Denzel Washington. I am a nut for Denzel Washington. MAN ON FIRE, TRAINING DAY, REMEMBER THE TITANS…I’ve seen MAN ON FIRE maybe four times. The only reason Denzel Washington does not have a dozen Oscars on his mantel is the same reason that Cary Grant never won any at all: He is such a natural, with such born grace, that his performances seem to come too easily to him, as if he’s tossing them off–which he is not; he is subtle and cerebral–as opposed to the often strenuous and even exhausting performances of someone like Dustin Hoffman. David Thomson, in his authoritative THE NEW BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF FILM makes a convincing argument that Cary Grant remains the “best and most important actor in the history of cinema.” Especially in films that are not primarily–or at all–concerned with racial issues, that are instead about universal human values and about the spiritual core of humankind, Washington is as riveting and convincing as Grant. Unfortunately, at 51, he is too old to play the leads in many of my books, but he would be great as Spencer Grant, the protagonist of DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART, as Ethan Truman in THE FACE, as Travis Cornell in a quality film version of WATCHERS (as opposed to the deeply moronic versions so far made)… But I know enough about the film industry to be sure there is no chance whatsoever that such a blissful intersection of actor and material will ever occur for me, not in my lifetime.
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