Toronto Star


JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON IS AN INTERNATIONALLY known actor, but he spent his 20s playing football as a running back before going into the family business like his father, Denzel Washington. He treasures that experience whenever he works today, whether it’s in epic action movies like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet or a low-budget pandemic project like Malcolm & Marie. When it’s time for physically challenging sequences, “I am ready to answer the call,” he said. “I’ve done full jumps on film, running in very dangerous circumstances, because I believe in what we’re doing. “And I can relate to something like that, given my sports background where I’ve played with injuries. I’ve played with broken ribs, concussions. I’ve played for half the season with a torn meniscus. Something interesting that happens when you are faced with elements, when you’re faced with so much discomfort,” he’s discovered, “[is] that you have this linear focus on getting the job done. “I’ll think about watching the Michael Jordan documentary [ The Last Dance], where they call it a flu game when it [really] came to bad pizza. Food poisoning and the game and how he had 38 points, 44 minutes of his biggest moment. He had to fight for the win in a way that he didn’t even anticipate due to his condition. “I mean, people – no matter where you’re from – can relate a lot to Michael Jordan, to be able to relate to that. You’ve got this discomfort that you have to fight through. In his case, ‘I’m gonna do it.’ That’s something I want to explore and can relate to.” Like his legendary dad Denzel, this Washington is aware of what he can offer and what he would like his legacy to be. “There are people whose opinion I hold high, and my objective is to make them very proud. The name that comes to mind is Rochelle Oliver [acting coach and former actress], who taught me at HB Studios. To make her proud – and to always grow and to keep growing. So to me, I have to get better, to expand my knowledge and to grow as an artist. “And, hopefully, continue to do that in front of the camera. Onstage. And maybe some day behind the camera as well.”