Denzel Washington on His Friend Whitney Houston: Her Body Betrayed Her
The Oscar Winner Also Talks About Fame, His Feud With Tarantino and the Addiction Past of His Friend Samuel Jackson
The point of GQ magazine's October issue cover story on two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington is that we know so little about the very private celebrity, but GQ interviewer Michael Hainey changes all that with a story that finds Washington revealing his feelings about the downward spiral of Whitney Houston, about the drug-addled past of his friend and fellow superstar Samuel L. Jackson and about why he guards his privacy so fiercely.
Washington, who co-starred with Whitney Houston in the 1996 remake of The Preacher's Wife, says Houston was not the diva her image had led us to believe she was.
Instead, she was a "sweet, sweet girl … a humble girl" who was done in by the "monster drug that got ahold of her," he says.
"You can't go back to that one. Nobody beats that. I look at people -- and I don't think I'm speaking out of line -- Sam Jackson, I've known for thirty-some-odd years, he was down at the bottom," Washington says. "And he came all the way back. And when he cleaned up, he never looked back. But he can't have that beer, because it might lead to the tough thing."
Of Houston, he says, "Maybe she thought she could have one. And then the next thing you know, her body was betraying her. She didn't know that her body was aging quickly. She couldn't take it. Your body can only take so much. Some people survive (Hollywood and fame), and some people don't."
Washington, who next stars in the 2013 crime thriller 2 Guns with Mark Wahlberg and Edward James Olmos, also reveals that he made up with director Quentin Tarantino, with whom he had feuded about what he felt was Tarantino's racist film dialogue. In fact, Washington's daughter has a role in Tarantino's December drama Django Unchained.
Meanwhile, Washington, who also addresses everything from his thoughts on Obama, Romney and political affiliations to his memories of his parents' divorce and the movies he regrets turning down in the cover story, also explains why he isn't a frequent presence on TMZ.com and in the pages of US Weekly.
"Sidney Poitier told me this years ago: 'If they see you for free all week, they won't pay to see you on the weekend, because they feel like they've seen you,'" he says.
"'If you walk by the magazine section in the supermarket and they've known you all their life, there's no mystery. They can't take the ride.' My professional work is being a better actor. I don't know how to be a celebrity."
For the rest of the interview, check out GQ's October cover story with Denzel Washington.