Starting out at 10-years-old on the soap opera One Life to Live, Laurence Fishburne has had both lucky breaks and a hard-working actor’s life. He got roles in a string of director Francis Ford Coppola films after he lied about his age. He met soon-to-be director John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) when Fishburne played Cowboy Curtis on Pee-wee’s Playhouse. He excelled in Spike Lee’s School Daze but turned down Do the Right Thing. And he’s the face of endless memes now, thanks to his role as Morpheus in The Matrix movies. But Laurence Fishburne has some frock flick cred too, and I’d love to see him flex his historical costume acting muscles again. How about you?
Tyrone ‘Clean’ Miller in Apocalypse Now (1979)
Robby Robinson in The Six O’Clock Follies (1980)
Corporal Dorsey in “The Tooth Shall Set You Free,” M*A*S*H (1982)
Jimbo Collins in For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story (1983)
Bumpy Rhodes in The Cotton Club (1984)
Swain in The Color Purple (1985)
Ike Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993)
In an interview with Vulture, Fishburne said of playing Ike Turner:
“I was trying to humanize him, because in humanizing him, you deepen her. It’s a complicated relationship when it’s abusive and one has dominance over the other and is manipulative, and I just felt like for him to be just the villain wasn’t going to be good enough.”
[Not an editor’s note: Fishburne is SO EVIL AND SCARY AND MEAN in this film, and yet SO FRICKIN’ HOT, I am always conflicted! — Kendra]
Hannibal Lee in The Tuskegee Airmen (1995)
Othello in Othello (1995)
In the article, “Two Actors on Shakespeare, Race, and Performance: A Conversation between Harry J. Lennix and Laurence Fishburne,” in Shakespeare Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 3, Fishburne discussed how he played Othello and found a backstory within the text.
“For the actor, myself, I’ll tell you why it was great for me, why I would love to do it again, why I do believe it is extremely challenging and it’s challenging ot that aspect of having pride in one’s own race and one’s people. Very, very difficult. Because he is a child. He goes from being this great general to being almost an infant. And that hurts. You can’t get around it; it’s in the text. … I had to figure my way around it, or my way through it, a way to go through that journey.”
Caleb Humphries in Miss Evers’ Boys (1997)
Bumpy Johnson in Hoodlum (1997)
Edward in Bobby (2006)
Thurgood Marshall in Thurgood (2011)
Alex Haley in Roots (2016)
Nelson Mandela in Madiba (2017)
What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV role by Laurence Fishburne?