London Brown's uncanny Denzel Washington impression was learned 'accidentally', shares how stand-up shaped his acting
Brown's impressions, particularly his Denzel Washington impression, are very popular with his fans and, in an interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), he spoke about how he picked up the legendary actor's voice, how he decided to become an actor, and more
London Brown is perhaps best known for playing Reggie on the HBO series 'Ballers' but he is also an excellent stand-up comedian. Speaking to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) in an interview, Brown explained how his background in stand-up has helped shape him as an actor.
"What stand-up does is, it helps you to develop timing and that timing is what I'm able to use when it comes to 'Ballers'," Brown said. "A lot of the little quick witty comebacks that I had in season one and throughout the seasons, that stuff comes from stand up. Stand up teaches you how to be very present too you know, and I think all of that stuff is very crucial for an actor. Me and Rob Cordry, we're able to throw jokes off each other, same thing with me and Russell Brand, because we all do stand-up. So sometimes, it’s a scene where it’s Russell Brand’s time to shine and then he'll send it to me so that I shine but we bounce off each other and it's the same thing with Rob. So stand-up, it was really good. I think it kept me pretty sharp."
Brown's stand-up has earned him a lot of acclaim and in 2013 he won the Best International Comedian award at the Black Comedy Awards in the U.K. His impressions, particularly his Denzel Washington impression, are very popular with his fans. Brown is a huge fan of Washington and says he picked up the veteran actor's voice almost accidentally.
"I'm such a big fan of Denzel," he explained. "I used to watch his movies. I mean, I've watched them and watched them and so I accidentally learned how to do his voice because I wasn't trying to do that. I didn't know that impersonations were so special until I started doing stand-up because in my house, my whole family does them. So I didn't know that was some sort of thing to do but that would happen because I would watch his movies, the next day I would go to school and I'd say 'Yo man, did you see Denzel Washington when he came out the car and he said 'Listen, it's not what you know, it’s what you can prove. Okay, put the money in the bag. Put the money in the bag.' And my friends would be cracking up. I wasn't trying to be funny, but it worked and now I use that one in stand-up. "
Looking back on his high school memories, Brown recalls a particular play he worked on that he will always remember as the moment he decided to be an actor. "There was a play I did in high school," he reminisced. "It was called ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ and I played a character named Plato. And I remember that when I was like 16 and when I did that play, I remember there was a moment within the play or after the play where I was like 'Yo, this is what I want to do. This is it.'"
"I mean, I've always been interested in acting," Brown added. "But I remember that moment then I was like 'Yo, I need, I want to do this. I like this feeling that I have been on stage and getting this response from the audience'."
Moving forward, Brown has a few projects planned for the future and he intends to continue working the grind. "I just finished a project called Bronzeville," he said. "This project is an audio series being directed by Laurence Fishburne and Larenz Tate and a couple of other names in there, but we finished this audio series. It's about Chicago in the 1940s and it was a period piece. I played something totally different from what I've done and it's an audio series. been doing very well during the second season and I think that comes out next year. I'll be hitting the road again, touring, headlining in the country."
Brown will be reprising his role as Reggie when 'Ballers' returns for season 5 starting August 25 exclusively on HBO.