Katie Couric recalled a 2004 Dateline interview with Denzel Washington that did not sit well with her.
The NBC News and Today Show alum appeared this week on the Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino podcast, where she was asked about uncomfortable experiences interviewing politicians and celebrities over the years.
The veteran journalist mentioned Washington. She said he was promoting his remake of The Manchurian Candidate, along with co-star Meryl Streep and director Jonathan Demme, at the time. Couric said things got tense when the subject of politics came up.
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She recalled asking, “Denzel, are you, do you feel, you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting?”
In his response, according to Couric, Washington replied, “I don’t know what Hollywood folks are first of all.” He added, “Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don’t know anybody there.”
Washington went on to explain to Couric that “I’m not Hollywood folk. I don’t know who they are.”
While she tried to reframe her question, including asking: “Are you an actor who would rather not…,” she said, Washington quickly cut her off, and the interview became more intense.
“No, I’m not that either,” he said. “I’m a human being. My job is acting.”
She also asked the movie star if he preferred to keep his political views private, adding: “Don’t make my questions loaded when they’re not.”
“Would I rather keep it private? No, I’m not one of those people,” he said. “I think I speak what’s on my mind.”
Couric says the experience was “uncomfortable.” She also claimed Washington “totally misconstrued a question I asked and kind of jumped all over me.”
The Emmy-winning journalist told Pellegrino, “I don’t think I said anything wrong… and I don’t know what happened.”
Couric chalked it up to Washington having a bad day. “I love him, I admire him so much,” she said. “He’s one of my favorite actors but I remember walking out and feeling really kind of shaken that he had kind of gone after me in a way that was completely, weirdly uncalled for.”
Couric said the Oscar-winning actor later wrote a generous check to the colon cancer foundation she founded. So far, Washington has not commented on the matter.