Washington was asked by a reporter at a recent New York press conference if he agreed with director Ridley Scott's characterization of the real-life Lucas as a sociopath.
"I wouldn't say that about Frank. I didn't find that to be true," Washington said. "He was definitely a criminal. He was responsible for the deaths of many people. I don't want to just say he was a product of his environment, but, I guess, to a degree, we all are. ... I think, had he gotten a formal education, had he gone in another direction, had he had different influences, I think he still would have been a leader or a very successful man."
Asked how he thinks "American Gangster" fits in with the tradition of New York crime sagas like "The Godfather," "GoodFellas" and "Prince of the City," Washington replied, "I can say, for one, of all those films you mentioned there are no black people in any of them.
"So, for one, this is a Harlem story," he said. "This is about a different kingpin."