Denzel Washington is up for an Academy Award this Sunday night for his portrayal of a booze-swilling, drug-addicted airline pilot in Flight. In an interview with The Guardian’s Xan Brooks, Washington said he avoided the Hollywood celebrity culture and just wanted to be known for the quality of his work.

“What’s a celebrity anyway?” he said. “Paris Hilton’s a celebrity. I’m just a working actor.” Washington is normally publicity-shy, but he has granted a few interviews amid the Oscar buzz.

He often refers to his religious scruples and the role they play in his life and work. For example, in Flight his character eventually cries out to God for help. “That line, ‘God help me,’ was very important to me,” Washington said.

“You see this … coke-sniffing, weed-smoking guy finally get[s] to the point where he can say: ‘God help me.’ He gets his life back.”

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