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Fame & Fortune
Laurence Fishburne
Every role cements his place in pop culture history
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Laurence Fishburne
 

Laurence Fishburne's place in pop culture history is so ingrained that most people can barely look at a red pill without thinking of him.

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As Morpheus in "The Matrix," Fishburne was part of a genuine phenomenon that benefitted from cutting-edge filmmaking technology and the perfect timing of the beginning of the DVD boom. But Fishburne, who popped onto the cinematic scene at the age of 15 in "Apocalypse Now," hardly needs technology to make his mark.

This Emmy- and Tony-winning actor has breathed life into characters as diverse as Othello, the Silver Surfer and Ike Turner (in a part that earned him an Oscar nomination), and continues to challenge himself with roles equally varied and complex.

Starting today, filmgoers can see him opposite Kevin Spacey in "21" as the private eye seeking to take down a group of MIT-trained cardsharps. Then, next month, Bankrate readers in New York can catch Fishburne in his first-ever one-man show, as he portrays Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in "Thurgood," which premieres April 30 at the Booth Theater on Broadway.

Bankrate spoke to Fishburne about his career, his favorite roles and the joy of using your success to treat others.

Bankrate: You're about to return to Broadway in the one-man show "Thurgood." How do you feel you've grown as an actor since you won your Tony award 16 years ago (for his portrayal of Sterling in August Wilson's "Two Trains Running")?

Laurence Fishburne: Oh, goodness. I'm 16 years older, man. I was 30 when I won my Tony, and from 46 you look back to 30 and think, I was a kid. (laughs) Now, I don't feel like I'm an old man. I'm much more comfortable with 46 than I was with 40. I'm just grateful that I'm getting the opportunity to play this part.

How I've grown as an actor, it's hard to say. I hope I've grown as much as an actor as I've grown as a human being. I'm a completely different man than I was at 30. My responsibilities are greater, my life is larger, and I can only hope that in some ways I have nurtured my talent and tried to reach for things that are realistic for me. (In "Thurgood,") I'm gonna be playing a man who was 44 when he won the Brown (vs. the Board of Education) case, and that was the peak of his professional life, I think.

Bankrate: You're a theater actor, film actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Is there any one aspect of what you do that you'd consider your favorite?

Laurence Fishburne: Goodness. The thing about it is that they are all fingers on the hand -- the acting in film and the acting in theater are kind of like my thumb and my index finger. The writing is like my wedding finger. Producing is one you flip the bird with. (Large laugh) They all stem from my basic creativity. Fundamentally I'm a creative being, and I've learned how to do these different things as a way of expressing my creativity.

Bankrate: With all the roles you've played, is there any one role you can call your favorite?

Laurence Fishburne: Othello really resonated for me. I actually had a proposal from Kevin Spacey to join him in a production of "Othello" at the Old Vic sometime in the next couple of years, and I really would like to revisit that, because it's a role I've never played on stage.

Next: "For a lot of people I'm just Morpheus."
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