John David Washington reveals best piece of acting advice he received from father Denzel Washington

Actor and former professional American football player is the son of the Oscar winner

Annabel Nugent
Tuesday 06 December 2022 10:19 GMT
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John David Washington reveals best acting advice from father Denzel

John David Washington has revealed the best piece of acting advice he has received from his father Denzel Washington.

The Tenet star and former professional American football player is the son of Oscar-winner Denzel and musician Pauletta Washington.

Washington, 38, has starred in films including Spike Lee’s 2018 film BlacKkKlansman, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, and Christopher Nolan’s 2020 action-thriller Tenet.

He also appeared in HBO’s comedy series Ballers, and acted opposite Zendaya in Sam Levinson’s Netflix film Malcolm & Marie (2021).

Washington appeared on Monday night’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (6 December) to speak about his lead role opposite Samuel L Jackson and Danielle Brooks in the current Broadway production of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson.

Asked whether his parents gave him any advice before he made his Broadway debut, the actor said that his mum still had notes for him even after seeing the play 29 times.

“They’re great supportive parents,” he said. “My father talks about owning his space and believing what you’re saying. My mother is the same way.”

Asked what “owning the space” means to him, Washington replied: “Just standing strong and not being afraid to stay still and deliver the lines at times and then don’t be afraid to move, turn and talk to your partner at times.

“Finding your power spots on stage that feel the most comfortable and natural for the character to be in when delivering a certain part of the monologue or the conversation.”

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Asked where his “power spot” is, Washington joked: “I can’t tell you that!”

Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in 2020’s ‘Tenet’
Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in 2020’s ‘Tenet’ (©2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

“That gives away the family secrets?” quipped host Stephen Colbert.

Washington went on to reveal another piece of advice he received from his mentor Stephen Henderson (previously Lady Bird and Fences).

“He told me, ‘Don’t get it right, get it true,’” recalled Washington. “So instead of aiming your performance, try to be as truthful as possible.”

Earlier this year, Washington starred opposite Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, and Anya Taylor-Joy in the period comedy-thriller Amsterdam.

Robbie recently spoke about improvising her kiss with Brad Pitt in the forthcoming blockbuster Babylon.

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