Why Denzel Washington Deserves His Oscar Nomination, According To His Roman J. Israel Director

Denzel Washington Roman J Israel

Some actors are known for playing certain types of roles. Dwayne Johnson plays musclebound badasses, Vince Vaughn portrays fast-talking con men with funny streaks, and Denzel Washington has made a career out of bringing dominant and commanding presences to his roles. One of the few times that he didn't play a role like that came in Dan Gilroy's Roman J. Israel Esq., and in a recent interview with CinemaBlend, Gilroy explained that this is one of the critical reasons why Washington earned his 2018 Best Actor nomination. Gilroy elaborated:

I believe, and I believe he believes as well, It's the most transformative performance of his career in the sense that he is playing something at this point in his career that he's never played before remotely a character like this. He has to literally transform himself, not just physically, but internally as well, to become something which he has never been before. And he does something which, to me, is the hallmark of all great performances, which is very quickly you forget that you're watching a movie star and you just feel like you're watching a character. And I think, I think Denzel does that to a very high degree in this film. And really, he's transformed himself in a very organic, really authentic way. And I think that's what he's being recognized for.

It's no secret that Denzel Washington has played a variety of different roles over the years in films like Crimson Tide, Remember the Titans, and Fences. All of these movies required different characters with different emotional cores, but each one possesses a similarly dominant and powerful presence that carries over from film to film. With Roman J. Israel Esq., Dan Gilroy asserts that Denzel Washington finally dove into a far more timid and less self-assured character than we have ever seen from him before.

Part of that transformation has to do with the type of character that Roman is, but another layer involves that physical transformation that Denzel Washington committed himself to for playing Roman. Not only did the 63-year-old actor gain a significant amount of weight for the film, but he also had a dental cap at the front of his mouth removed to give Roman his signature gap between his teeth. Put all that together, and this really is Denzel like we've never seen him before.

Dan Gilroy's Roman J. Israel Esq. is now available on Digital HD and Blu-ray. If you haven't seen Denzel Washington's transformative performance in the movie, then make sure to pick up a copy, read CinemaBlend's in-depth review of the film, and check the film out for yourself!

As for the Oscars, Denzel Washington's fans will get a chance to watch him duke it out against similar heavy-hitters like Phantom Thread's Daniel Day-Lewis and Darkest Hours' Gary Oldman when The Academy Awards airs on Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.