Forget Awards — Denzel Washington Just Wants to Be a Force for “Unity”

ABC/Heidi Gutman(LOS ANGELES) — First-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner Denzel Washington told Good Morning America that he was “surprised” at being honored Sunday night as Outstanding Lead Actor. He had assumed that Casey Affleck would take home the award after he won the Golden Globe for his role in Manchester by the Sea.

“Somewhere during the evening I started thinking, ‘You better think of something just in case,'” Washington said.

However, he admits, “It was a shock, it really was a shock.”

The 62-year-old actor won the SAG Award for his role in Fences, which he also directed. He said that, while it felt good to win, his goal has shifted over the years to lifting up others.

“I’ve won every award you can win,” Washington told GMA. “At this part of my life I’m here to support others and see them do well. That’s why the most important thing to me was…taking care of the other actors.” He did just that: his co-star Viola Davis is racking up the trophies for Fences, and is considered a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actress by many come Oscar night. 

Washington added that turning 60 made him realize that “this isn’t dress rehearsal, this is life,” and he wants to make everything count.

“You’re never going to see a U-Haul behind a hearse,” Washington told GMA. “You can’t take it with you … So what are you going to do with what you have?”

He said he’s now focused on being a positive influence on the world and the people around him.

“There’s so much division in the air right now,” he said. “To be some kind of a force for unification, for unity, that’s what I’m all about.”

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