For most Oscar-winning actors, their night of glory is a complete blur. Not so for Denzel Washington, who picked up a gold statue in 1990 for his role as a runaway slave-turned-soldier in Glory. "I just remember the look on my mother's face," recalls the 47-year-old, whose mom, Lynne Washington, was seated in the audience. "She couldn't believe it."

Later that night, the elder Washington once again found herself in a state of shock when she realized that her moderately famous son suddenly was being treated like royalty. "She's like, 'I see this Hollywood stuff, now everybody's your friend,'" relates the actor, mimicking his mother's voice. "I was like, 'You got it, Ma.' That's it — you've got the game in the nutshell.'"

Well, Washington soon may find himself back on the playing field — not that he ever really left: Although the Academy Awards are months away, the star of last year's smash hit Remember the Titans is already garnering Oscar buzz for his menacing turn as a rogue cop in the crime drama Training Day (opening tomorrow). But with four nominations under his belt and only one win, he's learned not to buy into the hype.

"You get yourself all excited to get disappointed," sighs the St. Elsewhere alum, who picked up a Golden Globe in 2000 for The Hurricane, only to lose the Oscar to Kevin Spacey (American Beauty). "[So I] just keep an even keel and continue to make good pictures, because that's the thing for me."