Den­zel Wash­ing­ton’s se­cret life of Drugs & Booze

Fresh from the $35 mil­lion open­ing of The Equal­izer, Den­zel may be in a battle of his life with an ad­dic­tion that could ruin ev­ery­thing.

Mandate - - Cover Story -

Son of a preacher, a $15 mil­lion a film su­per­star and the lead­ing African Amer­i­can ac­tor of his gen­er­a­tion, it’s hard to think of some­one more ad­mired than Den­zel Wash­ing­ton in Hol­ly­wood to­day. His mar­riage has lasted 40 years in a town where di­vorce is the norm, and he has man­aged to keep his kids out of the spot­light and give them a nor­mal life, but now it seems like his clean cut im­age may have just been a façade. Den­zel spent the whole month of July par­ty­ing non- stop on his yacht off the coast of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Ac­cord­ing to In Touch Weekly, Den­zel was in such rough shape af­ter­ward that he stayed with a friend in Or­ange County to detox. Sources close to Den­zel have been say­ing for years that the ac­tor likes to drink un­til he passes out and that he also smokes an enor­mous amount of weed. It is also re­ported that the ac­tor has an out of con­trol co­caine habit. And, while he still man­ages to look good on cam­era, sources say that nor­mally the ac­tor looks ‘like hell, beaten and worn out.’

As ex­pected, Den­zel’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive tried his best to deny the al­le­ga­tion and in­stead stated that he was merely spend­ing time at his friend’s place un­der­go­ing a ‘ health cleanse’ and that ‘ he al­ways cleans up af­ter the fam­ily va­ca­tion.’ But, this cer­tainly wasn’t the first time that Den­zel faced drug re­lated al­le­ga­tions. An eye­wit­ness told In Touch Weekly, ‘I saw Den­zel do­ing co­caine sev­eral times be­tween 2008 and 2010.’ More­over, when Den­zel played a hard­core ad­dict in Flight, the crit­ics and the au­di­ences, both went wild prais­ing his per­for­mance. How­ever, those close to the ac­tor knew that he was sim­ply play­ing him­self.

Den­zel, for his part, is very con­scious of his im­age and makes it a point to avoid the party cir­cuit. He makes sure all his de­bauch­ery is in pri­vate, so it’s some­thing very few peo­ple know about. The source said, ‘He doesn’t go out and hit the town. He has his demons. It’s fright­en­ing to see him go down this path, and we only want what’s best for him.’

It’s still un­clear what demons Den­zel is bat­tling. But, it’s clear his wife Pauletta has had no luck in help­ing him to stay sober, which is why he turns to his friends when he tries to clean up his act. Pauletta has stuck by Den­zel for years de­spite his sub­stance abuse and re­ported ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs, first with his Out of Time co- star Sanaa Lathan and then with Paula Pat­ton, who he worked with on Déjà Vu. Some even think that it is his wife’s tol­er­ance of his ad­dic­tion and phi­lan­der­ing that en­ables the star to con­tinue his down­ward spi­ral. In an in­ter­view with Ebony mag­a­zine, Pauletta said, ‘I live with this man. I see the down

part. I see the sad part. I see ev­ery part. He has, and knows he has, sta­bil­ity in me as his wife. That’s what gives him strength, re­gard­less if he mis­uses it. I can’t dwell on that. But, I do know that gives him a great plat­form to go and fly.’

In a way, it’s ironic since Den­zel has been an in­spi­ra­tion for so many to rise above the drugs, crime and poverty of their neigh­bour­hoods and make some­thing of them­selves, but in an­other way, it’s as if his own past is fi­nally catch­ing up with him. In an in­ter­view with The Sun, Den­zel spoke about the life of drugs and vi­o­lence he es­caped in the Bronx. “Three of the guys I was hang­ing out with at the time did pri­son terms. I was not go­ing to school ei­ther and was just slowly head­ing to­wards the streets. A teacher at my school told my mother, ‘He is a smart kid—get him out of here.’’’ Two of his friends went on to serve time in pri­son, while the third died of an over­dose. Den­zel cred­its his mother for be­ing able to ‘see where I was head­ing’ and help­ing him find the right path to col­lege and act­ing school. ‘What would have hap­pened to me had it not been for my mother? I don’t know, but I would not be living this kind of life, that’s for sure,’ he added.

For all his per­sonal prob­lems, his pro­fes­sional life couldn’t be bet­ter. Rak­ing in a $35 bil­lion open­ing in the US, The Equal­izer proved that even at 59, Den­zel can pull off an ac­tion flick with the best of them. The Os­car win­ner re­cently par­tic­i­pated in Red­dit’s ‘Ask Me Any­thing’ chat to pro­mote the film and showed that he was still am­bi­tious and by no means ready to hang up his boots. When asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of play­ing James Bond, he was sur­pris­ingly game. Den­zel said, ‘The next James Bond? Yes, I would! Who’s do­ing James Bond now—Daniel Craig? Every­body should tweet Den­zel is James Bond! We start the Den­zel is Bond cam­paign to­day!’

While Den­zel and his fans seem en­am­oured with the idea of hav­ing the ac­tor play the first black James Bond, the sce­nario seems very un­likely. And, it’s not be­cause of his race or age, but mainly be­cause of his drug ad­dic­tion.

Hope­fully, there is still time for the ac­tor to pull up his socks and turn things around be­cause as one of the last few old school movie stars, he is in a unique po­si­tion to in­flu­ence peo­ple. More­over, it would be a clas­sic tragedy to lose such a tal­ent to drugs.

‘I LIVE WITH THIS MAN. I SEE THE DOWN PART. I SEE THE SAD PART. I SEE EV­ERY PART. HE HAS, AND KNOWS HE HAS, STA­BIL­ITY IN ME AS HIS WIFE. THAT’S WHAT GIVES HIM STRENGTH, RE­GARD­LESS IF HE MIS­USES IT”

— PAULETTA

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