Laurence Fishburne Biography

Film Actor, Television Actor, Actor, Theater Actor (1961–)
Actor Laurence Fishburne has appeared in such films as 'Boyz n the Hood,' 'What's Love Got to Do With It' (for which he received an Academy Award nomination) and 'The Matrix,' among other projects.


Laurence Fishburne was born on July 30, 1961, in Augusta, Georgia, and, after some time on the soap opera One Life to Live, made his big-screen acting debut in 1975 in Cornbread, Earl and Me. His string of later successes included Boyz n the Hood, What's Love Got to Do With It and The Matrix and its sequels. He has also appeared in other big-budget films such as Mission: Impossible III, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Man of Steel. In 2014, he once again became a regular TV presence with his role on the ABC sitcom Black-ish.

Early Career

Laurence Fishburne III was born on July 30, 1961, in Augusta, Georgia. Raised in Brooklyn by his mother after his parents' divorce, Fishburne starting acting at age 12. Early on, he appeared primarily on television in the soap oper One Life to Live as the quite young Dr. Josh Hall. He then made his film debut at age 13 in 1975's Cornbread, Earl and Me.

'What's Love Got to Do With It'

Once he got rolling, Fishburne kept busy on the big screen, appearing in such films as Fast Break (1979) and the cult classic Apocalypse Now (1979). (In the realm of Hollywood legend, Fishburne was cast in the latter when he was 14 by telling director Francis Ford Coppola that he was 18.) The 1980s, though, were when things really began to happen. Fishburne appeared in a range of movies during the decade and on several TV shows. His career advanced with such films as Death Wish II (1982), Rumble Fish (1983), The Cotton Club (1984), The Color Purple (1985) and School Daze (1988).

All Fishburne's success in the 1980s was carried over and expanded in the 1990s, as the actor landed meatier roles on the big screen and became a truly known quantity in Hollywood. His string of successes built on intense, solid performances and included 1991's Boyz n the Hood, directed by John Singleton, and 1993's What's Love Got to Do With It, with Fishburne portraying musician Ike Turner. He turned down the role in What's Love a reported five times, but when he heard Angela Bassett was to be his co-star as Tina Turner, he changed his mind and signed on. 

His decision paid off, as he and Bassett both received Academy Award nominations for their roles in What’s Love. He also was breaking new ground as an African-American actor during this time, as in 1995 he became the first black actor to play Shakespeare's Othello in a major screen adaptation.

 'The Matrix'

With these strides came even bigger steps, and Fishburne began appearing in big-budget action fare, such as The Matrix (1999) and its sequels. Co-starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss and directed by Andy and Lana WachowskiThe Matrix was a massive, worldwide success, and Fishburne’s cool and quietly heroic character, Morpheus, brought the actor a huge amount of attention and a legion of new fans.With The Matrix under his belt, Fishburne jumped into the action arena with both feet, appearing in Biker Boyz (2003) and Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) before taking on Mission: Impossible III (2006), Five Fingers (2006) and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).

Never one to find himself in a creative rut, Fishburne’s projects have always showcased his myriad talents. In 2000, he made his directorial debut with Once in the Life, a film he also wrote and starred in that was based on his own 1994 play Riff Raff. In quieter roles, Fishburne played a professor who coaches a girl from south Los Angeles to compete in a national spelling bee in 2006's acclaimed Akeelah and the Bee. And he portrayed a chef in Bobby, also in 2006, about Robert Kennedy's assassination. 

Fishburne later returned to the world of fantastic films with his part as newspaper editor-in-chief Perry White in the Superman revamp The Man of Steel (2013), and reprised the role in 2016's Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

TV and Stage

Even at the height of his film career, Fishburne has always maintained a link to the stage and TV. In 1992, the actor earned a Tony Award and a host of other accolades for his work in August Wilson's Two Trains Running. The following year, his role on TV’s Tribeca landed him his first Emmy. 

He continued to receive major recognition for his acting work: He earned 1996 Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for The Tuskegee Airmen and won a 1997 Emmy for Miss Evers’ Boys, a project on which he also served as executive producer. (The film itself won five Emmys.) For both his TV and film work, Fishburne has won four Image Awards and been nominated for many others.

Fishburne has also made appearances on the CBS crime dramas CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York, each of which found him playing Dr. Raymond Langston. He earned yet another Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the HBO presentation of the one-man play Thurgood (2011). (Fishburne had received a Tony nomination for his work in the play's 2008 original Broadway run.) Later, in 2013, Fishburne took on a lead role in the psychological TV drama Hannibal, and in 2014 he began starring as Pops on the TV comedy Black-ish.

Personal Life

Fishburne is the father of two children, Langston and Montana, with his first wife Hajna Moss. In 2002, he married actress Gina Torres, with whom he has daughter Delilah.

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