Denzel Goes ‘Inside’ Yard

Oscar winner tours Harvard as a 'Candidate' for future films

Denzel Washington added a touch of “Crimson Tide” to Harvard yesterday.

The Academy Award-winning actor arrived on campus yesterday morning to look at possible sites for future films. Director of the Harvard Foundation S. Allen Counter and Robert P. Mitchell, the director of communications for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences led him on a tour around campus.

“He was looking at sites for future possible films,” Counter said. “He really admires the place.”

Counter did not specify which of Washington’s movies might be shot on campus.

Washington’s day began with a brief stop at one of the boathouses. The actor also spent part of his day in the Yard visiting the usual historic landmarks, including Sanders Theatre and Widener Library.

“He wanted to look at Widener, and I gave him a little bit of the history,” Counter said.

Later in the day, the actor visited the area around the Quad and the River.

“We spent time admiring the scenery from the other side—the Business School side—just looking at the beauty of it,” Counter said.

Washington’s trip was not publicized by the University because it was a “working day” for the actor, according to Counter.

But his appearance nevertheless generated a buzz across campus.

“You expect to see people during Hasty Pudding or Cultural Rhythms, but you don’t usually just see them wandering around the Yard,” said Elena I. Squarrell ’07, referring to the annual cultural events staged by Harvard students.

Counter added that many students struck up conversations with Washington during the tour.

“We stopped and met with many students,” he said. “It was just great. He was open to everyone.”

This wasn’t Washington’s first visit to campus. In 1996, he received the Harvard Foundation Award for his “outstanding contributions to American performing arts and intercultural relations,” and hosted the 11th annual Cultural Rhythms festival.

And last year, Washington’s daughter, Katia, was considering coming to Harvard before deciding to attend Yale, Counter said.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Washington is currently working on a film titled “The Great Debaters,” based on the story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas during the 1930s who trained a team of students that would defeat Harvard in the national debate championship.

—Staff writer Kevin Zhou can be reached at kzhou@fas.harvard.edu.