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Denzel Washington received what many considered a well-earned Academy Award for his critically acclaimed role in Training Day.

Ironically, however, the actor almost didn’t attend the awards ceremony that year. If only because he really didn’t feel like dealing with some of the people there.

How many Oscars has Denzel Washington won?

Denzel Washington posing while at the 'Equalizer 2' premiere/.
Denzel Washington | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Washington has won two Oscars in his long and historic career in the music industry. He received his first Oscar for his role in Glory. That night helped fulfill a dream of his ever since he was a younger actor, watching other Oscar-winners with their awards.

“Every young actor wants to win an Oscar. Years ago I was in a parking lot across the street from Spago, and I could see the stars with their Oscars going into the after party. I said to myself, ‘I want to do that one day,'” Washington once told Oprah. “When I was at Fordham, I recall looking at Avery Fisher Hall and the New York State Theater and saying, ‘I’m going to work in those theaters.’ I’ve had those dreams.”

So when Washington won his first Best-Supporting Actor Oscar for Glory, he couldn’t believe it.

“Kevin Kline was in the wings. He’d won the year before [1988] for A Fish Called Wanda. After I got the Oscar and walked offstage, I said to Kevin, ‘Did that just happen?’ It felt like I fell asleep in the mail room and I was going to wake up and find out it was all a dream,” he added.

The Macbeth star would go on to win a Best Actor Oscar for his lead role in Training Day. But it came at a time when Washington really didn’t want to deal with the ceremony.

Why Denzel Washington didn’t want to deal with the Oscars when he won for ‘Training Day’

Washington wasn’t in the mood to attend the Oscars that year. It was partially because of how a film he held a lot of pride in, The Hurricane, was treated when it was released. Washington was very proud of the movie, and felt the film wasn’t given a fair shake.

“The studio didn’t release it properly and it got buried. They were trying too hard to position it for the Oscars and they wound up hurting the movie. But I think it’s one of those films whose reputation will gain over time. It’s the one I’m most proud of, right up there with Malcolm X,” he once said in an interview with Total Film.

Because of The Hurricane, and also to keep himself down to Earth, Washington almost didn’t attend the 2002 Oscars. Ironically, that would be the same year he’d win for Training Day.

“I didn’t want to go to the Oscars. After Hurricane, I was like, ‘I don’t feel like dealing with these people. I’m just not going to go.’ In order to protect yourself, you almost have to not care. So that night I didn’t care — and of course, they go, ‘Here,'” he once said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

How Denzel Washington felt about winning an Oscar for ‘Training Day’


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Although it was very unlike most of the roles he’d done, Washington was more than grateful for his win. What made his moment even more special was actor Sidney Poitier also receiving an Oscar that same night.

“It was beautiful. It was also so wonderful to win and have had the chance to express my thanks to Sidney Poitier, who was given an honorary Oscar on the same evening, and thank him for being the first great Afro-American star. He paved the way,” he said.

Winning an Oscar may have been nice, but Washington refused to let Oscar glory get to his head.

“My mother has a saying: ‘Man gives the award but God gives the reward.’ I’m looking for the reward. When it comes down to it, an Oscar’s 15 pounds of statue,” he said. “Awards are icing on the cake. You’ll have your time in the sun and your time in the shade. Right now, it’s pretty sunny for me [laughs]. How much better can my career get, anyway?”