Mel Gibson, you might want to take a break from hiding out in your Malibu manse (must be boring not being able to go out and get drunk on PCH like you used to!) and listen to a job offer. Another fallen Hollywood star wants to work with you!
But let's back up first. Our intrepid Chicago Tribune reporter pal Mark Caro just happened to see Isaiah Washington on a Frank Lloyd Wright tour in Chicago recently, and like the good journo he is, did an impromptu interview with the infamous T.R. Knight nemesis.
What did Isaiah have to say for himself after all this time? And why is he feelin' all warm and fuzzy for Mel?
"At the time it was very painful, embarrassing, humiliating," Washington says of his Grey's fiasco. You'll remember he was fired from the hit show following a homophobic outburst directed at Knight. "I was distraught. I was nervous. I didn't know what my future was going to be economically because I was being taken to task for something that I apologized for, and it never stopped, and I realized I was a part of a much larger political agenda."
Washington feels his departure was not just due to his politically incorrect big mouth, but his skin color: "Dr. Burke [Washington's character] was Barack Obama before Barack Obama, particularly in the world of the black community...I said my days are going to be numbered, because a lot of people are going to be unhappy about that, because my character wasn't really supposed to be as prominent as he became."
And Caro wanted to know, who exactly was so unhappy? People from the show or outside it?
"Both," answered Isaiah, who's now 47 and sports and salt-and-pepper goatee. "But those people are no longer there. The ones that had the biggest concerns about my character, what I wore, what I said, what I did, ended up leaving shortly after I did."
Washington acknowledged to Caro that this was a direct reference to Knight, who left two seasons after Washington, and to Katherine Heigl. Heigl, in case you don't remember, was Knight's good friend and his staunchest defender (as well as one of Washington's harshest critics) at the time of the reported falling out. Heigl herself left last year, with her own infamous reputation—only this one was for big-ego-itis. Heigl, who had sugarplum visions of being a big movie star was not exactly beloved by her Grey's colleagues.
But back to Washington, who has a beef: He thinks stars such as Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen have been treated differently for their bad decisions: "I wasn't given the same benefit of the doubt," he complained to Caro. "But you know what's strange, though? I would still work with Mel Gibson!"
Washington announced this fairly stunning declaration not only with a laugh, but with seriousness. "[Gibson's] a talented, man! Come on, he came up with Apocalypto, man! I want to work with this guy. I've worked with Steven Seagal. He's out of his mind. I mean, I've worked with Spike Lee for four films. I've worked with some people that you can say are right there teetering between genius and madness. So I don't look at their personal stuff."
But apparently, Charlie Sheen borders a tad too much on the madness side.
When Caro queried whether Washington would consider a Two and a Half Men gig, Isaiah demurred, proclaiming, "I will say this on record: I'm not a fan of that behavior," in reference to Sheen's repeated meltdowns.
Good to know Mr. Washington has standards. Too bad they weren't around a few years ago.