Golden Globes 2019 nominee John David Washington's life is a tutorial on how to carve a career for yourself away from your famous parents
Blackkklansman star John David Washington’s greatest blessing in his career may possibly be that he looks like his mother Pauletta rather than his more recognizable father, Denzel Washington.
John David Washington may not be a name you've heard too many times, but be prepared to hear it a lot more, now that he has bagged a Golden Globe nomiation (and definitely deserved a win) for his role as Detective Ron Stallworth in ‘Blackkklansman’. The actor who first caught our attention in HBO’s ‘Ballers’ and later as the lead in the scathingly satirical ‘Blackkklansman’ may have a looked a little familiar to you, but Washington’s greatest blessing in his career may possibly be that he looks more like his mother Pauletta rather than his more recognizable father, Denzel Washington.
Despite the weighty legacy of Denzel, Washington has been able to create a niche for himself in Hollywood with roles that have made people stop and take a minute to actually find out who the actor is. Surprise, surprise, it’s Denzel’s son. Then you go back and listen to Washington speak again, and you chastise yourself for not realizing it sooner.
Voice quality aside, Washington’s performance and dialogue delivery are all too different for this to be gnawing at you while watching him in action. However, we are thankful that he has inherited his father’s inherent likability, which is something that landed Washington his career-launching role on ‘Ballers.’
Nominated for his role in @BlacKkKlansman, John David Washington is the center of attention on the #GoldenGlobes Red Carpet as he arrives with mother Pauletta and Cecil B. deMille alumn father Denzel. pic.twitter.com/ZDPW5YhmL7— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) January 7, 2019
According to casting director Sheila Jaffe, the role of the egotistical Ricky Jerret, was one of the toughest roles she has ever had to fill. While the thousands of actors that she interviewed nailed the outsized ego of the NFL player, none of them could shed the macho flavor for the charm required.
She remembered that Denzel’s son – whom she hoped inherited his father’s acting gene – was a football running back and reached out. Lucky for her, and for us, the former running back for the Sacramento Mountain Lions brought out the charm in Ricky Jarret that she hoped to achieve.
“This character, he made me giggle at first because I know guys with his spirit,” Men’s Journal quotes Washington as saying. “But what really attracted me to Jerret was the cultural misunderstanding of a guy like this. A lot of NFL guys are misunderstood. I felt like I had an opportunity to take a magnifying glass to why he acts like this, because of what he’s dealt with and the kind of pressures he’s under.”
The show started airing in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2018 that people started actually take note of Washington, which is clearly evident from his filmography. Last year he was in four movies, one of which is the critically acclaimed and commercially successful ‘Blackkklansman.'
Directed by Spike Lee, it was one of the best films of the year, having bagged numerous award show nominations and accolades. In the film, Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the first black officer in the Colorado Springs, Colorado police department, who proactively seeks to go undercover in the KKK.
Having been fluent in the "King’s English", Ron, through phone conversations, tricks KKK honcho David Duke (Topher Grace), into believing that he is a white man who shares the same sentiments. With the help of Detective Flip (Adam Driver), who becomes the "face of Ron", he infiltrates a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and stops an attack on a couple of members of a black student union at Colorado College.
While portraying this iconic role, Washington perfectly walked a tight rope of anger, exasperation, determination and the will to not let hate win. His was definitely one of the best performances of 2018 and while it proves that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, it also proves that apples from the same tree taste just as sweet.
We are excited to see Washington’s journey so far, and it is only a matter of time before the name John David Washington becomes as much of a household name as dad Denzel.