Birthdate: July 28, 1984
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
John David Washington (birthname: John David Washington) has established himself as one of the most talented athlete-turned-actors of his generation. He first had a taste of the movie-acting life as an eight-year-old when Spike Lee cast him as an extra in a Harlem school scene in Malcolm X (1992), and then as an eleven-year-old in Carl Franklin’s version of Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), starring Washington’s father, Denzel Washington.
During his pro football career, Washington also had a co-producer credit on another of his father’s movies, the Hughes Brothers’ The Book of Eli (2010). But these were minor forays into the movies; Washington’s true film debut was in 2017, in a supporting role in director RZA’s rap musical drama, Love Beats Rhymes, starring Azealia Banks, Lorraine Toussaint, Jill Scott, and Common, and released by Lionsgate.
In only his second feature, John David Washington nabbed the starring role—with co-stars Anthony Ramos and Kelvin Harrison Jr.--in writer-director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s feature debut, Monsters and Men (2018), a fictionalization of the killing of Eric Garner which premiered at the Sundance film festival and was released by Neon.
John David Washington’s breakthrough role—opposite Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Alec Baldwin, and Harry Belafonte--was undercover cop Stallworth in Spike Lee’s acclaimed KKK drama, BlacKkKlansman (2018), which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Lee and went on to earn over $93 million worldwide. Washington joined the supporting cast of writer-director David Lowery’s affecting crime drama, The Old Man and the Gun (2018), starring Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Sissy Spacek, and Keith Carradine.
In a remarkable career leap, John David Washington scored the lead as a determined CIA agent in Christopher Nolan’s Byzantine, visually complex sci-fi thriller, Tenet (2020), with Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. The film made history as the first wide-release studio film to be released in cinemas following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, ultimately earning nearly $364 million worldwide.
Washington joined Zendaya for a two-hander—the first to be written, financed, and produced during the pandemic—by writer-director Sam Levinson, Malcolm & Marie (2021), once again earning Washington rave critical reviews. Washington’s next was in pure action mode, premiering at the Locarno Film Festival: Beckett (2021), directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and co-starring Boyd Holbrook, Vicky Krieps, Alicia Vikander, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
In Amsterdam (2022), writer-director David O. Russell’s comedy-mystery for 20th Century Studios, Washington headed a starry ensemble, including Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro.
Working with writer-director Gareth Edwards in sci-fi mode, John David Washington led a notable ensemble in 20th Century Studios’ True Love (2023), co-starring Gemma Chan, Allison Janney, Ken Watanabe, and Marc Menchaca. Reuniting with dad Denzel, Washington co-starred in the role of Boy Willie opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Brooks, and Michael Potts in the film version of one of August Wilson’s most revered plays, The Piano Lesson (date to be announced).
John David Washington was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley community of Toluca Lake in Los Angeles by actor-father Denzel Washington and actor-mother Pauletta Washington. His younger sister is Katia, and his younger twin sister-brothers are Olivia and Malcolm.
Washington attended and graduated from Campbell Hall School in 2002, and then graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006. After lettering in football, basketball, and track at Campbell Hall, Washington earned a football scholarship to Moorhouse College, Washington signed in 2006-2007 as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams, which released him after three months, but then promptly re-signed him for the team’s practice squad. Washington then signed with the Dusseldorf-based NFL Europe team Rhein Fire, which ceased operation in 2007.
Washington played as running back with the UFL franchise, the California Redwoods (later renamed the Sacramento Mountain Lions), until the end of the 2011-2012 season, when the league ceased operation, and Washington retired from pro football. He has no children. His height is 5’ 9”. Washington’s estimated net worth is $8 million.
What’s In A Name?: John David Washington considers “John David” to be his complete first name and dislikes being referred to as “John.” This is despite the fact that his alias in college was “Johnny.” His reported nickname is “JD.”
Record Holder: Washington holds the Moorhouse College football record for rushing yardage for a single game (242 yards) and career (3699 yards).
Early Learner: John David Washington has described how he was introduced to Shakespeare when he was four years old and fell in love with the language.