Denzel Washington on ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ and Why He Keeps Coming Back to Broadway


I’m interested in different challenges, and challenging myself and just trying to get better.” – Denzel Washington

If nothing else, Denzel Washington is always doing something interesting. In his latest film, Roman J. Israel, Esq., Washington plays a brilliant lawyer who has difficulty interacting with others in social situations. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Washington spoke about why he decided to take the role, what inspired his characterization, and why he continues to do stints on Broadway.

Washington drew some inspiration from an acquaintance who had legal experience. He says, “There’s a guy I know, and I won’t say who he is, but his son is on the spectrum, and he actually worked for a law firm. He knew all of the laws and everything, so I did a lot of research on Asperger’s, and the spectrum, and went in that direction.”

What attracted Washington to the role was how different it was from anything he has done before. He continues, “Fundamentally, it was just something I hadn’t done before, and (was) so different than the character in Fences. It was the right script with the right writer and director at the right time, and it was a wonderful journey just discovering the character.”

While many big-name actors still challenge themselves by doing Broadway from time to time, Washington seems like he is almost a regular on the Great White Way since playing Brutus in the 2005 production of Julius Caesar. He’s set to return in the 2018 production of The Iceman Cometh. As for why Washington keeps coming back, he says, “I think a part of it is that I do three things. I don’t just act in movies…I keep trying to get better. I’m just growing as an actor, and you come to a place in life where you go, ‘Well, you know, I don’t know how many days I got left, but there’s only so many roles.’ I’m interested in different challenges, and challenging myself and just trying to get better.”

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