John David Washington didn’t ask his superstar dad, Denzel Washington, for help breaking into the biz. In fact, he kept his acting aspirations a secret from the Academy Award winner until he was cast in his first role.
The BlacKkKlansman and Tenet actor, 35, revealed in a new Esquire profile that when he decided to transition from professional football to acting, he did so in secrecy, telling no one — other than mom, Pauletta Washington — that he was auditioning. He finally broke the news to his dad after he had already landed HBO’s Ballers.
Yahoo Entertainment sat down on different coasts with two members of the Washington family — Denzel and his son John David. We learned at the Equalizer 2 junket that Denzel knew his son was a natural performer when he, as a little kid, acted alongside home viewings of Glory. Then, at the junket for , John David confirmed his father’s story.
“There was disbelief,” John David told the magazine of his dad’s reaction. He “kept asking questions like ‘For HBO? Like Home Box Office Entertainment? Who? Really? But what’s it called? The Rock?’ He just kept asking questions like ‘Is this real?’ I guess he had to check it with his agents to make sure it was real, and he was happy for me, and then he said exactly what I was going to do anyway, but ‘As soon as this is over, you gotta go learn. You gotta go learn how to do this.’ ”
He said as a kid he quietly harbored dreams of acting, but kept them to himself. His sister Olivia and friends from childhood said they barely remember him mentioning acting, instead he was a sports fanatic, playing football in college and then professionally, while also spending much of his life not being merely “Denzel’s son.”
But after tearing his Achilles in 2013, John David knew his football days — including stints on the practice team for the St. Louis Rams and playing in the NFL Europe — were over. While recovering from surgery for the injury, he was in a funk and unsure of what to do next. That’s when he got a call from family friend Andrew Finkelstein, an agent, who relayed that casting director Sheila Jaffe was looking to cast a role on an HBO show about pro football players.
“Now, granted, I’m on a heavy medication,” Washington recalled. “I’m feeling very, very loosey-goosey, if you will. I don’t feel the most confident. I’m pretty flammable at this point. I just felt very exposed. And he sends the script and I read it, and I’m like, well, ‘This is cool.’ ”
This article was originally published on yahoo.com/entertainment/.