Denzel Washington Says He Experienced Racial Discrimination in Boston 30 Years Ago

At the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday, the Oscar winner recalled a time when he was called the N-word and presumed a pimp.

Lauded actor Denzel Washington filmed his new movie The Equalizer in the Boston area, and while we hope he had a good time filming here last year, during a press conference at the Toronto Film Festival this past weekend, he recalled a previous trip to the city that took a very ugly turn, reports the Hollywood Reporter.

According to THR, the conversation at TIFF turned toward Boston, and Washington told a story about how about 30 years ago, he and his wife were in town for a play Pauletta was in, and at their hotel, a group of people presumed the couple for a pimp and prostitute. The situation escalated into a fight and security was called.

Washington also said that while walking to his wife’s show one night, he was called the N-word.

“‘Hey n—, n—, n—, n—, hey boy.’ I was like, ‘Damn.’ That was the taste I had about Boston,” he said.

Washington also remembered being called the N-word in Florida as a child, and how his mother explained to him: “Oh, that’s just somebody worried about you taking their place.”

“It was like crabs in the bottom of the barrel. And in Southwest Boston, they were all right there,” he said. “They are at the bottom. So it was like, ‘We’re better than you.’ Yeah, so I came in [to Boston] with all those kinds of memories.”

Thirty years ago marks Washington’s previous Boston experience to somewhere in the mid-1980s, around his St. Elsewhere days. In 1989, Washington won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Glory. His second Oscar was for Best Lead Actor in Training Day (2001).

The Equalizer—in which Washington’s character Robert McCall fights crime in Boston—opens in theaters September 26.