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‘You Better Bring Your A-Game’: Corey Hawkins Reveals How Working with Denzel Washington Pushed Him to Rise to the Occasion as an Actor

Actor Corey Hawkins is steadily making a name for himself in Hollywood after securing several noteworthy films in a just a few short years. 

Hawkins first caught the attention of moviegoers with his breakout role in “Straight Outta Compton,” where he played rap group N.W.A’s Dr. Dre. From there the Juilliard-trained actor found standout roles in “Kong: Skull Island,” “The Walking Dead,” “In the Heights,” and now the monochromatic film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” starring opposite one of his idols, Denzel Washington

(L) Corey Hawkins talks about working with his “hero” Denzel Washington. Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage, Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Working alongside the veteran actor is a dream come true for many in the film industry. But for Corey, not only can he boast about working with the legend, but he is also among Hollywood’s group of future leading men who can call Washington a mentor. 

“I’m incredibly grateful to that man,” Hawkins, 33, said this month on “Variety’s Awards Circuit” podcast while speaking of his experience on the set of “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” which is slated for a Christmas Day release. 

“I’ve known him before this, but to actually share a screen with him, to actually share a space, to sit down in his dressing room and just talk, pray, listen you know just talk sports whatever, you know to actually know the man that’s the thing to me that — you they say never to meet your heroes but to finally dispel that rumor, man, ’cause he is the greatest of all time.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24: (L-R) Corey Hawkins, Denzel Washington, and Frances McDormand participate in the Q&A at the opening night screening of The Tragedy Of Macbeth during the 59th New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on September 24, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

He continued, “I love that I get to walk in his footsteps, but I know I can never fill that man’s shoes.” Hawkins explained that working With Washington means being prepared for the unexpected and having a willingness to grow in their craft. 

“He keeps surprising not only himself but obviously everybody else. First of all, you better bring your A-game with working with D. He doesn’t suffer fools and he comes ready to work, and you better come ready to work — you have a good time working as well, but for me this was a joy. I’m thankful to be on this path and to have him as a mentor.” 

Hawkins is not the only young actor to find guidance from the two-time Oscar winner. Earlier this year Michael B. Jordan said joining forces with Washington was a no-brainer for the romantic drama “Journal for Jordan.”

“Being directed by Denzel, it’s like you had a master class at everything,” Jordan proclaimed. “He shows up every day to work to give it his all. He leaves with nothing in the tank, so you’ve got to match that energy and that drive. So it definitely pushed me to do more.”

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