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banner Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 17:48 GMT
Washington: No more Mr Nice Guy
Denzel Washington
Washington: Fans hope Training Day will win him the best actor Oscar
Training Day star Denzel Washington has been nominated for the best actor Oscar for the third time in his career - and has finally won.

Playing totally against type finally proved to be the making of Washington's 25-year career.

An imposing, charismatic actor, he has largely made a path in Hollywood playing the good guy.

But in Training Day, for which he has won best actor Oscar, Washington plays the meanest, most corrupt drugs cop on the block.

Denzel Washington
Washington: Goes against type as a corrupt narcotics detective

As well as the approval of the academy, Training Day has earned Washington a place at the top of the US box office and largely favourable reviews in the US and UK.

Washington's fans will undoubtedly be pleased to see him win.

But for many, Washington's best actor prize is well overdue.

Indeed, after Training Day, the most recent example of a lead-actor winning performance from Washington came in 2000 in The Hurricane.

Skill

The film - based on the true story of a boxer wrongly accused of murdering three people in 1966 - did earn Washington an Oscar nomination.

Ultimately he missed out on the statuette but many critics believed Washington's performance was the best of the year.

Still, The Hurricane certainly proved what many Washington fans knew - and one supporting actor Oscar showed - that Washington was an actor of immense skill and on-screen appeal.

The Hurricane
The Hurricane: Many thought Washington should have won the best actor Oscar

Washington has been honing his talents for more than two decades on film and TV.

He is the son of a Pentecostal minister and a hairdresser from Mount Vernon, New York, and his parents' own love of showbusiness shaped his.

His first career step was a journalism course but, after graduating, he went to San Francisco to study acting.

He was soon taking TV roles but it was not until he joined the cast of long-running medical series St Elsewhere in 1982 that Washington won acclaim.

This led to Hollywood recognition and a series of gritty, worthy roles. First came his role as anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom - which won him his first best supporting actor Oscar nod.

It was followed by Glory two years later, in which he played an embittered yet courageous runaway slave. This won him a best supporting actor Oscar.

Honourable

Washington was now on the Hollywood A-list, even throughout his three-movie collaboration with controversial director Spike Lee.

In fact, Lee's 1992 biopic Malcolm X won Washington another Oscar nomination - this time for best actor.

Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans: Showed Washington's athletic side

In was another serious and honourable role for Washington but in 1993 he proved himself as an action star in The Pelican Brief.

In 1999, Washington starred in hit thriller The Bone Collector playing a paralysed forensics expert who joins forces with a young policewoman, played by Angelina Jolie, to track down a serial killer.

American football drama Remember the Titans and The Hurricane further displayed Washington's athletic skills, even while acting.

But it if any movie has stretched Washington, it is the no-nonsense Training Day.

Moreover, despite this radical - some would say risky - change of direction for Washington, most movie critics and fans believe it has only made him more compelling.

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