In this week’s Safe House, Denzel Washington returns to a role that has suited him very well in the past: the bad guy. Over his long, illustrious career, though, positively every single “guy” has suited Denzel well, as virtually every movie features an unforgettable performance from the two-time Oscar winner. Read on to see how we rank his best performances.
5. Cry Freedom
Character: Steve Biko
“Denzel” Line: “You can beat me or jail me or even kill me, but I am not going to be what you want me to be!”
This was Washington’s major-role-in-a-feature-film debut, and it earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Not too shabby. Very much warranted, too: As South African activist-turned-martyr Biko, Washington’s amazing performance was as full of zeal and urgency as the character’s real-life counterpart.
“Denzel” Line: “Let me tell you something, boy: You can march like the white man; you can talk like him; you can sing his songs; you can even wear his suits. But you ain’t NEVER gonna be nothing to him, other than an ugly ass chimp … in a blue suit.”
Washington broke out with the aforementioned Cry Freedom, but two years later, with Edward Zwick’s Glory, he established himself as a force to be reckoned with, winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his compelling portrayal of a proud soldier in an all-black unit during the Civil War.