John David Washington just got real about being compared to his father.
Despite managing to hit his stride in acting thanks to his roles in films such as Malcolm & Marie and Tenet, he learned years ago that he will always be known as Denzel Washington’s son.
While speaking with CBS Sunday Morning‘s Kelefa Sanneh in a new interview, the actor opened up about his famous father’s legacy and how he’s finally made peace with the celebrated actor’s stardom overshadowing his own career.
Washington always wanted to pursue acting but took up football as a way to make a name for himself.
During the interview, Washington shared that though he’s always been interested in acting, the idea of him following in his famous father’s footsteps was “intimidating.”
“My mother is an extremely talented artist, and my father is one of the greatest of all time. He’s my favorite actor,” Washington said.”It didn’t seem as simple to just pursue it.”
Instead of pursuing action, Washington decided to make his mark as a college football star at Morehouse College and, later, the United Football League.
“What motivated it, really, is independence — was my own name, was being able to carry my own weight in my life, even though I was hiding what I really wanted to do,” he shared. “It gave me an identity.”
Although he believed that football would give him an identity outside of his father’s, Washington still found that people identified him as “Denzel’s son.”
“I have to understand I could have the best game, career … the headline’s always going to be what it is. So to try to prove something to somebody is a fool’s errand,” he said in the interview. “I had a great game and [read] ‘Denzel’s son runs for this many yards and this many touchdowns. I realized then it was inescapable.”
The actor has learned that he cannot outrun his famous father’s superstardom.
Although he has managed to get several television and movie roles under his belt, Washington is aware that he still lives in the shadow of his father’s legacy, which he’s fine with.
“I don’t see it as a reality for me. He’s larger than life,” he said. “So no, I don’t think of it that way. I can’t.”
Watch the full interview below: