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In 2012's "Flight," Denzel Washington plays a pilot who manages a miraculous landing, but then has to face charges that he had alcohol in his system while flying.
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Washington talks with host Jay Leno during a "Tonight Show" commercial break in October 2012.
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Washington attends a L.A. Lakers game in Los Angeles in 2012.
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Washington and wife Pauletta attend the "Safe House" premiere in New York on Feb. 7, 2012.
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Washington holds his trophy for "Best International Actor" during the 47th Golden Camera award ceremony in Berlin on Saturday Feb 4, 2012.
In 2012's "Safe House," Washington plays CIA agent turned killer Tobin Frost, who escapes an attack on the safe house where he was being held. He and agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) must go on the run.
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Washington speaks during the University of Pennsylvania commencement on May 16, 2011 in Philadelphia.
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Actress Anne Hathaway and Washington host the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway on Dec. 11, 2010. Artists from all over the world gathered at the Oslo Spektrum to help spread the message of peace and celebrate the year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dissident Liu Xiaobo.
20th Century Fox
In "Unstoppable," Washington plays a veteran engineer who tries frantically to stop a half-mile-long freight train carrying enough combustible liquids and poisonous gas to wipe out a nearby city. The film's title could apply to the actor himself,who has had a varied and rewarding career over his 25-plus years in show business.
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Washington appears at a Boys and Girls Clubs of America news conference on increasing high school graduation rates on Sept. 15, 2010 in Washington. The BGCA announced a plan to refocus its program strategy toward ensuring its members graduate from high school on time.
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Washington and Viola Davis pose with their Tony Awards, won for their acting in August Wilson's "Fences," on June 13, 2010 in New York.
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Actors Chris Chalk, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson (back row), Stephen McKinley Henderson (back row) SaCha Stewart-Coleman, Washington and Russell Hornsby take their bows after "Fences" opened on April 26, 2010.
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Washington and wife Pauletta arrive at the premiere of his film, 'The Book Of Eli,' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Jan. 11, 2010 in Hollywood, Calif.
In 2010's "The Book of Eli," Washington plays a solitary man walking across the wasteland that was once America -- and protecting a vital book that could save the world.
In 2009's "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," Washington plays a subway dispatcher in New York whose ordinary day is thrown into chaos when a train is hijacked.
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Washington shook hands with newly inaugurated President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, 2009, at one of Obama's 10 inaugural balls.
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Washington and his daughter Katia Washington present the best movie award onstage during the 18th Annual MTV Movie Awards on May 31, 2009 in Universal City, Calif. Washington is the father of four.
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Washington accepts the outstanding actor in a motion picture award for "The Great Debaters" during the 39th NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 14, 2008 in Los Angeles.
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Washington greets a group of children from the Boys & Girls Club of America while standing in front of a billboard of himself as a child in Washington on Sept. 17, 2008.
The Weinstein Company
In 2007's "The Great Debaters," Washington portrays Professor Melvin Tolson, a brilliant but volatile debate team coach who uses the power of words to shape a group of underdog students from a small African American college in the deep south into a historically elite debate team.
In 2007's "American Gangster," Washington played drug-kingpin-turned-informant, Frank Lucas, who worked with the law to expose crooked cops and foreign nationals involved in the heroin trade.
In 2006's "Deja Vu," Washington plays an ATF agent investigating a shattering crime who discovers that the feeling many people jokingly call "deja vu" may have more power than we think.
Washington played Detective Keith Frazier in 2006's "Inside Man," a crime drama directed by Spike Lee. A sequel is reportedly in the works as of 2010.
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Spike Lee and Washington take in a Los Angeles Lakers game in 2005 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The two paired up for some of Washington's most successful and highly praised films, including "Malcolm X."
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Jessica Hecht and Washington take a bow on the opening night of the play "Julius Caesar" on April 3, 2005 in New York City. Despite mixed reviews, the play continually sold out, certainly in no small part thanks to the actor's fame.
Washington also starred in the 2004 remake of 1962's classic, "The Manchurian Candidate." He plays a war veteran who suddenly begins to doubt his military memories.
20th Century Fox
In 2004's "Man on Fire," Washington plays a man hired to protec young Dakota Fanning from being kidnapped, and the unlikely duo take to each other.
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Washington and wife Pauletta attend the 75th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on March 23, 2003 in Hollywood, Calif. They met on the set of Washington's first-ever screen role, in "Wilma," and married in 1983.
In 2003's "Out of Time," Washington plays a small-town Florida police chief who finds himself swept up in murder and must clear his name.
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At the Oscars in 2002, both Halle Berry and Washington took home Oscars for leading roles, his for "Training Day," hers for "Monster's Ball." He was only the second African-American man to win the best actor Oscar, while Berry was the first African-American woman to win best actress.
New Line Cinema
In 2002, Washington starred in "John Q.," about a man who takes a hospital hostage when insurance won't cover his dying son's heart transplant.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Washington both starred in and directed 2002's "Antwone Fisher," about a man who must confront the painful abuse in his past.
It was for Washington's role in "Training Day" that he won his historic best actor Oscar in 2002. In a switch from his many heroic leads, he played a rogue LAPD cop with questionable law-enforcement tactics.
Walt Disney Pictures
In 2000's "Remember the Titans," a Disney film, Washington played a football coach at a newly integrated high school.
In 1999, Washington starred as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who was convicted of murder and spent 20 years in prison before having his conviction set aside. Washington's acting was praised, but the film's accuracy was criticized. Some say had it not been for the problems with the story, Washington could have won an Oscar for this role.
Washington worked again with director Spike Lee on 1998 basketball drama "He Got Game."
Washington starred with Whitney Houston and Loretta Devine in the 1996 film, "The Preacher's Wife," a remake of the 1947 film "The Bishop's Wife."
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1996's "Courage Under Fire," starring Washington and Meg Ryan, was one of the first films to depict the 1991 Gulf War. It uses a concept similar to the famed Japanese film "Rashomon," where characters recall the same events in wildly different ways.
Washington brought novelist Walter Mosley's character, Easy Rawlins, to life in 1995's "Devil in a Blue Dress." The film noir takes place in 1948 Los Angeles, where Rawlins, a World War II vet in desperate need of money, sets his mind on becoming a detective.
Washington teamed up with screen beauty Julia Roberts in 1993's "The Pelican Brief," based on the best-selling John Grisham novel.
In 1993's "Philadelphia," Washington plays a lawyer who takes the case of a gay lawyer, played by Tom Hanks, who is fired for having AIDS. Washington's character must fight his own homophobia as he tackles the case.
Washington and Spike Lee teamed up once again for 1995's "Malcolm X," with Washington starring as the black activist. One of Washington's sons is named Malcolm in honor of the assassinated leader.
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Washington's first son, John David Washington, seen here with dad in an undated photo, was born in 1984, and went on to become a college football star and join the NFL.
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Washington took home an Oscar for best supporting actor in 1989 for his role as a defiant ex-slave in the Civil War film "Glory."
"Glory" focused on the Civil War battle at Antietam and the formation of the first black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry.
In 1987's "Cry Freedom," Washington played murdered South African activist Stephen Biko. He was nominated for an Oscar for the role, but did not win.
In 1984's "A Soldier's Story," Washington took on his first big Hollywood role, playing an army private involved in a racially charged murder.
Before concentrating on movies, Washington played Dr. Phillip Chandler on TV's "St. Elsewhere" medical drama. Howie Mandel (curly hair, green scrubs) and Ed Begley Jr. (back left) were among the future stars in the cast.