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Isaiah Washington Is Making A Comeback (Oh, And He's A Chief in Sierra Leone)
After being fired from Grey's Anatomy in 2007 for leveling a homophobic slur against a colleague, Isaiah Washington has kind of disappeared. That's because, as he tells the NY Times, he's been in Sierra Lone, acting as a village chief.
He explains he's been known as Gondobay Manga II since 2006, where among other duties, he buys goats for the village. In 2005, he learned he was genetically linked to the Mende and Temne peoples of Sierra Leone, and has since become one of the country's biggest supporters. In 2008, he became an official citizen of the country that's mostly known for its brutal violence and "blood diamonds."
The actor sat down with the Times at Hal's Bar & Grill in Venice to discuss his comeback in a film about the 2002 D.C. snipers, called Blue Caprice, after the car that John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo drove.
In the film, he plays the older assassin, Muhammed. Tequan Richmond of Everybody Hates Chris plays Malvo. He almost didn't get the role, because he was that far out of Hollywood circles, he tells the Times. The director, Alexandre Moors, had been trying to contact him for months, but, Washington said, "I didn't have an agent, a manager, didn't want it." Fortunately for the actor, he was still on Facebook, which is how the director finally reached him.
Washington told HuffPost Live, "After the incident at the Golden Globes [in which he repeated a slur he'd made against co-star, T.R. Knight], everything just fell apart. I lost everything. I couldn't afford to have an agent...I couldn't afford to have a publicist...I couldn't afford to continue."
He said that in the wake of the scandal, "no one wanted to touch me."
So it's probably a good thing that Moors didn't know Washington from Grey's (and had likely missed the whole scandal) but from his work in the films Clockers and True Crime.
Blue Caprice (not to be confused with Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine) premiered to good reviews at Sundance and currently has a 92 percent positive rating on Rottentomatoes. Critic Manohla Dargis calls Washington "ferociously magnetic" in it.
Washington said that he's "moved on" from the Grey's scandal and that although "bigots want to embrace me, and I politely take their arms from around my neck. I don't share their views, never have," he tells the Times.
He said he's now working to spur economic development in Sierra Leone, as well as promote his upcoming movie Blackbird, a gay coming-of-age story, and his CW sci-fi series The 100.
The 50-year-old actor said he's grateful for where he is now in life: "I've been so incredibly blessed. I've worked with some of the greatest professionals in town. I stood at the Golden Globes," he said— although that was the site where it all fell apart for him.
"I worked with Sandra Oh, bro!" he continued. "My life has been great."
Blue Caprice opens today in New York, expanding to Los Angeles and San Francisco next Friday, September 20 and more cities the following weekend.