Controversial actor Isaiah Washington is not one to shy away from spewing contentious statements. Whether it’s on set, on social media or while being interviewed, the former Grey’s Anatomy star doesn’t mind being on the wrong side of history. In a recent interview, he turned his sights on the late singer-turned-actress Aaliyah, whose life was riddled with controversy and rumors at a very young age.
According to Washington, his Romeo Must Die costar wasn’t R. Kelly’s victim when she met the R&B crooner at 12 years old and wed the then 27-year-old singer at 15. In fact, Washington said he believes that the young teen was in full control due to her mature personality.
“She was very complex. She was easy to love,” Washington stated. “I can’t judge the choices she made in her life. She was very in control of her being. But she was a businesswoman too. She was super smart. I think she was in control of that situation even at her age. 100 percent.”
In shock, the interviewer asked for clarification, “At 15?”
“Oh yeah, I say she was mature beyond her age,” Washington reiterated. “Like that song, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.’”
The actor continued to dig himself into a hole.
“She was 15 going on 30, so she was in control of that whole situation,” he added. “I don’t judge her, but she was very smart and very mature and very in control of her situation. I don’t believe one minute that Aaliyah was made to do anything that Aaliyah didn’t want to do.”
According to Billboard, R. Kelly’s tour manager, Demetrius Smith, spoke up against the disgraced artist during his racketeering and sex trafficking trial in 2021. Smith said he believes that the pair married after Kelly allegedly impregnated Aaliyah while she was still a minor.
The marriage, however, was canceled a short time later. Aaliyah, along with eight others, tragically died in an airplane accident in the Bahamas in August 2001. She was 22 years old.
Washington, who puts Aaliyah when they filmed Romeo Must Die together in 1999, revealed during the interview that he, like many others, had a crush on Aaliyah.
“I can see why people fall in love with her,” he said. “She was just a beautiful human being. … We never got into an argument about anything.”
However, according to the late Eric Ferrell, Aaliyah’s makeup artist who worked with the singer up until her untimely passing, she had to check the actor over his blatant homophobia on the set of their film.
In an Instagram comment, when asked if Aaliyah would have been outspoken about LGBTQ+ rights, Ferrell revealed that Aaliyah, a longtime ally, made a costar publicly apologize to a gay crew member after she witnessed him being disrespectful.
“She had very strong opinions about social issues! She was very much a committed ally to the LGBTQ community,” he shared. “She once very forcefully checked a fellow actor who was continually taunting a gay crew member on the set of romeo because the man was flamboyant said actor thought it was funny to target him well she set him straight and made him apologize in front of the entire crew.”
Ferrell went on to clarify that the costar in question was not “Anthony [Anderson] Gold Jet [Li] nor was it Delroy [Lindo].” According to Gay Times, some speculated that it might have been Washington, as it has a history of making homophobic comments.