A-lister Denzel Washington has been entertaining audiences for decades. In celebration of the release of his latest movie, "Equalizer 2," on July 20, 2018, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at his time in the spotlight. Keep reading to see Denzel's life in photos!
RELATED: Bruce Willis's life in pictures
Denzel Washington, who was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on Dec. 28, 1954, got into acting by accident. He was a student at Fordham University when he spent a summer working at a YMCA camp in Connecticut. Performing for the kids with the other counselors sparked a new passion, and upon returning to college, Denzel changed his major to drama. He graduated in 1977, studied at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and began auditioning and acting in the New York City theater scene. He's seen here in his 1980 headshot.
RELATED: Tom Hanks' life in pictures
Denzel Washington's big break came when he was cast as Dr. Phillip Chandler on the NBC series "St. Elsewhere" in 1982. At the time, he was was one of only a few black actors to appear on the series for its entire six-year run. He followed up "St. Elsewhere" with small roles in several movies including "A Soldier's Story," "Hard Lessons" and "Power."
RELATED: Cher's life in pictures
Denzel Washington also found love in the early 1980s. He met Pauletta Pearson on the set of his first TV movie, "Wilma." The couple, pictured here in 1986, had an instant connection, but Denzel had to propose three times before Pauletta — a talented actress and musician who'd studied piano at Juilliard — said yes! "You heard it here first," Denzel explained in 2013. "She turned me down, she said no. And since it was three times, that means she turned me down twice." The two eventually tied the knot in June 1983 after a few years of dating.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… the babies, of course! Denzel Washington became a father twice over in the 1980s. His eldest son, "Ballers" actor John David Washington, was born in 1984 (he's seen here with his dad in 1990). Then came a daughter…
Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta welcomed their second child, daughter Katia, in 1986. She's seen here with her parents in 1990.
Denzel Washington truly showed off his acting chops when he starred as anti-apartheid political activist Steven Biko in 1987's "Cry Freedom." The movie was critically acclaimed and earned Denzel the first of many Academy Award nominations.
Denzel Washington followed up his 1987 Oscar nomination with a 1989 Oscar win. The New York native won his first Academy Award for his portrayal of a defiant, self-assured ex-slave soldier in the film "Glory." "I want to pay homage to… the black soldiers who helped make this country free," Denzel said while accepting his Oscar.
From a family of four to a family of six! Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington, pictured here at the 1991 Academy Awards, welcomed twins Olivia and Malcolm in April 1991.
Denzel Washington wasn't done with his Oscar reign quite yet. The actor was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor for his flawless portrayal of the titular civil rights leader in 1992's "Malcolm X." The Spike Lee-directed drama was a huge critical and commercial success that garnered widespread praise for Denzel's performance.
The following year, Denzel Washington received additional accolades for playing the lawyer of a gay man with AIDS in "Philadelphia." The 1993 film, which also starred Hollywood favorite Tom Hanks, was beloved by critics and audiences. It went on to earn several nominations including an Oscar nod for best original screenplay.
After starring in a slew of popular '90s movies including "The Pelican Brief" opposite Julia Roberts and "Crimson Tide" opposite Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington took on the role of an angel in "The Preacher's Wife." The 1996 movie co-starred music icon Whitney Houston, who also performed on its bestselling soundtrack, and earned an Oscar nomination for best music, original musical or comedy score.
Denzel Washington partnered up with director Spike Lee once again for 1998's "He Got Game." The movie, which co-starred NBA great Ray Allen, was a sleeper hit, grossing over $22 million and leading kids everywhere to refer to themselves as "Jesus Shuttlesworth."
Denzel Washington continued to rake in the awards in the 2000s. The A-lister won a best actor Golden Globe for his performance as boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in 2000's "The Hurricane." Denzel was the first black actor to win the prize since Sidney Poitier in 1963. He also earned an Oscar nomination for his work in the film.
That same year, Denzel Washington played football coach Herman Boone in one of the most celebrated movies ever — the biographical sports drama "Remember the Titans." The 2000 flick was a huge box-office success that earned more than $136 million worldwide.
In 2001, Denzel Washington became a part of Hollywood history once again when he won the Academy Award for best actor for his performance as a corrupt cop in "Training Day." He was only the second African-American actor to win in the category after Sidney Poitier, who was presented with an honorary Oscar that same night. "Forty years I've been chasing Sidney [Poitier], they finally give it to me, what'd they do? They give it to him the same night," Denzel joked during his acceptance speech. "I'll always be chasing you, Sidney. I'll always be following in your footsteps. There's nothing I would rather do, sir. Nothing I would rather do. God bless you. God bless you." "Training Day" was so successful that it grossed over $100 million at the box office and spawned a television series.
Denzel Washington made his directing debut with 2002's "Antwone Fisher," in which he also starred. The movie, which also featured Derek Luke and Josh Brolin, was well-received by critics and audiences, who praised Denzel's directing and Derek's performance.
Next up, Denzel Washington starred alongside Dakota Fanning in 2004's "Man on Fire." The movie was a huge moneymaker, grossing over $130 million at the worldwide box office. Denzel also starred in another blockbuster that year, "The Manchurian Candidate."
Denzel Washington and director Spike Lee were the gift that kept on giving. The two paired up again for the 2006 crime thriller "Inside Man." Denzel starred as an NYPD hostage negotiator in the film and audiences loved it — "Inside Man" earned nearly $185 million at the box office. The same year, Denzel published his first book, "A Hand to Guide Me," a compilation of interviews with legends and leaders sharing stories about the people who shaped their lives. It was a New York Times bestseller.
Denzel Washington continued to dominate the box office with his role as former drug kingpin Frank Lucas in "American Gangster." The 2007 drama was a critical and commercial success, raking in a cool $266 million worldwide! "American Gangster" received two Academy Award nominations and inspired music mogul JAY-Z to create his bestselling concept album aptly titled "American Gangster."
Denzel Washington tried his hand at directing once again in 2007 when he starred and directed the hit Disney film "The Great Debaters." The movie, inspired by the real-life Wiley College debate team, received universal admiration for its wonderful cast, powerful script and uplifting story.
In 2010, Denzel Washington returned to the theater after nearly 30 years away. The actor took on the role of Troy Maxson opposite Viola Davis in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's "Fences." Denzel won his first Tony Award for his outstanding performance.
Another year, another Oscar nomination (seriously this guy is the GOAT)! Denzel Washington received his sixth Academy Award nomination for his work as William "Whip" Whitaker Sr., an airline pilot who miraculously crash-lands his plane after it suffers an in-flight mechanical failure, in "Flight." The 2012 movie, which grossed more than $160 million, also earned an Oscar nod for best original screenplay.
Denzel Washington returned to Broadway in 2014 when he starred in Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama "A Raisin in the Sun." His performance was critically acclaimed and the production won the 2014 Tony Award for best play revival.
Joined by wife Pauletta and three of his four kids — Olivia, Katia and John David (son Malcolm couldn't make it because he was working on his American Film Institute Conservatory thesis) — Denzel Washington accepted the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards in January 2016.
In 2016, Denzel Washington took August Wilson's play "Fences" from the stage to the big screen. He produced, directed and starred in the acclaimed movie, which earned co-star Viola Davis her first Oscar. The movie also scored nods for best picture, best adapted screenplay and best actor for Denzel. While he didn't take home the Oscar for his performance as Troy Maxson, he did win a Golden Globe for his work.
Denzel Washington proved, once again, just how talented he is with his performance in "Roman J. Israel, Esq." His work in the 2017 flick led to nominations for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award — Denzel's ninth Oscar nomination overall and his sixth for best actor!
Denzel Washington celebrated another major milestone in 2018: his 35th wedding anniversary. He and wife Pauletta Washington celebrated their special day on June 25. "I don't know if it's show business that has a monopoly on divorce, it's just that you hear about it," Denzel said in a Reddit AMA in 2014. "I just think that you have to work at it. Not give up on each other. It's a commitment. It's not all the honeymoon, it doesn't last forever, so you work at it. And hopefully you're good friends first, that might help!" He added, "I grew up in athletics, but my wife's family had a great education. My wife was a child [music] prodigy. I married up! Her family had a love and a closeness that I didn't have. I came from a broken home and I said I have to have that."
Denzel Washington made his way back to Broadway in 2018. The actor starred as Theodore "Hickey" Hickman in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" from April to July.