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Oscars 2002 Friday, 22 March, 2002, 08:36 GMT
Mellow Denzel turns tough
Denzel Washington in Training Day
Washington took on his first bad guy role in Training Day

Denzel Washington - best actor for his role as a corrupt undercover narcotics cop in Training Day - was locked into a tight Oscars race.

Russell Crowe was the presumed frontrunner in this top category. But many commentators predicted that Washington could take the trophy.

Washington, 47, is something of an Oscars veteran, having been nominated four times before.

Russell Crowe is tipped as the best actor Oscar winner
Crowe: Considered Washington's only obstacle to winning

He won in 1989 for his supporting role as a slave who becomes a soldier in Glory.

He's played memorable roles such as Malcolm X and the slain South African civil rights leader Stephen Biko in Cry Freedom.

So his portrayal of the hyper-kinetic Alonzo Harris, a lawless Los Angeles cop, was quite a departure.

It marked the first time Washington played a bad guy.

He says: "(I had) never really ventured on that side, the dark side.

"This is a whole other world, some place I haven't been. So, that was exciting."

Extreme

The academy was clearly impressed by his performance, and so was the actor.

"I like it. I like the movie. I've seen it a lot. I don't usually watch my films too much, but I watched this one a lot," he says.


It feels real but I don't think there's a guy that walks around dressed like he does, driving the cars he does and doing all that

Denzel Washington on his Training Day role

In this police drama, Washington attempts to induct an idealistic and honest young cop, played by Ethan Hawke.

In 24 action-packed hours, Hawke's character is dragged into the depths of his new boss's lawless and corrupt ways.

Although the film was inspired by real life tales of police corruption in several American cities, Washington claims the flamboyant cop he plays is a little extreme.

"I don't think there is anybody like this guy, I hope not," he says.

"It feels real but I don't think there's a guy that walks around dressed like he does, driving the cars he does and doing all that."

Guilt

The movie is set in Los Angeles and it arrives on the screen in the wake of the Ramparts police corruption scandal that made headlines in the city.

Washington accepts that the Los Angeles Police Department wouldn't necessarily be big fans of the movie.

Denzel Washington
Washington: Would be the first black best actor Oscar winner in 40 years

But, he explains: "There's corruption in every city. LA doesn't have the monopoly on it and our film isn't so much an examination of corruption as it is an examination of a corrupt individual."

Washington is aware that he is the first black actor to take home a best actor trophy in almost 40 years.

Washington is at the top of the game, his performance in Training Day confirms his Hollywood A-list star status.

It also provides ample proof of his growing versatility as an actor.

Countdown to the biggest event of the movie year

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