The veteran US news anchor said that Washington reacted in a manner that was “weirdly uncalled for”, after she asked about celebrities talking openly about politics in 2004.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
“I don’t think I said anything wrong, I don’t know what happened,” Couric told the Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino podcast. “I love him. I admire him so much, he’s one of my favourite actors, but I remember walking out feeling kind of shaken that he had gone after me in a way that was completely weirdly uncalled for.”
Speaking to Washington in 2004 during promotion for his political thriller The Manchurian Candidate, Couric asked the Oscar winner if he agreed with the claim that “Hollywood folks should stick to acting”.
“I don’t know what Hollywood folks are, first of all,” Washington replied. “Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don’t know anybody from there … That’s like calling you a ‘type’ of folks. I’m not a Hollywood folk. I don’t know who they are.”
“OK, all right, well, let me rephrase the question,” Couric said. “Are you one of those people that – ”
Washington then interrupted, saying: “Ah, there you go. ‘Am I one of those people?’ Hmmm, isn’t that interesting?”
After Couric attempted to explain her question, Washington said: “No, don’t stop. I heard what you just said. ‘Am I one of those people?’ No, I’m not.”
Couric rephrased her question again, asking, “Are you an actor who would rather not – ”, but Washington interrupted her again.
“No, I’m not that either,” Washington said. “I’m a human being. My job is acting.”
Couric told Pellegrino that Washington later “wrote a big cheque” to her colon cancer foundation, potentially as an apology, adding: “I think he must have been having a really bad day.”