Isaiah Washington lost his role on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy when he used an anti-gay slur during an on-set altercation then later repeated it backstage at the Golden Globe Awards.
He also got a reputation for being a homophobe of the incidents in late 2006 and early 2007 – something he has always denied.
The actor, now 50, may finally be able to put the ugly incidents behind him with a role as the sympathetic dad of a gay teen in the new film Blackbird from Patrik-Ian Polk.
In the film, the teen is a talented singer who is struggling with his sexuality while living in a small Southern Baptist town.
Writer/director Polk is the man behind the LGBT-themed Noah’s Arc television series and feature film and Washington is producing the film with Polk and Carol Ann Shine, according to Deadline Hollywood.
Since those incidents in the fall of 2006 and in early 2007, Washington has gone from being one of the leads in a long-running TV hit to far lower-profile roles in little-seen films.
The trouble began when Washington had an on-set scuffle with co-star Patrick Dempsey during which Washington referred to co-star TR Knight as a ‘faggot.’
Knight, who is gay, was not yet out publicly but confirmed his sexuality in a statement as a result of the incident.
Then Washington made things worse by repeating the slur (during a denial) in front of the international press and all his castmates backstage at the Golden Globe Awards after the show had just won the best drama prize.
Co-star and close Knight friend Katherine Heigl immediately did a TV interview blasting Washington.
Washington underwent counseling to try and keep his job but was later fired anyway. He then went on a strange media which included the trashing of Knight during an appearance on Larry King Live.
While his public relations were handled poorly during this period, Washington had played gay roles in the past. In 2009, he posed for the NOH8 campaign in a silent protest against California’s Proposition 8.
‘What has been purported about me has nothing to do with who I am,’ he told Entertainment Tonight at the time of the NOH8 session. ‘I have been dealing with organizations like ACT UP for over 25 years. …Fighting for awareness of HIV/AIDS for 25 years of my life…’