For years, Denzel Washington and Will Smith have been pitted against each other, and there’s even been an uneven debate sparked about which actor was better. This awards season has been another example of the faux competition, as Washington and Smith are competing in the race for an Oscar. While fans and the media have pushed the competition, both actors have been friendly behind the scenes for decades. Smith has felt nothing but love from Washington, as viewers race to see who will take home the Academy Award this year.
The King Richard star spoke on his close relationship with The Tragedy of Macbeth star during a People interview. Before becoming the superstar, he is today, Smith saw Washington as a mentor, often asking for his advice regarding his acting career. Their relationship has carried on as they compete against each other for an Oscar again. Smith revealed the sincere message he got from Washington after winning his first SAG Award:
We’ve spent a lot of time together. So, we’ve been talking, he’s always been a mentor for me and he grabbed me and he said, ‘This is your year.’ He just hugged me and he said, ‘I’m so happy for you. Just love who you’re becoming.’
Getting words of encouragement from the revered actor is like getting a congratulatory talk from your dad. It was nice to know that Denzel Washington is just as excited to see Will Smith’s award show run as fans are despite being competitors. Even at the height of the best actor debate, Washington defended Smith with a funny take, mentioning the Hitch star had more money than him.
So Smith has been in the box office star’s corner for years. In the same interview, the Emancipation star mentioned he’s sought advice from the two-time Oscar winner for years. Much like Will Smith’s SAG win, Denzel Washington has encouraged him along the way while telling Smith how proud he is. Smith spilled that his success “felt like a weight was lifted off” the acclaimed actor’s shoulders. Before the entertainer became a box office draw, Washington was the top Black Hollywood star from the late 1980s to mid-1990s.
While contemporaries like Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes scored hit films, it was the Fresh Prince star who made a big enough dent to relieve the pressure from Washington. But Will Smith’s accomplishment was amount more than just him. After taking home Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, the rap legend had an emotional reaction during a backstage moment. He was overwhelmed speaking on protecting and highlighting the Black women involved, including Venus and Serena Williams, in elevating him in King Richard.
At this point, Will Smith has become the frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar. He’s facing some fierce competition from Denzel Washington, Javier Bardem, Andrew Garfield and Benedict Cumberbatch. You’ll have to tune into the Academy Awards on March 27 at 8 pm to see which of the 2022 Oscar nominees take home the golden statuette. To see what else both actors have coming up, you can check out our schedule of upcoming 2022 movies.
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