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13 times Denzel Washington played a cop

We all know “Training Day,” but how many of these other movies have you seen?

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Warner Bros.

By Police1 Staff

Award-winning actor Denzel Washington is known for his action-thrillers and civil rights dramas across a career spanning four decades. And while Washington has proved he has range, there is one genre he always seems to return to: the cop flick.

Washington has played a law enforcement officer 13 times in his storied career, according to The Detroit News. After shooting his most recent cop film, “The Little Things” released on Jan. 29, Washington reflected on lessons learned from real cops while researching his police roles.

“I have the utmost respect for what they do,” Washington said when asked about a police ride-along he took to prepare for “Ricochet.”

According to The Detroit News, the officer who took Washington on that ride-along all those years ago is Detroit’s own Chief James Craig. The pair went to the same church in Los Angeles and were connected through a mutual acquaintance.

“He was a real humble guy, who really wanted to understand his role,” Craig said.

Without further ado, here are the 13 times Washington has played a cop:

1. The Mighty Quinn (1989)

Washington plays Xavier Quinn, a police officer who finds himself in a tricky position after his childhood friend becomes associated with a murder. Quinn must now try to clear his friend’s name – or catch him.

2. Ricochet (1991)

In this thriller, former cop Nick Styles (Washington) is thrown back into police work when a convict he helped put away escapes. The convict (John Lithgow) exacts his revenge on Styles by trying to destroy the former cop’s new career as an assistant district attorney.

3. Virtuosity (1995)

This sci-fi thriller explores what happens when a virtual reality simulation – used to train police officers on the minds of serial killers – escapes into the real world. An ex-cop (Washington) is tasked with stopping the ensuing reign of terror.

4. Fallen (1998)

Homicide detective John Hobbes (Washington) witnesses the execution of a famed serial killer. But it’s not long after the execution that similar killings start again.

5. The Siege (1998)

Washington plays the head of the FBI’s Counter Terrorism Task Force in New York City amid a series of violent terror attacks. He teams up with a CIA operative (Annette Bening) to hunt down the terrorist cells responsible.

6. The Bone Collector (1999)

Washington plays a quadriplegic ex-homicide detective trying to track down a serial killer in New York City. His partner (Angelina Jolie) becomes his eyes and ears on the ground while Washington’s character investigates from his hospital bed.

7. Training Day (2001)

In arguably one of his more famous roles, Washington plays rogue LAPD cop Alonzo Harris, a veteran narcotics officer with dubious tactics. The movie follows Harris as he trains rookie Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) as Hoyt questions some of his mentor’s methodologies.

8. Out of Time (2003)

Florida police chief Matt Lee Whitlock (Washington) finds himself the suspect in a double homicide after his illicit lover and her husband turn up dead. Anxiety runs high for Whitlock as he scrambles to clear his name and figure out who has set him up.

9. Déjà vu (2006)

After a bombing in New Orleans, an ATF agent (Washington) joins an investigation using experimental surveillance technology. However, he finds himself becoming obsessed with one of the victims.

10. Inside Man (2006)

Washington plays Detective Keith Frazier in this bank robbery thriller. Frazier negotiates a high-stakes hostage situation after the criminal’s heist goes south.

11. 2 guns (2013)

Washington plays undercover DEA agent Robert Trench, whose assignment to bust a drug lord (Mark Wahlberg) goes south. The situation grows more complicated when Trench learns his mark isn’t who he says he is. Suddenly, the two men find themselves as fugitives on the run with no one else to turn to.

12. The Magnificent Seven (2016)

In this updated western, Washington plays a gun-slinging U.S. Marshal’s deputy who becomes the last hope of a small frontier town. Sam Chisolm (Washington) brings together a motley crew of six other hired guns to save the townspeople from the control of a greedy gold-mining tycoon.

13. The Little Things (2021)

In his latest film, Washington plays Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon opposite Rami Malek. Deacon is sent to Los Angeles on what should be a routine assignment, but instead he becomes entrenched in the hunt for a serial killer.


BlackkKlansman (2018)

No, Denzel Washington isn’t in this movie. However, playing Hollywood cops must run in the family because his son, John David Washington, leads in this Oscar-winning film. Based on a true story, Ron Stallworth (Washington) became the first Black police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1972. With the help of a fellow officer (Adam Driver), Stallworth goes undercover to infiltrate a local KKK chapter.