Denzel Washington on Whitney Houston’s Drug Addiction: ‘Nobody Beats That’

More than a year after Whitney Houston’s passing, notoriously private Denzel Washington is opening up about watching as his longtime friend lost a battle with her drug demons.

“Whitney was my girl, and she had done so well in recovery,” the Oscar-winning actor tells GQ magazine’s October issue. “And that is the toughest part about addiction…. [But] that was a monster drug that got a hold of her, it was a mean one. You can’t go back to that one. Nobody beats that.”

But for Washington, 57, Houston was far more than an award-winning pop icon. Stripping away Houston’s star persona and infamous addiction issues, Washington remembers the woman beneath the larger-than-life image.

“Whitney was such a sweet, sweet girl and really just a humble girl,” Washington — who costarred with Houston in the 1996 remake of The Preacher’s Wife — recalled. “You know, they made her this thing. She had a voice, obviously, but they packaged her into this whole whatever, but she was really just this humble, sweet girl.”

And while she’s gone, Houston’s legacy lives on in her industry pals.

“Me and Lenny [Kravitz], we were talking about her yesterday, and it’s more of an example to me or the rest of us to keep it together,” he said. “I was listening to her song ‘I Look to You.’ It’s prophetic.”

Though Washington only spoke with Houston “from time to time,” he watched with the world as his friend fell victim to her addictions. “The next thing you know, her body was betraying her,” he recalled. “She didn’t know that her body was aging quickly. She couldn’t take it. Your body can only take so much.”

“I look at people — and I don’t think I’m speaking out of line — Sam Jackson, I’ve known for thirty-some-odd years, he was down at the bottom,” Washington continued. “And he came all the way back. And when he cleaned up, he never looked back.”

But Houston wasn’t so lucky. She was found dead in her Beverly Hilton Hotel room on Feb. 12, 2012 — the night before the Grammy Awards — at age 48. But her life left Washington with a valuable lesson: “Some people survive [Hollywood and fame], and some people don’t.”

For more from Washington, pick up the latest issue of GQ, on stands Sept. 25.

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