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The Internet Is Debating Whether Denzel Washington Or Will Smith Are Better Actors, And It’s Not Even Close



(Image credit: Gran Via Productions/Westbrook Studios)

We’re lucky enough to be alive at the same time as two of the best actors ever. The Little Things’ Denzel Washington and King Richard star Will Smith have both given us so many unforgettable performances that it’s hard to know where to begin when you talk about either of their careers. In that way, it might seem a little unfair to compare them — but compare them, the Internet will. A recent debate over who is the better actor recently unfolded on Twitter, and according to fans there, it’s not even really a debate. 

Both Denzel Washington and Will Smith have delivered some of the best performances of their careers over the last couple of years. Most recently, Will Smith has been earning rave reviews for his performance in King Richard, a biographical drama about Serena and Venus Williams’ father. Shortly after the film was released, a Twitter user asked a bold question to his followers: 

Denzel Washington or Will Smith?Who you got? pic.twitter.com/lJ7YYW2MTFNovember 21, 2021

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The debate itself could be controversial. After all, the trajectory of both actors’ careers has been very different. Will Smith began as a hip-hop artist and then transitioned into acting as a sitcom star before establishing himself as a blockbuster lead. Denzel Washington got his start in theater, then also got his big break on TV while simultaneously laying the foundation for an impressive film career. 

Despite the differences, fans on Twitter didn’t have a difficult time determining who they believed was the more legendary of the two actors: 

Listen, I’m a fan of both, but this is not even really a legitimate discussion because one is Denzel Washington and the other is not. pic.twitter.com/LTDChm5hZWNovember 21, 2021

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Let’s take a step back and examine why it’s important that Denzel is Denzel: he has delivered some of the most powerful performances on-screen in our lifetimes. He has nine Academy Award nominations, and two wins — one for Best Supporting Actor in Glory and the other for Best Actor in the crime thriller Training Day. He is the type of actor who is just as convincing playing a football coach as he is doing Shakespeare and very few actors can say that. 

Another fan on Twitter approached the debate from a different angle: 

Just finished King Richard. When I watch Will Smith in movies I catch myself thinking it’s Will Smith *as* so-and-so. When I watch Denzel Washington, I see whoever he’s portraying. Never catch myself recognizing the actor behind the character. Respect 4 both tho.November 21, 2021

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While this may seem like it’s downplaying Will Smith’s talent, it’s also a testament to his overall star power that he is so recognizable to us. Smith’s own career achievements are nothing to scoff at, either — he has two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor to his name — one for Ali and one for The Pursuit of Happyness. He also has nine Grammy nominations and three wins, which is a testament to the versatility of his appeal. 

Maybe this fan put it best when they tried to size up the two actors’ irreplaceable contributions to Hollywood: 

Given that neither Denzel Washington or Will Smith seem to be slowing down any time soon, it’s not impossible to imagine them teaming up in the future. For now, both actors have more in store for us soon. Denzel Washington will star in Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth and Will Smith is set to appear in Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation

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