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Denzel Washington Plays Alcoholic Airline Pilot

Flight features the Oscar-winner confronting the consequences of addiction.

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Washington lands a hefty role. Photo via

By May Wilkerson

10/24/12

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Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington plays an alcoholic, cocaine-snorting airline pilot in his new film, Flight, which premiered last night in LA. His character, who "lies, manipulates people, [and] drinks too much," successfully lands a plane in a storm and is revered as a hero—until it's discovered that he was heavily intoxicated during the landing. "He does try for the first two or three days right after the crash, to not drink," explains the actor. "Then when he finds out what the consequences are, he walks unfortunately right past a bar. One leads to 100." Washington hopes his character's struggles—which are hardly unknown among real-life pilots—will resonate with anyone touched by addiction, and "spark different conversation" from some of his other work. The film features recovery, too—both on and off the screen. The pilot's friend and drug dealer is a recovering heroin addict played by John Goodman, who reveals that alcoholism "is something I came to terms with five years ago, and with daily grace I'm still sober."

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