Katie Couric couldn’t deal after an interview with Denzel Washington caught her off guard.
The famed TV personality sat with Washington and Meryl Streep back in 2004 when the actors were on a promo run for their remake of The Manchurian Candidate. The film is a psychological, political thriller that follows a congressman-turned-vice president hopeful who’s being manipulated and controlled by a powerful corporation. Naturally, Katie’s questions veered on the political side, but her phrasing was upsetting for Washington, who immediately corrected her. Recalling the tense moment in a new interview for the Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino podcast , she says she felt “shaken” by the exchange.
Saying Washington might have been having a bad day, Couric commented during the podcast: “He’s one of my favorite actors, but I remember walking out feeling kind of shaken that he had gone after me in a way that was completely … weirdly uncalled for.”
Here is the transcript from the 2004 interview, written by Katie Couric, for NBCNews.com:
Couric: “Denzel, are you– do you feel– you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting.”
Washington: “I don’t know what Hollywood folks are, first of all. Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don’t know anybody from there. So, I don’t– that’s like saying– calling you a type of folks. I’m not a Hollywood folk. I don’t know who they are.”
Couric: “Okay, all right, well, let me rephrase the question. Are you one of those people that—”
Washington: “Ah, there you go. Am I one of those people? Hmmm, isn’t that interesting?”
Couric: “Oh, stop, stop, stop.”
Washington: “No, don’t stop. I heard what you just said. “Am I one of those people?” No, I’m not.”
Couric: “No, are you an actor who would rather not—”
Washington: “No, I’m not that either. I’m a human being. My job is acting.”
Couric: “Okay, are you somebody who would rather not express his political views publicly? I mean how do you feel about that? Some people are more outspoken than others. And what I meant, are you one of the people who would rather keep it private? Don’t make my questions loaded when they’re not.”
Washington: “Would I rather keep it private? No, I’m not one of those people. I think I speak what’s on my mind.”
Couric: “And how do you feel about the current political situation?”
Washington: “You know, I haven’t seen ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ because I live in America. I grew up here. I’m an ex-slave. I’m a result of what this country can do. So it’s nothing knew to me. I’m not surprised at all. It’s just business as usual. What I want to talk about is, what are we doing right now, today, for these young kids that are coming home? Are we embracing them? I don’t hear about them being lifted up. I mean, I’m not just talking about a parade but—”
Couric: “Are they getting the support they need.”
Washington: “Are they getting the support and love they need from us? And maybe that story’s being told, but I sure haven’t seen it that much in the news. Yeah, they’re pointing fingers about who was right and whose wrong and who started what and where the weapons of mass destruction. But these kids are coming home.”
Seems to us Washington, a Black man, simply didn’t want to be pigeonholed as “Hollywood folk” (or any other kind of folk, for that matter) during a conversation about politics. But let us know your thoughts on how he and Couric handled the exchange.