In 2000, Washington appeared in the Disney film Remember the Titans which grossed over $100 million in the U.S.
When Washington won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Movie in 2000, he observed: “No African-American has won Best Actor in the Golden Globes since Sidney Poitier.” He was the first black actor to win the award in 36 years.
Washington won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his next film, the 2001 cop thriller Training Day, where he played Detective Alonzo Harris, a rogue and evil Los Angeles cop with questionable law-enforcement tactics. He was the second African-American performer to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. The first was Sidney Poitier, who was presented with an Honorary Academy Award the same night. Washington currently holds the records for most Oscar nominations (six) and the most wins (two) by an actor of African descent.
After appearing in 2002’s box office success, the healthcare-themed John Q., Washington directed his first film, a well-reviewed drama called Antwone Fisher, in which he also co-starred.
Between 2003 and 2004, Washington appeared in a series of thrillers that performed generally well at the box office, including Out of Time, Man on Fire, and The Manchurian Candidate. In 2006, he starred in Inside Man, a Spike Lee-directed bank heist thriller co-starring Jodie Foster and Clive Owen, released in March, and Déjà Vu.
In 2006, Washington worked alongside multitalented Irish off-rock band The Script on a project combining music and Hollywood. The hybrid of genres was critically acclaimed, but didn’t receive much mainstream attention because of legal conflicts between The Script’s record label and Denzel’s studio commitments.
In 2007, Washington co-starred with Russell Crowe, for the second time after 1995’s Virtuosity, in American Gangster. He also directed and starred in the drama The Great Debaters with Forest Whitaker. He next appeared in Tony Scott’s 2009 film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (a remake of the 1974 thriller of the same name), where he played New York City subway security chief Walter Garber opposite John Travolta’s villain.
Return to theater
In the summer of 1990, Washington appeared in the title role of the Public Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. In 2005, he appeared onstage again as Marcus Brutus in a Broadway production of Julius Caesar. Despite mixed reviews, the production’s limited run was a consistent sell-out. In the spring of 2010, Washington played Troy Maxson, opposite Viola Davis, in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play on June 13, 2010.
From April to June 2014, Washington played the leading role in the Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic drama A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon. The show received positive reviews and won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
In 2010, Washington starred in The Book of Eli, a post-Apocalyptic drama set in the near future. Also in 2010, he starred as a veteran railroad engineer in the action film Unstoppable, about an unmanned, half-mile-long runaway freight train carrying dangerous cargo. The film was his fifth and final collaboration with director Tony Scott, following Crimson Tide (1995), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006) and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009).
In 2012, Washington starred in Flight, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He co-starred with Ryan Reynolds in Safe House, where he prepared for his role by subjecting himself to a torture session that included waterboarding.
In 2014, Washington starred in The Equalizer, an action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Richard Wenk, based on the television series of same name starring Edward Woodward.