Denzel had advice for Ethan Hawke after Training Day Oscar loss

Last Updated on May 3, 2024

Hawke Training Day

King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on Denzel Washington but he did have something on Ethan Hawke on Oscar night 2002, when Hawke lost Best Supporting Actor for his remarkable performance in Training Day. But without his co-star, Hawke might have been plenty more devastated than he was allowed to be.

Appearing on Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? (via Variety), Ethan Hawke remembered that Denzel Washington had some sage wisdom after he lost to Iris’ Jim Broadbent. According to Hawke, Washington told him, “‘It’s better that you didn’t win. Losing was better…You don’t want an award to improve your status. You want to improve the award’s status.’ That’s the way he thinks…The Academy Award has more power, because Denzel has a couple. It didn’t elevate who he was.” Washington would go on to win Best Actor later that night, which we’d still have to think is a nice boost…

No doubt Washington “improved” the status of both the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories, as his Training Day win would make him just the second Black actor to win that award following Sidney Poitier’s victory almost 40 years prior. That night he also became the first Black actor to win two competitive Oscars, having previously won Best Supporting Actor for 1989’s Glory. But his career improvement can’t be ignored, as Washington’s first win would soon put him in collaboration with Spike Lee (who he’ll reunite with for a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low), while his second would further mark him as one of the most captivating figures the silver screen has ever seen.

While Ethan Hawke lost out on his first-ever Oscar nomination, he would return to the Academy Awards as a nominee three times so far: twice for writing Before Sunset and Before Midnight – making him one of the few people nominated for both writing and acting – and another go at Best Supporting Actor for Boyhood, losing that night to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash.

While Hawke has yet to win an Oscar, his first experience at the Kodak/Dolby Theatre was enough of a victory for him. Hawke, too, still respects his Training Day co-star, comparing working with him to seeing Babe Ruth at work both mentally and physically.

Where does Ethan Hawke’s performance in Training Day rank in his all-time best? Drop your ranking in the comments section below.

Source: Variety

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.