2002 where she refuted claims that she was the reason for the decision. Roberts revealed she personally requested Washington to be cast as her co-star. “I had suggested him from the beginning, and he did amazing things with a character that didn’t look like much on paper. What more could you want?” She went on to admit that she indeed wanted to have a love scene with the actor, saying “I have taken so much s**t over the years about not kissing Denzel in that film. Don’t I have a pulse? Of course I wanted to kiss Denzel. It was his idea to take the damn scenes out.”
The reason that the love scene between the two was removed it seems, is because Washington himself wanted to remain true to his fanbase and felt the interracial love scene would harm his career. During a test screening for the 1989 film The Mighty Quinn, bad reactions were received due to the film featuring a kissing scene with actress Mimi Rogers. Washington didn’t want to anger his core base who’s supported his career thus far, and said in an interview with Newsweek, “Black women are not often seen as objects of desire on film. They have always been my core audience.”
The two can be seen together again as they have reunited to star in the upcoming Netflix drama “Leave The World Behind”.