Denzel Gives His Fans the Kiss-Off; His African-American Female Followers Hate to See His Screen Smooches with White Co-Stars, but Denzel Washington Won't Even Pay Lip Service to Their Jibes 58

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HE'S one of the sexiest actors in Hollywood, but not everyone finds the sight of Denzel Washington such a turn-on.

In fact, when the actor starts smooching with his co-stars, African-American women go wild - with rage.

During one of his most recent films, He Got Game, groups of women started booing, hissing and screaming at the screen.

The reason? Washington was kissing a white actress. And his hordes of black fans felt betrayed.

For some African-American women, the sight of "their man" kissing a white woman is like a dagger to the heart. It's a belief the actor himself wishes would go away.

He said: "I don't worry about it. I'm just playing a character. But people feel that I belong to them in a lot of ways."

Washington resents their implication that he's a traitor to his race. He added: "I've been married to a black woman for 20 years. I'm not a traitor. It's a character in a film."

Black director Spike Lee says audiences don't think of actors such as Wesley Snipes or Eddie Murphy in the same way - but Denzel is given a special status as a sex symbol, and as a black leading man in Hollywood.

Denzel just wants all the fuss to go away. He points out that he has kissed across racial lines before, with Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief - but the scene was cut.

And that occasion was not the first time his love scenes had ended up on the cutting room floor. He recalled: "I also had a kiss with Mimi Rogers in The Mighty Quinn which was cut because of audience reaction at the test screenings."

True to form, in Denzel's latest film, The Bone Collector, there are no love scenes with white co-star Angelina Jolie.

Denzel said: "The only group who doesn't object to inter-racial love scenes for me are white women.

"I refuse to be boxed in by my fans. I'm upset that they're upset, but I want to do romantic films and interracial love affairs are a fact of life."

He says that is why he has been so reluctant to go do racy love scenes.

He added: "I believe less is more. I'm a bit of an enigma. That's probably enhanced my image more than if I'd shed my clothes in every movie."

Although there are no love scenes in The Bone Collector, there is a hot bit of finger-stroking.

But this time there is a good reason for this - and it doesn't involve Denzel's his fears about cinema audiences.

The actor plays a police detective who becomes a quadriplegic. The only time you see this character on his feet is in the film's first few minutes in a flashback to an accident that leaves the cop bedridden. He can only move his face, his neck and the index finger of his right hand.

Confined to bed, he uses a rising star in the department, played by Jolie, to be his eyes, ears and legs in the investigation of a serial killer.

Playing a similarly restrained role in the movie Misery once drove Godfather actor James Caan to distraction.

Denzel, who had been in training for a year to play boxer Hurricane Carter for a film called The Hurricane, had to make an even more dramatic swap - moving from a punishing exercise regimen to an even more punishing regime of inactivity.

He recalled: "It was amazingly painful to be that immobile. …