updated 05/09/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/09/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Too skillful to be judged by skin-deep virtues, Washington lands parts despite scripts that call for white actors. "White or black. Who cares?" said Julia Roberts, who handpicked the preacher's son to be her Pelican Brief costar. "I wanted the best man for the role." Now shooting the mystery Devil in a Blue Dress with Jennifer (Flashdance) Beals, the very private actor spurns the Spago scene to stay close to his wife of 11 years, Paulette, and their four children. To what does he ascribe his paucity of pretensions? Perspective. "My mother," he once said, "helped over the years by telling me, 'It ain't brain surgery that you're doing.' "