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“I found my way to theater,” Denzel Washington told The Hollywood Reporter during the Director Oscar Roundtable. “I started with Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones. First role. Second role was Othello. I really didn’t see anybody who looked like me, so I didn’t aspire to act in movies.”
The two-time Oscar winner (Glory, Training Day) was shown August Wilson’s screenplay version of Fences seven years ago. “I read it, and I thought it needed work, quite frankly. So I said, ‘Man, I haven’t read the play.’ So I read the play. And it said, ‘Troy Maxson, 53 years old.’ Well, I saw James Earl Jones do it in the ‘80s, so I always thought I was too young. When I saw 53, I was 55, I’m like, ‘I better hurry up.’ So I call Scott Rudin and I said, ‘I want to do the play.'” Washington went on to win the Tony Award for best actor in a play for the role.
More roundtables featuring actresses, actors, screenwriters, songwriters, documentarians, composers and producers will continue throughout February in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ starting Jan. 15 on Sundance TV, and look for clips at THR.com/topic/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.
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