Denzel Washington returns to Broadway next year -- what should he do?
Earlier this month in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Denzel Washington let slip that he’s planning to return to Broadway “next year.” As for what show he’ll do, the actor gave the vague, “Don’t know yet.” The star, who’s in the hunt for his third Academy Award this year for his performance as a drug- and alcohol-addicted airline pilot in Flight, has starred in two hit productions on the Great White Way in the last decade: He played Marcus Brutus in a sold-out 2005 revival of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and then had a memorable turn as professional baseball player–turned–garbageman Troy Maxon in a 2010 revival of August Wilson’s Fences (the latter show won Tonys for both Washington and his costar, Viola Davis).
So what show should he do? Of course, I’d love to see him throw his clout behind a new play, but stars of his caliber tend to favor revivals. I have a few suggestions, but please weigh in with your own ideas in the comments section below:
• A Few Good Men — Aaron Sorkin’s breakout 1989 courtroom drama offers a juicy supporting role that seems tailor-made for Washington’s movie-star charisma: Col. Jessep, the character Jack Nicholson made famous in Rob Reiner’s 1992 film.
• Seven Guitars — Given his success with Fences, he might be tempted to do another one of August Wilson’s century plays. This big-hearted but underrated 1995 drama is set in the 1940s and centers on a just-out-of-jail blues singer named Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton.
• Othello — Though Washington got decidedly mixed reviews for Julius Caesar, it’s hard to deny the appeal of the Bard. At 57, Washington is probably old for Hamlet and arguably too young for King Lear (and he already starred in a 1990 Public Theater production of Richard III). Other hefty roles, like Macbeth and Falstaff in Henry IV, have seen strong revivals in the last decade (including Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth, in Rupert Goold’s innovative 2008 production). Added incentive: The tragic Moor hasn’t been on Broadway since James Earl Jones played opposite Christopher Plummer’s Iago in 1982.
• Same Time Next Year — And now for something completely different. How about re-teaming with Viola Davis for a revival of Bernard Slade’s hit 1975 comedy about an accountant and a housewife who have a chance-encounter affair and then agree to meet once a year even though they’re (mostly) happily married to other people? Charles Grodin originated the role on Broadway, and Alan Alda famously starred in the 1978 big-screen version. And it would be fun to see Washington in a lighter, comedic role for a change. (His last big-screen comedy? 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing.)
Follow Thom on Twitter: @ThomGeier