In this Sunday’s episode of TV One’s UNCENSORED, the 46-year-old talks about how the acting legend and wife Pauletta embraced him when he was trying to find his footing as an actor. It all happened though because of a bond he created with their son, “It” actor John David Washington. He could relate to the Tenet star because they both excelled in football before choosing to turn their focus to acting.
“I looked at him like a kid who was at Marist and that kid’s name was Omari,” he said of John David, and his own experience as a football star.
As he became closer with John David, he also grew close to Pauletta.
“She took me in like nobody’s business. She became my mom away from my mom,” he said of their relationship. “She became so much to me. We got super close.”
Inevitably, Hardwick ended up fitting in with the whole family, including the Oscar winner. They fully embraced him while he initially struggled to make waves as a burgeoning actor.
“I was broke and then Pauletta and Denzel eventually let me couch in their house,” he said. “Sometimes I would just be over there just for peace and spirit. Pauletta had such an incredible spirit and energy and John David and Katia, Olivia, Malcolm. Those are their twin kids. John David and I got super, super, super close. Still are to this day.”
Things would look up for him, as we know. Hardwick received his big break in the TV movie Sucker Free City directed by Spike Lee.
“I was all excited to go back to them with that news that Sucker Free was something that was going to make it where I didn’t need to borrow money from them anymore,” he said. “And I never did, but they definitely gave me $1500 when the car was about to be repoed.”
Washington is known for lending a helping hand to future stars like Hardwick, including This Is Us actress Susan Kelechi Watson and the late Chadwick Boseman. He helped pay for both actors to study acting abroad at Oxford for a summer when they were both students at Howard University.
“I’m happy to say he paid for my scholarship to go and we went and had this amazing summer that changed all of our lives,” Watson said during a Live! With Kelly and Ryan interview in 2018. “I saw Mr. Washington at some occasion years later and I said, ‘Excuse me Mr. Washington, you paid for my scholarship to go,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, you’re welcome.'”
Boseman said when he finally got to meet Denzel and thank him, the star responded with a joke.
“He was like, ‘I haven’t met you yet,'” Boseman recounted. “And I said, ‘I gotta tell you something. You paid for me to go to school.’ He said, ‘So that’s why I’m here? You owe me money! I came to collect.'”
You can learn more about Hardwick’s connection to the Washingtons when his UNCENSORED airs Sunday, October 18 at 10 p.m. (EST) on TV One.