AVALON PARK — Famed actor Denzel Washington stars in a popular new online video — but this time the Academy Award winner's role was a real-life, surprise visit to a South Side grandmother.
Over the weekend, Washington was looking for Leon's Bar's Bar-B-Q in the 8600 block of South East End Avenue — an area the New York native was familiar with from visiting relatives as a child. Washington saw people outside and stopped to chat. They told him that 86-year-old Juanita Hubbard was inside the house and a big fan.
The video captures Washington on Hubbard's front steps talking about what he remembered about the area. "I used to come here when I was 5, 6, 7 years old. Right up the block: 86th and Harper," he said.
Some of his cousins were Blackstone Rangers, a criminal street gang in Chicago that also earned goodwill among some for its social service outreach. His cousins, said Washington, would "pick out somebody my size to fight."
"They don't exist, Blackstone Rangers, anymore, right?" Washington asks. One of the people on the porch identifies himself as a member and later the actor says, "I'm 62, and I finally got back with the Rangers?"
He is introduced to a child, and Washington asks him "What's up little man? You don't know who I am, but they'll tell you one day."
Told they were going to watch a movie that night to show the boy, Washington says, "Don't watch 'Training Day,' now."
Washington won the Oscar in 2002 for best actor playing a corrupt police officer in the film, rated R for violence, language and drug use.
At another point, someone on the porch asks him, "Do you know how important [you are?]. We look up to you. You're a black statesman."
Washington responds, "I'm regular folk. I'm here, unafraid." He describes himself as "a God-fearing man" who "was raised right."
"I did a lot of wrong. But I got it together," he says.
Hubbard can be seen holding Washington's arm, telling him, "I'm not going to let him go."
Hubbard told ABC7: "I saw this tall, handsome young man walk up on steps. I said, 'Dear God, my blessing has been answered.'"