What do you get Denzel Washington for a gift when he swings by your late-night show? The guy’s already got a couple of Oscars, a Tony, three Golden Globes, and was longtime pals with the late Sidney Poitier. (“I heard Sidney Poitier curse,” a scandalized Washington told Jimmy Kimmel on Monday of the two legendary actors frequent hangout sessions.) And, sure, if the Academy wants to toss Denzel another Best Actor Oscar for The Tragedy Of Macbeth, that would be only just and right. (Washington should have two Best Actor Oscars already, but we don’t need to get into the whole Malcolm X/Scent Of A Woman debacle again here.)
Kimmel, deciding that his illustrious guest would like something heartwarming and irreplaceable as a thank-you-for-guesting gift, dug deep into the often tumultuous and troll-infested waters of the internet and came up with something lovely for a change. With a 2017 viral video of the actor dropping by a Chicago neighborhood resurfacing recently, Kimmel surprised Washington with a remote appearance by the video’s real star, the then 87-year-old Juanita Hubbard. In the video, Hubbard is shown clinging onto Denzel’s arm, proclaiming happily, “I’m not gonna let him go!” after the actor chilled out with a crowd of equally happy neighbors on her stoop.
Washington, who’d been looking for a long-ago rib joint from his youth when he became the Chicago neighborhood’s object of boisterous adulation, was shown in the clip telling a baffled but friendly little kid named Theo, “What’s up, little man? You don’t know who I am, but they’ll tell you one day.” Nobody had to tell Hubbard, who even name-dropped Kimmel in the years-old clip, before laying claim to the visiting superstar. Washington was tickled to see Hubbard again on Monday, as the now 91-year-old Chicagoan appeared on Kimmel’s trusty pandemic interview screen and proclaimed that she even wore the same lovely floral blouse so that Washington would remember who she was.
As if anyone could forget. The spry nonagenarian (who proudly revealed her age to Kimmel’s audience, lest anybody think we’re being rude) happily regaled national TV with the tale of how she’d been waiting on a new fridge when her daughter claimed that Denzel Washington was on their porch looking for directions. “I don’t know how he got up on the porch that quick,” said Hubbard (identified as Juanita “Mother” Hubbard by Kimmel’s chyron), “It’s like an angel just flew up.” Angel he may have been, Washington still caught some shade from Hubbard, who said of the abashed Denzel, “I never heard from him since then.”
Shame on you, Denzel. Well, perhaps a dinner date of ribs is in order, as the Chicago eatery Washington had been looking for on that fateful day, Leon’s BBQ (which had closed down at the time), actually reopened thanks in part to the viral fame of Washington and Hubbard’s first meeting. As for Hubbard (who, indeed, told Washington to “remember Mother Hubbard”), she promised to watch both The Tragedy Of Macbeth and Washington’s recent directorial effort, A Journal For Jordan as soon as she gets around to it.