Protagonist (John David Washington) is ready to go in Tenet (2020)

There always seem to be new stars entering the Hollywood scene but, as time goes on, only a handful of them truly manage to stick around and solidify themselves as cinematic staples. An actor who’s been making a serious name for himself over the past several years is John David Washington, whose father is Oscar winner Denzel. The rising star hasn’t relied on his famous name, though, as he’s managed to blaze a clear trail on his own merits. But with so many high-profile films under his belt at this point, is Washington now exclusively a movie star?

John David Washington first gained widespread attention when he appeared alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the HBO dramedy Ballers. Since then, he’s worked on notable films like BlacKkKlansman, The Old Man and the Gun, and Tenet. So in the eyes of the public, he probably looks like a bonafide movie star, yet Washington doesn’t quite see it that way:

[Laughs]. I want to work, I want to act, if that’s stage, streaming, theatrical… what’s most important to me right now is education. I would like to learn from the best. The goal is to collaborate with filmmakers and artists who share the same enthusiasm that I do about the approach and the process and storytelling. In my short experiences I’ve been able to work with people who are as humble as they are talented. The fact I’ve been able to work with people who are that nice, it’s inspiring, I know I’m on the right track.

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The humble comments the actor gave to Deadline indicate that he doesn’t view himself solely as a film star. If anything, he simply views himself as an actor willing to jump into any project that interests him and will ultimately help him evolve as a performer. And his track record definitely represents those sentiments.

So far, John David Washington seems to take a very cerebral approach to his projects. BlacKkKlansman, inspired by a true story, was a biting commentary on the public’s relationship with law enforcement and how it intersects with race. Meanwhile, Tenet was a science fiction thriller that asked audiences to rethink their perception of time. And of course, along the way, there’s plenty he can learn from seasoned filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Spike Lee.

Aside from the productions he chooses, the actor has been quite candid about other aspects of his career as well, particularly stepping out of the shadow of his famous father. He’s previously admitted that despite his accomplishments, people still see him as “Denzel’s son.” Still, he also believes his career truly started when he accepted the fact that Denzel Washington will always be his father. And make no mistake, the younger Washington has plenty of love for his papa, as evidenced by the fond childhood memories he has of being with him on set.

The future is certainly bright for John David Washington though, and he definitely seems to know what he wants moving forward. And if he gets his way, that could even include a role in a superhero movie.

At present, the actor is playing the title character in Beckett, a thriller about an American tourist who becomes the target of a manhunt while visiting Greece. You can check out the film when it makes its Netflix debut on August 13, 2021.

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