Denzel Washington is one of the most renowned and beloved actors of our time. The Academy Award winner’s career spans over four decades and includes over four dozen roles in some of Hollywood’s most critically acclaimed films. Still, despite his visibility and popularity, fans have been mispronouncing his name all these years.
The 67-year-old made the correction in a resurfaced clip from his January 2013 appearance on BBC’s “The Graham Norton Show.” Comedian KevOnStage shared the interview on his TikTok page, where Washington told host Norton that his name was “actually Denzel” pronouncing it “Denzul.”
When asked if his dad went by the familiar fan-pronounced “Denzel,” the award-winning actor explained that his dad’s name was “Denzul” too. Washington — who is actually Denzel Washington Jr. — shared that his mother, Lennis Washington, began calling him by the pronunciation fan are familiar with to avoid confusion in their household.
“Actually, it’s what? Denzul? Who Denzul? Denzul? It’s Denzel, man, come on, man,” KevOnStage said in mock exasperation in the video clip before sharing what he believed led to the longtime “mistake.”
“That’s probably what happened. Denzul Washington Jr. and his father Denzul Sr. probably got tired of correcting Black folks who’ve decided it was Denzel,” before adding, “and the funny thing, everything sounds funny when your name is Denzul.”
“They tried to kill my wife, is something Denzel says, but not Denzul,” the funnyman continued, referencing Washington’s role as Frank Lucas in the 2007 crime drama film “American Gangster.” He added, “Denzul don’t talk that way. And all these little Black boys around the world who is named Denzel — y’all is Denzuls oo! Cause ya mama named you after Denzul Washington Jr. You is Denzul Jr. Jr.”
KevOnStage concluded his hilarious commentary by noting that “it’s still Denzel,” before adding, “But we love you though, Denzel.”
Fans also appeared hesitant to accept the new pronunciation, including one Twitter user who wrote, “A Den-zuhl sounds like something you get on your foot. I love LOVE Den-Zelle.”
Another person commented, “No way he has let Hollywood and all of America call him out his name all this time. No way!”
“To kinda quote the Mrs. from the “uno” video: “HIS MAMA DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAY HIS NAME EITHER!”
Fans can catch Denzul at the 94th Academy Awards Ceremony this weekend. The veteran star is nominated for Best Actor for his role as Macbeth in the Joel Coen-directed drama “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” The recognition marked Washington’s 10th nomination, making him still the most nominated Black actor in Oscar history.
Washington will face off against several seasoned vets, including Will Smith, Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Andrew Garfield. The ceremony airs this Sunday, March 27, at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC with co-hosts Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer.