Personal detailsName: Denzel Washington
Born: 28 December 1954 (Age: 59)
Where: New York, New York, USA
Awards: Won 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes
All about this star
The male Oscar nominees of 2002 were an immensely talented and wildly varied bunch. There was the maverick brilliance of Sean Penn, the Shakespearian gravitas of Ian McKellen and Tom Wilkinson, the long screen experience of Jon Voight and those precocious flavours-of-the-last-couple-of-years, Will Smith and Russell Crowe. But, strangely, there was only one dyed-in-the-wool, tried-and-tested Film Star: only one man with the looks of a Newman or a Redford with an outstanding thespian ability to back those looks up: only one man who'd been dominating big-budget movies for over a decade. That man, of course, was Denzel Washington, accepting his fifth nomination and, without doubt, one of the pre-eminent actors of his generation. It came as no surprise when he was named Best Actor.
Denzel Washington was born on the 28th of December, 1954, in Mount Vernon, at the north end of the Bronx in New York City. His father - himself named Denzel after the Doctor Denzel who delivered him - was a Pentecostal minister with the Church of God in Christ. His mother, Lynne, was a beautician and former gospel singer, while there were also an older sister, Lorice, and younger brother David. Incredibly, Denzel Jr was unhappy with his looks from an early age, eventually getting caps of those unsightly front gap-teeth.
He was a serious child, was Denzel, but brought up in very sociable surroundings, spending much time listening to his mother and father, in their own different styles, entertaining their clients at work. It's often been said that the boy picked up his desire to act from the flamboyant communication that went on around him at this time. He certainly picked up a desire to work - the family ethic was very strong - and young Denzel found himself labouring in barber shops and beauty parlours from the age of 11. He was also a member of the Boys' Club of America, for whom he is a leading spokesman to this day (he's also a major supporter of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, and AIDS-hospice The Gathering Place).
When Denzel was 14, he and Lorice were sent away to boarding school. Their parents reasoned they would get a better education but, more importantly, the kids would not be around to witness the messy end of their marriage. Lynne now raised them herself, and Denzel is always quick to praise her for keeping him on the straight and narrow. Remembering his three best friends of the time, he once explained that one was murdered, one died from AIDS-related illness, while the third was in the middle of a 25-year stretch. And Denzel was living like a king in Hollywood. Nice one, mum.