Denzel Washington says his actor son worried about being in his 'shadow'

Denzel Washington has revealed he told his son to research the careers of Kirk and Michael Douglas after he complained about being in his father’s “shadow”.

The actor’s son, John David Washington, stars opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in HBO comedy Ballers following a successful career as an American football player.

But Denzel, who plays a tough-talking father in the Oscar-nominated drama Fences, admitted his son had voiced concerns about following in his father’s footsteps before he landed the role.

Washington won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Fences (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Denzel told the Press Association: “(John David) found his own niche in football. I never knew but he said: ‘I always wanted to be an actor like my dad’.

“He said to me once; ‘Your shadow is so big, I don’t know’.

“I said: ‘You ever heard of Kirk Douglas?’. He said ‘no’. I said: ‘You heard of Michael Douglas?’. He said ‘yeah, of course’.

Denzel told his son to ‘Google Kirk Douglas’, pictured here with wife Anne in 2001 (Tim Ockenden/PA)

“I said Google ‘Kirk Douglas’ and then come and talk to me about my shadow. I don’t think Michael Douglas acted and played in the NFL.

“For some people it’s a dream of a lifetime to make it to the NFL. For some people it’s a dream of a lifetime to make it as an actor.

“He’s done both and he’s 32. It pisses me off.”

Denzel is nominated for the best actor award at the Oscars on February 26 for his performance as Troy Maxson in the 1950s-set drama Fences.

His co-star, Viola Davis, is nominated for best supporting actress, while the film – which Denzel directed – is also up for best picture and best adapted screenplay.

Asked whether Academy Award success was important to him, Denzel – a two-time Oscar winner – replied: “I think it is here. I think so.

“I did all I could and I didn’t have to go far with these great actors.

“My desire was to showcase them. To take care of them. To share them, I didn’t have to showcase them.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m just happy for all of them.”

Fences, the big screen adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is released in UK cinemas on Friday.


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