Denzel Washington, Man on Fire

“I’m a God-fearing man,” he said. “I try not to worry. Fear is contaminated faith.”

Unlike some other top movie stars, Mr. Washington is just as comfortable playing villains, antiheroes and deeply flawed men as he is portraying heroes. If there was ever any pressure on him, as there was on leading Black actors like Sidney Poitier back in the day, to choose saintly, role-model parts rather than demonic, criminal parts, he ignored it.

“What he decides he will do, he will do,” said Brian Grazer, who produced Mr. Washington’s hits “American Gangster” and “Inside Man.” “What he decides he won’t do, he won’t do.”

The actor is nonpareil at playing lethal and unpredictable. His eyes can go dead and scary, full of razor blades, even as he offers that magnetic smile. In life, as in art, Mr. Grazer said, you know that this is not a guy you want to mess with.

Mr. Washington was chilling as the bodyguard out for revenge in the 2004 film “Man on Fire,” and as the sociopathic L.A.P.D. narcotics cop Alonzo Harris in the 2001 thriller “Training Day,” for which he won an Oscar.

“‘Training Day,’ I ad-libbed, like, 50 percent of what you hear,” Mr. Washington said. The director, Antoine Fuqua, used real Los Angeles gang members named Bone, Killer and Hitman as extras. “We had a lot of real folks that had done real things, so I used those people. I learned from those people.”

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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