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Why Malcolm From Malcolm & Marie Looks So Familiar

Ask anyone, and they'll tell you it isn't easy to break into Hollywood. Every year, countless people move to Los Angeles in the hopes of breaking out into the big time ... or at the very least, earning some royalties off of a commercial. It requires a lot of late nights, connections, and working at several different jobs just to pay the bills. 

However, it certainly helps if you happen to be the son of one of the most famous actors who's ever lived. John David Washington, the son of Denzel Washington, may have had an easier time landing roles thanks to its famous parentage, but over the years, his immense talent has proven that he's always had the goods to have been a successful actor based on skill alone. His resume dates back quite far, with minor roles in some of his father's films, like Malcolm X and Devil in a Blue Dress

After those films, though, it took a while for him to get back into acting. He actually played football while he was a student at Morehouse College, and after graduating in 2006, he was drafted onto the St. Louis Rams. He remained in the realm of professional sports for a while until an injury sidelined him, at which point he got back into his other passion — acting. Since then, he's gone on to star in many projects you likely recognize him from, including his most recent work, Malcolm & Marie, on Netflix. Washington has attained an impressive resume, and the future is looking mighty bright for the young star. 

John David Washington put his previous career to good use on HBO's Ballers

John David Washington didn't venture too far for his first acting role since the nineties. Following his departure from professional sports, the actor landed the role of Ricky Jerret on season 1 of HBO's Ballers. His character also played football in college (this time at the University of Southern California) and went on to play for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. As though the role was custom-made for Washington, Ricky Jerret also has a famous father in the form of former NFL player Dennis Jerret (Robert Wisdom). 

Ricky became a highlight of the series, perfectly embodying the cocky attitude of the player while still making him likable. Apparently, it wasn't easy finding an actor who could juggle both attitudes, as an article from Men's Journal details how the casting director saw numerous people for the part, but none of them were quite the right fit. That's when she looked to former NFL players, and just so happened to come across the son of a famous actor. 

Washington even spoke about the challenges of playing such a character, but he was able to use his time in the NFL to inform his decisions on Ballers. As he puts it, "What really attracted me to Jerret was the cultural misunderstanding of a guy like this. A lot of NFL guys are misunderstood. I felt like I had an opportunity to take a magnifying glass to why he acts like this, because of what he's dealt with and the kind of pressures he's under." Washington played the character through all five seasons of Ballers before it ended. By the time the show came to a close, the actor had already begun branching out into feature films. 

He earned even more critical acclaim thanks to a star-making turn in BlacKkKlansman

John David Washington's father, Denzel Washington, worked with director Spike Lee early in his career, on the critically-acclaimed Malcolm X. It only makes sense his son would follow in those footsteps, years later, with one of the best movies of 2018 — BlacKkKlansman

The younger Washington stars as Ron Stallworth, the first Black police officer to be hired by his department in 1972. Based on a real life story, Stallworth proceeds to infiltrate a nearby chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, acting like a white individual over the phone while his co-worker, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), poses as him during KKK meetings to attain more information. While the film is set decades in the past, Lee connects it to current events by illustrating how white supremacy has infiltrated various American systems, and it takes a lot more than just making a few racists look foolish to dismantle that.

In an interview with IndieWire, Washington spoke about what an honor it was to work with a director as prolific as Lee. The actor stated, "[Lee has] given us people of color such a voice, and by being a part of this film, I feel like I'm a part of history." Apparently, Washington didn't even need to audition for the role of Ron as Lee reached out directly to him to see if he'd act in the film. And when Spike Lee comes calling, you just can't say, "No."

John David Washington recently starred in 2020's Tenet

2020 was a strange year for movies. Most of the highly anticipated blockbusters, like No Time to DieBlack Widow, and Dune, were pushed into mid-to-late 2021, when hopefully the COVID-19 pandemic is more under control, and people once again feel safe going to a movie theater to unwind. However, there was one blockbuster that was determined to come out, no matter what — Tenet

Not only were expectations high for Christopher Nolan's latest time-inverting caper, but it also turned John David Washington into a bonafide action star. As the central character, "the Protagonist," he's tasked with preventing World War III, and to emerge successful, he'll need to bend the forces of nature to his whim to stop a man capable of communicating with the future. Yes, it's a lot to take in, but Washington as the smooth, suave lead helps make the twisty journey all the more engaging. 

It's clear Washington's career is just ramping up. After Malcolm & Marie, the actor can next be seen in the Netflix thriller Born to be Murdered. He's also joining forces with Margot Robbie and Christian Bale in director David O. Russell's upcoming untitled project (via Variety). With this much talent, it's clear Washington could someday become an even bigger star than his famous father.