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For Washington, a happy dilemma

He's competing against himself thanks to nods for 'American Gangster' and 'Great Debaters.'

December 14, 2007|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

The jubilation in Denzel Washington's voice Thursday was unmistakable.

"Can you tell? I'm just happy all the way around," said Washington just hours after learning that two of his projects had scored key Golden Globe nominations. The two-time Oscar winner was nominated for best actor in a drama for "American Gangster," in which he plays real-life Harlem drug dealer and killer Frank Lucas, while "The Great Debaters," which Washington directed, was nominated for best film drama.

Said Washington, "It feels like the first time I was recognized for 'Cry Freedom.' It is a cliche, but it's true in this case -- just to be recognized is great."

Still, he's a bit torn by his two nominations. "This is a weird one -- I'm competing against myself. It's a real hard one to answer which one means more to me. Right now, it's 'The Great Debaters' because I'm right in the middle of it, promoting it."

"The Great Debaters," which stars Washington and Forest Whitaker, is based on the true story of a winning debate team from all-black Wiley College that became a national phenomenon during the Depression. "I'm on my way tonight to Marshall, Texas, for the premiere at Wiley," Washington said.

He added, "I'm happy for the young performers in the movie who have yet to be recognized. This nomination says everybody did a great job, and I'm so glad that this will give us a lift in a crowded field."

Washington said he was also pleased that "American Gangster" director Ridley Scott received a nod.

So would Washington prefer a Golden Globe for "The Great Debaters" or "American Gangster?"

"I just hope it's one of them," he said with a laugh. "Either one will be fine. I can't miss."


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