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Katie Couric Revisits Tense Denzel Washington Interview That Left Her "Shaken"

Katie Couric Revisits Tense Denzel Washington Interview That Left Her "Shaken"
April 29, 2020 - 22:14 / Lucas Anderson

Katie Couric has opened up about a past interview that left her "shaken." She says actor Denzel Washington misunderstood a question she asked, which led to a tense exchange. Get the full story below...

Katie Couric appeared on the podcast Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino earlier this week. During the episode, she recalled a 2004 interview with Denzel Washington that went awry.

Washington and Meryl Streep had visited Couric's NBC News program to talk about their 2004 film, The Manchurian Candidate. But things got tense, Couric said, after Washington "totally misconstrued a question I asked and kind of jumped all over me and it was so uncomfortable."

Katie Couric attends the 2017 Mirror Awards in New York City.

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The Katie Couric-Denzel Washington interview

During the interview, which was billed as "Manchurian Candidate Cast Talks Politics," Couric shifted focus to the topic of actors and their political beliefs. Specifically, she asked Washington for his take on the opinion held by some that "Hollywood folks should just stick to acting."

The question hit a nerve with the actor. "I don't know what Hollywood folks are, first of all," he began. "Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don't know anybody from there. ... That's like calling you a type of folks. I'm not a Hollywood folk. I don't know who they are."

Couric attempted to rephrase the question, beginning by saying, "Are you one of those people that—," before Washington interrupted her.

"Ah, there you go. 'Am I one of those people?' Hm, isn’t that interesting?" Washington asked rhetorically.

Denzel Washington

Couric attempted to defuse the situation, but Washington wasn't having it. "No, don't stop. I heard what you just said. 'Am I one of those people?' No, I'm not."

"I'm a human being. My job is acting," he added.

Couric recovered to completely refocus her question. "Okay, are you somebody who would rather not express his political views publicly?"

"Don't make my questions loaded when they're not," she added.

"Would I rather keep it private? No, I'm not one of those people. I think I speak what's on my mind," Washington concluded.

Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep in The Manchurian Candidate (2004).

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Katie Couric talks 2004 NBC News interview with Denzel Washington

Looking back on the interview, Couric recalled: "I just remember leaving it and thinking, 'God, I must have ... I don't think I said anything wrong, I don't know what happened.'"

"I remember walking out and feeling really kind of shaken that he had kind of gone after me in a way that was completely, weirdly uncalled for," she said.

Washington, it seems, felt that Couric's question used the language of those who suggest actors should be apolitical and withhold their beliefs - which appears to have provoked his testy response.

"Anyway, [Washington] must have been having a really bad day, because he later wrote a really big check to my colon cancer organization, which I thought was super sweet," Couric also told podcast host Danny Pellegrino.

You can view the full transcript of the 2004 interview here via NBC.