“There is no rehab for homophobia – that was just some crap being put out by the network,” Washington, 43, tells Newsweek of the treatment he received after using a homophobic slur during an argument with Grey’s costar Patrick Dempsey.
“I went into an executive counseling program which many people in this industry know about and go to. They knew what the program was but chose to call it what they wanted to fit their agenda. And more importantly, I volunteered for it because I wanted to understand my fight with Patrick and how it got out of hand like that.”
Washington says he even paid half the fee for his treatment, and adds: “I thought [ABC] sending me meant they actually wanted me to succeed and come out on the other end.” The network declined to comment for the story.
The actor also describes race as a factor in his downfall. During his fight with Dempsey, he says, “Someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me.”
On his subsequent firing: “I apologized and showed my remorse for what I said and for the pain I caused anyone. If a black man can’t get forgiveness in this country, when so many other people like Robert Downey Jr. and the governor of California get second and third chances … I think that says a lot about race and this country where we stand.”
Later in the article, he says: “It didn’t help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn’t a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that ‘some people’ were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I’m a 6’1″ black man with dark skin and who doesn’t go around saying ‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone?”
But the Newsweek article says Washington has a reputation in the film industry for lashing out at others, and points out that, several years ago, he had an angry confrontation with his Soul Food producer Tracey Edmonds (who is currently dating Eddie Murphy).
“I have a mind of my own and I do speak it when I feel it’s right,” he says. “In this business that’s considered being difficult and hard to deal with.”