Denzel Washington Explains Why He ‘Never’ Re-Watches His Old Movies

Denzel Washington in Malcolm X
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The subject of revisiting one’s own work is a somewhat popular discussion to have with entertainers as iconic as Denzel Washington. When The Tragedy of Macbeth actor was asked that very question himself, the answer was a bit surprising, as Washington admitted that he “never” re-watches his older movies. Explaining his reasoning in a recent interview, the legendary Academy Award winner gave a very compelling explanation as to why. 

During the premiere for his Apple Original Film with director Joel Coen, Denzel spoke with Extra about, among other things, being an inspiration to his younger cast mates and staying challenged with the role he picks. Of course, with a resume that includes films like Glory, Malcolm X, Training Day, and Fences, among numerous others, the question of if Denzel Washington revisits past performances seems like a no-brainer. While he doesn’t avoid them altogether, Mr. Washington doesn’t watch his older work for the following reason: 

No, I never look back. I’ll watch a scene if its on TV, but I haven’t watched a film of mine from start to finish… I don’t know when. The last film I watched from start to finish was Macbeth, in preparation for talking about it. But I don’t look back, I look forward.

It’s that sort of professionalism that’s kept Denzel Washington at the top of his game, as his hunger for something new has always shone through his work. 2021 saw him not only tackling Shakespeare on the big screen with The Tragedy of Macbeth, but also gave his fans another intriguing performance in Warner Bros.’ procedural thriller The Little Things. Both are performances that challenge the usual persona of charm and command that Mr. Washington typically exudes; and it’s a safe bet that he’ll pose greater challenges to that image in the years to come. 

That’s not the only aim that drives Washington’s current career trajectory, as seen in the casting for The Tragedy of Macbeth. Looking to help younger Black actors like Corey Hawkins, Moses Ingram, and Sean Patrick Thomas in continuing to blaze trails for representation on screen, Denzel Washington isn’t only challenging himself. He’s also trying to challenge those coming up behind him; so there’s no wondering why his forward looking attitude keeps him from merely revisiting past glories.

Surely there’s moments that this legendary actor likes to revisit from time to time, and the man has inspired plenty of good stories from co-stars past, like Training Day’s Ethan Hawke. That’s only human, but it’s not going to stop Denzel Washington from moving into the future, in the name of his own legacy and to the betterment of others. That combination of modesty and ambition is purely the sort of thing one would expect from a legend like Denzel, and it only makes his next moves all the more exciting to behold.

The Tragedy of Macbeth is currently in limited theatrical release, with potential expansion over the next couple of weeks. Apple TV+ will then become the streaming home of the film, starting on January 14th, 2022. You can also catch Denzel Washington’s latest directorial effort, A Journal For Jordan, which is now showing at a theater near you. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.