“I think he totally misconstrued a question I asked and kind of jumped all over me,” the veteran journalist said on the Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino podcast earlier this week.
Katie shared the story after the podcast’s host asked her if she ever conducted an interview in which she felt “bamboozled.”
The veteran journalist couldn’t immediately think of an interview in which she felt her subject wasn’t forthcoming, but the question did spark the memory of a very awkward 2004 Dateline interview with Denzel while he was promoting The Manchurian Candidate.
The Oscar-winning star played a war veteran in the political thriller who discovers that US soldiers are being brainwashed by the government.
Katie did not specify in the podcast which part of the interview she was referring to, but a transcript of their conversation includes a bumpy exchange in which she asked him if he agreed with the idea that “Hollywood folks should stick to acting” and not talk about politics.
“I don’t know what Hollywood folks are, first of all,” the actor responded. “Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don’t know anybody from there. So, I don’t … that’s like saying … calling you a type of folks. I’m not a Hollywood folk. I don’t know who they are.”
Katie then tried to rephrase her question by asking, “Are you one of those people that —”
Denzel then interrupted saying: “Ah, there you go. ‘Am I one of those people?’ Hmmm, isn’t that interesting?”
After Katie tried again to explain her question, Denzel answered: “No, don’t stop. I heard what you just said. ‘Am I one of those people?’ No, I’m not.”
Katie tried to rephrase a third time, this time asking, “Are you an actor who would rather not —,” but he cut her off again.
“No, I’m not that either,” he said. “I’m a human being. My job is acting.”
Reflecting on the experience on Monday’s podcast, Katie said she felt that she didn’t say “anything wrong” and doesn’t “know what happened”.
But she ultimately chalked it up to Washington’s having a bad day. She added that he later wrote a “really big” check to the colon cancer foundation she started.
“I love him. I admire him so much,” she said. “He’s one of my favourite actors. But I remember walking out and feeling really kind of shaken that he had kind of gone after me in a way that was completely, weirdly uncalled for.”
HuffPost reached out to Denzel for comment but did not receive an immediate response.