Watch: Denzel Washington Explains Why He Passed on a Role Early in His Career

Denzel Washington is considered one of the finest actors of his generation and the mile-long list of awards he has earned are a testament to that. However, by his own admission it might have gone completely different if he hadn’t made a key decision not to do a particular film.

In 1986, Washington was up for the lead role in a movie that he jokingly refers to “The N*gga They Couldn’t Kill” about a rapist who survives being electrocuted in the electric chair and a subsequent hanging. Washington explains that after having a conversation with Sidney Poitier he passed on the role based on how it could steer his career.

Here, Washington explains why he turned down the role — and how it worked out for the best.