The Guy List: Denzel Washington
Shortly after bitch-slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, Denzel Washington gave Will Smith this advice: “At your highest moment, be careful. That is when the devil comes for you.” Tweet
Why he’s one of us:
Shortly after bitch-slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, Denzel Washington gave Will Smith this advice:
“At your highest moment, be careful. That is when the devil comes for you.”
With that advice in mind, here’s the key difference between Will Smith and Denzel Washington and why Denzel is one of us and Will is not:
Based on his behavior, we can only assume Will Smith swatted away Denzel’s advice as if it had arrived too late; he had already strutted onto the stage, he had already assaulted Chris Rock, and he had already dropped the F-bomb several times from his seat in front of his Hollywood peers and millions and millions of people around the world on live TV.
But Denzel was actually offering Will Smith counsel on what to do next.
PM’s very own Guy Shepherd offers another very solid reason why Denzel belongs on the Guy List, and Will Smith does not:
In his essay, “The Tragedy of Will Smith,” Guy Shepherd explains:
“As far as apologies go, Smith failed the Shepherd family’s four-step approach to forgiveness and ethical living. Here they are:
- Fuck Up,
- Fess Up,
- Figure It Out,
If you haven’t read Guy’s “Four-Step Solution to All That Ails You” that explains this four-step approach in great detail, we suggest you stop what you are doing right now and give it a read.
Meanwhile, of course, we’re here to talk about Denzel not Will Smith; so let us make the point that as you read on you’ll see it’s easy to image Denzel embracing these four steps after fucking up while it’s impossible to image Will Smith being enough of a man to ever consider taking on step #2.
Denzel came from the streets, but he had no interest in staying there.
His parents divorced when he was 14. It was then that his mother made the decision to send him to boarding school. And it’s a good thing she did, because as Denzel later reflected:
“That decision changed my life, because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them.”
He also got a lot of direction as a boy from the Boys Clubs of America, and he hasn’t forgotten it:
As a boy, he spent so much time at his local Boys Club that they would have to gently push him out the door and send him home at night.
He credits his success as an actor to lessons he learned while a member of the Boys Clubs of America:
“Everything you’ve seen or heard about me began with lessons I learned to live by at the Club.”
That’s why he has been the national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.
Sometimes he thinks he should change careers and become a preacher:
Denzel Washington is a devout Christian, he reads the Bible every day, and he often wonders if he should have become a preacher instead of an actor:
“A part of me still says, ‘Maybe, Denzel, you’re supposed to preach. Maybe you’re still compromising.’ I’ve had an opportunity to play great men and, through their words, to preach. I take what talent I’ve been given seriously, and I want to use it for good.”