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Denzel Washington, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Fellow old guys Stephen Colbert and guest Denzel Washington started off their first Late Show interview on Thursday reminiscing about the former resident of Colbert’s Ed Sullivan Theater home. After Washington shared that seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show was his strongest memory of the legendary variety series, Colbert—noting the screaming Denzel fans in the balcony—called the two-time Oscar winner “a one-man Beatles.” Fair enough, as Washington—there to promote his first-ever sequel, the questionably necessary The Equalizer 2—has certainly racked up enough accolades, awards, and general good will for any four humans. Also called “the white Streep” by Colbert for his screen legend status, Washington accepted both new honorifics with mock gratitude, along with his added award of office “hunk of the day,” according to one Colbert staffer. “I just want to thank all the other hunks,” he began in his humble acceptance speech, as Colbert reminded everyone of those little white shorts the young Washington wore in 1989's little-remembered starring vehicle The Mighty Quinn.

But hunkiness and Streep/Beatles comparisons aside, Washington told Colbert about a particular evening at his house where neither he nor even invited guest Oprah Winfrey were the most impressive people in attendance. Because when you’re Denzel Washington, sometimes Nelson Mandela pops by for a meal, conversation, and some “charmer”’s banter with Washington’s wife, Pauletta. Colbert, hearing also about other Washington dinner guest Michael Jackson (“He could eat,” explained Washington), angled for his own invitation, appealing to Mrs. Washington, “I have excellent manners.”


Asking Washington why he hasn’t jumped on the lucrative superhero franchise money train yet, Colbert was as surprised as the rest of us at Washington’s response that he’s never been asked. He cited his age, but a clip from Equalizer 2 showed that Washington is still able to kick some onscreen baddie butt, Liam Neeson-style. (And if he’s not the perfect casting for a movie about Marvel’s aged but totally badass Blue Marvel, then nothing makes sense anymore.) Regardless, Washington shared the fact that he’s more or less the secret benefactor of a superheroic king already, as he once helped put aspiring actor and future Black Panther Chadwick Boseman through school. Recounting the time he saw now-superstar Boseman at the Black Panther premiere, Washington joked about telling the king, “Wakanda forever, but where’s my money.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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