I was a mess. I don`t know if I ate bad food or if it was too much tension, but I got sick. There was a huge traffic jam, and I remember saying `Look, it took me all this time to get here - I`m showing up in a limousine and I don`t care how late I am.` By the time I got there, there was no red carpet. Everyone was inside because the show had already started. - on being late for the 1987 Oscars
The acting coach Stanislavsky talks about cutting 90 percent. So you do research, research, research, then you drop it and listen when you`re in the scene and know who you are. You never know how it`s gonna come around. That`s why you go out there and find out. It`s because you need the human beings that hook you into the character. Maybe I`m not as imaginative as the average actor. I need some kind of a hook sometimes.
(on what he enjoys about making films) The magic. There`s fun creating that magic. Bringing something to life, whatever. Putting together a character. The twists and the turns that people don`t expect. So to sit around and talk about it before someone sees it is boring. I think there should be some mystery in it. Who wants to know everything about it? I think it ruins movies when you know everything about how the movie was made and put together. If you explain, it`s like showing you the trick before I show you the magic. Let me explain to you how it works. All right, now come see the show. It`s supposed to be magic. And being an actor is about creating that magic.
(on where he likes to keep his Oscars) "Next to each other."
(on what inspires him as an actor) I like to go to new places. To specify, it is to say that I like not knowing. I like knowing when I get there. I know when it starts coming around and it raises the hair or it doesn`t. I was trained in the theater. So it was instilled in me as a young performer to take chances and not to worry about all that, because failure is a part of growth. If you`re gonna fail, fail big and take chances. So I`ve done that, or I`ve tried to do that.
I have to try and find a way to remain positive because those days are boring to me, really, just hanging off the side of a building, fighting or grunting. - on shooting action scenes
People say, `Congratulations, you finally got the Oscar`, and I have to correct them: `Actually, it`s my second one. I won for Glory (1989) in 1989.` Some people say, `Yeah, but that was for a supporting actor role` but for me, it`s the same thing.
(1998 quote on his career) In any craft or artistic endeavor you want to do different things. You want to go to different places, you want to find different ways to go about it. You may have your constants, but you`re looking to go into new territories, new angles, new challenges. So that`s how it is for me as an actor. I couldn`t play the same guy eight times and I don`t have to. I think I`ve said all of my career, I`m not a celebrity. I`m not a movie star. I`m just an actor who is more popular right now. I don`t even know what a movie star is. And one of the reasons why I keep on going back to make movies that don`t have such huge budgets is that it`s not as much pressure. You feel like you can take more chances.
I remain thankful for the gifts that I`ve been given and I try to use them in a good way, in a positive way.
I just didn`t see myself in Amistad (1997). I ain`t putting no chains around my neck. I`m not in the mood right now, too edgy. It just wasn`t for me. I`m not having it. I`m like, `Yeah, that`s what happened then, but how about me cutting everybody`s head off and end the movie there?` (on refusing the role in Amistad (1997))
(1998 quote on his long-standing marriage) She puts up with me. I think, also, in a way the traveling helps. We`re able to travel together and also be apart sometimes. Not everybody gets to live like that. Twenty years now. It`s like you start to pat yourself on the back when you look around you and you see that very few people have 20 years into a marriage.
The only way I`m going to L.A. is with a job. (when asked what prompted him to go to Hollywood).
Acting is just a way of making a living, the family is life.
Probably Shakespeare. I did Othello in college, and Richard III, and those are the two roles I`d like to revisit. Movies? There`s a couple I wish I hadn`t done. I won`t say which ones, but there are a couple of mistakes there. - on what roles he`d like to redo
(on having to do publicity) I`m an actor, so that`s the bottom line. I`m not a marketing whatever. My strength does not lie in marketing a product called `Denzel.` That`s not what I do. My strength lies in playing a part and hopefully entertaining and affecting people on some level. Now I`m not being naive. I know that marketing comes into play when you`re spending 50 or 60 million dollars of other people`s money to make a film. You have to be involved in marketing that product. But the publicity gets to be boring. How many times can I tell the same story? I understand the importance of doing publicity for a film, so I`m willing to do that, but I don`t want to sit around talking about myself. That`s not a great day for me. That`s not my idea of fun.
I`m very proud to be black, but black is not all I am. That`s my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it`s not all of who I am nor is it the basis from which I answer every question.
For the movie Glory, before going out to shoot the whipping scene I`m backstage in a room, and I`m thinking, how am I gonna do this scene? All I did - you know people ask me, how did you prepare? - I say, I prayed. And I got on my knees and they were waiting for me, and I prayed. And then I prayed to all the spirits. I said, "Look fellas, ladies," and I`m talking about those who have been, and I said, "Look I don`t know, I`m just rolling with you all. Just whatever happens, I`m going. And I said are you with me? Come on!" I`m serious! And I went out there and what hit me was, I`m in charge. Never put my head down. This isn`t the first time this has happened to me the character - and in fact I had the guy build all the scars to put on my back - and I went out there with an attitude that I`m going to take this and not fold. But it hurt. And the tear was actually real. You know, you just allow it and you`re thankful for it. It`s not technical. It`s not science. It`s spirit.
I have a friend who says `the first 50 was for them, this 50`s for me`. I like that. The weirdest part of it, or even the saddest part, is that you start to see people die. You go `Man! He wasn`t even that old`. I lost a friend recently who died of a heart attack. He was 58. When I was 20, 58 was old. It ain`t now. - on approaching 50
I say luck is when an opportunity comes along, and you`re prepared for it.
(1998 quote on his career) With four children I have to maximize the work I do now financially. It`s like I have to do one film for financial reasons, as opposed to when I was single, or before we had all of these children. I find that I`m not as good at not working as I thought I would be. I get itchy. My wife also says I`m only good for about three weeks of downtime. But I`m learning a decent pace now. I try to take four or five months off between jobs.
I root for the Knicks. I root for the Yankees. (when asked which does he call home, L.A. or New York).
(In 1998) "Acting`s like someone asking you for years to write the characters, but they write the book."
That ain`t fair, really. Michelle Pfeiffer hasn`t been finding a lot of work recently because she doesn`t like what a woman her age is offered. That`s a real double standard. You get Sean Connery, who gets older and older, still playing opposite young ladies, but it doesn`t work the other way around. - on working with young female co-stars
(on making movies) It`s simple: You get a part. You play a part. You play it well. You do your work and you go home. And what is wonderful about movies is that once they`re done, they belong to the people. Once you make it, it`s what they see. That`s where my head is at.