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Why Denzel Washington had his sex scene cut from this movie

Denzel Washington made some changes to his '90s movie The Pelican Brief featuring co-star Julia Roberts, but he had a few very good reasons for doing so.

Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief

Denzel Washington knows his audience, and it was his fans that inspired him to cut a lewd scene from one of his best movies. While making The Pelican Brief in the ’90s, the star decided he didn’t want a particularly intimate moment, because of the potential reaction.

In the thriller movie directed by Alan J Pakula, Washington stars as a reporter, opposite Julia Roberts, who plays a law student. They become embroiled in an FBI conspiracy, and over the course of the film, they gradually get a little romantic. The plan was for them to kiss, and potentially more, but Washington had these moments removed.

According to a report from Newsweek, he had “several reasons” for this, but a major one was around the perception of Black women in films. A previous Denzel Washington movie, The Mighty Quinn, had the leading man kiss Mimi Rogers, which proved unpopular among Black women. Washington had that scene taken out after test screenings, and erred against similar roles from then on. “Black women are not often seen as objects of desire on film,” he explained. “They have always been my core audience.”

Funnily enough, the same piece reveals he hasn’t gotten much flack for altering The Pelican Brief, but Roberts has taken heat for a missed opportunity.

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“I have taken so much shit over the years about not kissing Denzel in that film,” she says. “Don’t I have a pulse? Of course I wanted to kiss Denzel. It was his idea to take the damn scenes out.” When you watch The Pelican Brief, and dislike that it isn’t the romance movie you’d hoped, you know who to blame.