At one point in his career, Denzel says he entertained the thought of becoming a preacher, like both of his mother's parents. When he approached his pastor with the idea, he got a surprising reaction. "He said, 'No, no, you're doing good right where you are,'" Denzel says.
"I have always looked at what I do not as preaching, but maybe my pulpit is the roles that I played. I looked at the spiritual evolution of those characters like Reuben 'Hurricane' Carter, Malcolm X and Steven Bieko. Even in Training Day, the first thing I wrote on that script was 'The wages of sin is death.'"
When he goes into character, especially in particularly intense scenes, Denzel says he always prays for strength. Before filming the famous scene in Glory in which he gets whipped, Denzel says, he knew there was only one way to make it through.
"People ask me, how did you prepare? I say I prayed. I got on my knees ... and I prayed to all the spirits. I said, 'Look, fellas, ladies'—I'm talking about those who had been whipped—'I'm just rolling with you all. Just whatever happens, I'm going. Are you with me?'" Denzel says. "And I went out there and what hit me was that I'm in charge."