Laurence Fishburne

  1. Wesley Snipes, King of New York, 1990.      Changing roles… When James Russo quit as Jimmy Jump, Fishburne (already cast as Thomas Flanigan) nailed an audition for Jimmy. David Caruso then suggested Snipes to Abel Ferrara as the new Flanigan.Wesley Snipes, King of New York, 1990. Changing roles… When James Russo quit as Jimmy Jump, Fishburne (already cast as Thomas Flanigan) nailed an audition for Jimmy.  David Caruso then suggested Snipes to Abel Ferrara as the new Flanigan.
  2. Tony Todd, Night of the Living Dead, 1990.      George A Romero scripted the re-make of his 1968 horror classic and gave it to his trusty make-up effects man (and sometime actor) Tom Savini to direct – superbly. Tom tried all the inevitables for the heroic Ben: Fishburne, Ving Rhames and ER star, Erique La Salle.
  3. Robby Benson, Beauty and the Beast, 1990.        Tim Curry, Laurence Fishburne, Val Kilmer and Mandy Patinkin made sense as potential voice of The Best – but Regis Philbin, c’mon!  American audiences would have guffawed on recognising the voice of the nation’s most famous morning TV host.
  4. Samuel L Jackson, Pulp Fiction, 1993. 
  5. Ben Vereen, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air #9: Poppa’s Got a Brand New Excuse, TV, 1994.   Finally Will Smith ‘s father shows up – played by Vereen  and not as first planned by Fishburne. He was classified as “too laid-back” to play Will Smith’s father. D’oh!
  6. Dennis Hopper, Waterworld, 1994.        After the first month’s shooting, the Kevins –  Costner and Reynolds – still had no villain.  Well, Costner wanted to be both the hero and villain! Instead, they looked at Fishburne, Gary Busey, James Caan, Gene Hackman, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman. Before playing safe! 
  7. Will Smith, Bad Boys, 1994.   Or changed boys…  The first script, then called Bulletproof Hearts, was written for Saturday Night Live stars, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz.  “Horrified” by the wild producer Don Simpson, Carvey withdrew. So, the duo was Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes when the rights moved from Disney to Columbia… which fancied a Will Smith actioner. Martin Lawrence became his co-star. They both had hit TV series – The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Martin – and had the necessary wit to improvise most of their good Bad roles.  Arsenio Hall later said refusing the ’96 release was the worst mistake of his career. He was not alone. Hall said Laurence Fishburne walked away.  
  8. Samuel L Jackson, Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1995.       Oscar-nominated for Tina, Fishburne sued Andy Vajna’s Cinergi  combine over losing his role of Zeus Carver to Jackson for, allegedly, reasons of finance. Headlines implied racism:  black actors were interchangeable, even undesirable to foreign buyers.  Fishburne had a deal for $1.75m plus up to $350,000 in bonuses and suggested that Sam (friendly with Willis since Pulp Fiction) did the role for less. Vanja said Zeus could have been played by Joe Blow. “As long as Bruce Willis was in it; it didn’t matter who else was in it.” 
  9. Eric Bogosian, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, 1995.      Two Yanks (Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum) and two Brits (Gary Oldman, Julian Sands) refused villainy opposite a hero in, allegedly, in a girdle to control his expansive abdomen. Steven Seagal was so fat that his image on the #2 poster came from the #1 poster, circa 1992. 
  10. Courtney B Vance, The Preacher’s Wife, 1996.       Laurence  was set, in 1995,  as  Witney Houston’s husband in the Bishop’s Wife re-make in 1995.One year later, she chose Angela Bassett’s husband.

  11. Danny Glover, The Rainmaker, 1997.       Left hizzoner’s bench and his old mentor, director Francis Coppola, to headline the sf thriller, Event HorizonAuthor John Grisham called it d  “the best adaptation of any of my books. I love the movie. It’s so well done.”
  12. Wesley Snipes, Blade, 1997.        Eight years later and it is  the same story – except Fishburne has made his Matrix millions. Now it was Wesley’s turn for franchise  millions. (But he should have told the IRS).
  13. Morgan Freeman, Batman Begins,  2004.
  14. Mike Colter, Luke Cage, TV, 2016-2018.   The handsome Colter joined the Marvelverse for stints as Cage during Jessica Jones, 2015-2019, the stand-alone series, 2016-2018, and The Defenders, 2017. Instead of Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino’s third movie in 1997 was going to be about his “absolute” comicbook hero.  The problem was casting Cage. QT wanted Fisburne   “I’m talking King of New York era Larry Fishburne: ‘My name is Jimmy Jump.” His friends voted Wesley Snipes. ”And I go: Look, I like Wesley Snipes, but Larry Fishburne is practically Marlon Brando…  Fish is the man!” And on that note of total disagreement, he went back to adapting Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch for Pam Grier. 



 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  12