Let’s get one thing straight, Denzel Washington – everyone’s favorite Hollywood star – is one incredibly wealthy man, and, with a net worth believed to be somewhere in the region of $250 million, there are no doubts about that. Yet, like so many of Washington’s peers, the actor’s fortune has been derived from the lengthy list of blockbusters he’s starred in over the course of his prestigious career – but just how much does the star make per movie?
Every year, Denzel Washington earns between $60-$80 million, and, depending on the production, the actor can earn around $20 million, give or take, per movie. Altogether, his films are said to have grossed over $3.7 billion, and, in 2017, it was revealed that he had made $290 million since 2003.
Ultimately, it’s no surprise that the seasoned Hollywood veteran earns a fortune every time he graces the big-screen, Washington is a certified star who has just about aced every film he’s ever been in. But, while it’s straight forward to say that the star has got it pretty easy, it’s worth remembering that Washington had a far tougher time achieving success than many know, and his success is a reflection of his grit, integrity, and strength of character.
The Early Years
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1954, Washington was just a youngster when his parents decided to get divorced. Following his parents split, the 14-year-old Washington was sent to Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor.
While that particularly schooling experience sounds tough, Washington often cites his tenure at the academy as a distinctly life-changing experience. Once, the actor even said: “That decision changed my life, because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going.
“The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them.”
Following his time at the academy, Washington attended Fordham University and, while getting involved with the collegiate basketball scene, the young man struggled to find a niche for himself academically and even considered “flunking” out.
Ultimately, it was a combination of another positive experience working at a YMCA summer camp and a prophecy from a woman called Ruth Green at his mother’s salon, that convinced Washington to pursue a career in the performing arts. In light of both events, Washington began studying drama and, in 1977, the young man graduated with a BA in Drama and Journalism.
Reflecting on his education, Washington said: “I found my niche… Acting was fun, and people told me I was good at it. Also, in the back of my head, there was what Ruth Green had said. Maybe acting was what she was talking about. It was where I belonged.”
On The Big Screen
Although Washington had already appeared in a number of stage shows, in 1977, the young actor also featured in his first TV movie, ‘Wilma’. Documenting the life of track sprinter, Wilma Rudolph, the movie was not a hit but did act as a stepping stone for Washington as he sought out his big break.
Other low-key appearances included roles in ‘Flesh and Blood’, ‘Carbon Copy’, and ‘A Soldier’s Story’.
However, Washington was not destined to languish in and around smaller productions forever, and, in 1982, he landed a role in the TV medical drama ‘St. Elsewhere’, where he starred as Dr. Phillip Chandler for the duration of the show’s lifespan.
Washington was widely praised for his exploits on the show, and, before long, the actor was landing starring roles in big-time productions such as ‘Glory’, ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘The Pelican Brief’.
His powerful performance as Pvt. Trip in ‘Glory’ earned the actor his first Oscar for best actor in a supporting role, while his 2001 performance in ‘Training Day’ earned him his first Oscar for best actor in a lead role. It’s worth mentioning that Washington also picked up a number of Oscar nominations for his contributions to the profession.
So, by the dawn of the new century, Washington had already achieved things that many actors, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, can spend their entire careers pursuing.
New Century, Same Energy
After going all out in a series of big-budget roles in movies such as ‘American Gangster’, ‘The Book of Eli’, and ‘The Equalizer’, Washington gradually began to turn his attention to producing and directing his own movies.
Washington’s 2017 period drama ‘Fences’ earned an Oscar nomination for its exploration of racism in American society. The film was such a hit that one critic said: “The performances in Fences are so emotionally raw that we walk out feeling a sense of exhaustion”.
Clearly, a man of many talents, it appears Washington is just as capable of making movies as he is in starring in them.