Denzel Washington in The Little Things

Over a career spanning four decades, Oscar winner Denzel Washington has been given memorable performances in films such as Glory, Training Day, Malcolm X and Fences just to name a few. Those performances have inspired many actors who have come after him. The Little Things co-stars Rami Malek and Jared Leto have sung Washington's praises during their press run. Recently the two-time Oscar winner paid tribute to them as well as the late Chadwick Boseman and Hollywood’s current generation of actors.

Denzel Washington has been regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time. The two-time Oscar winner was even named “The Greatest Actor of the 21st Century,” which lead his son John David Washington to sing his praises. Washington was interviewed by USA Today to promote his film The Little Things. Sharing the screen with fellow Oscar winners Jared Leto and Rami Malek, the actor took a moment to highlight them as well as late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

There’s a whole crop of these younger actors, and it's fascinating to watch them coming up behind me. Unfortunately, we lost one with Chad Boseman (who died of colon cancer last year). But Jared is one, obviously, and Rami is doing great work. It’s inspiring and like a wake-up call. It’s like, I have to get my act together here. These guys ain’t playing.

Given his status within the acting community, Denzel Washington stating he needed to step his game up spoke volumes to those actors’ skills. Washington’s words about Chadwick Boseman were even more poignant given he served as a producer on Boseman’s last film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Denzel Washington’s relationship with Chadwick Boseman goes back to the late actor’s college years. Boseman revealed in an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that his acting teacher Phylicia Rashad was able to secure a benefactor to fund his studies at the University of Oxford. The benefactor turned out to be Washington. When Boseman revealed the fact to the legendary actor, he jokingly responded that the Black Panther star owed him money. But Washington’s appreciation for the late actor's skills was highlighted in a documentary on the making of Ma Rainey.

Denzel Washington’s praise for Boseman, Jared Leto and Rami Malek come at a moment where Hollywood is facing pushback for elevating very few Black actors. Late last year, The Trial of the Chicago 7’s Yahya Abdul Mateen II pointed out Hollywood’s reliance on established actors such as Washington while not properly pushing young Black actors into the A-list. But there have been improvements with the rise of Mateen, Michael B. Jordan, Aldis Hodge, John David Washington and more in recent years.

Denzel Washington’s praise for Chadwick Boseman and Hollywood’s current generation of actors is refreshing given his status in Hollywood. Washington seems open to welcoming more great actors into the big tent while acknowledging the late Boseman’s brilliant yet short career. You can check on Washington alongside Jared Leto and Rami Malek in The Little Things on HBO Max and in theaters.

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