April 25 2024

CSI Files

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Fishburne Brings ‘Thurgood’ To Life

2 min read

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation‘s leading man Laurence Fishburne (Dr Ray Langston) is currently in Washington, DC to perform the one-man play Thurgood at the Eisenhower Theater from June 1-20.

As CSI Files previously reported, Fishburne will reprise the role he first portrayed on Broadway in 2008. Thurgood tells the story of Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was the first African-American individual to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Fishburne is excited to perform the play in the nation’s capital. “I love being here,” the actor told the Washington Post. “To get to play in the Eisenhower by myself—playing Thurgood Marshall? What? WHAT? It’s bigger than Broadway for me.”

Fishburne was drawn to Thurgood because it gave him a chance to play up the lighthearted side of his personality. “I’m always wearing the tragic mask,” he said. “And Thurgood had this incredible sense of humor. He was a terrific raconteur, a champion storyteller. People don’t know how funny I can be, and I get to make people laugh all through the show.”

Before he took on the play, Fishburne didn’t know much about the man he would be portraying. “All I knew was that he was on the Supreme Court—I had no idea he had anything to do with Brown,” the actor said, referring to the historical desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education. He continued, “I didn’t know he was from Baltimore, [Maryland], or that his father was a Pullman car porter; didn’t know he went to Lincoln University. My mentor, Roscoe [Lee Browne], went there.”

In order to prepare for the role, “I went to CBS and watched some of his old interviews and stuff,” Fishburne explained. He was looking for insight into “some of the ways he turns a phrase, for example. The way he would pose an argument. Rhythms, speech patterns.”

The end result is a play that will remain relevant over time. “We’re dealing with race and politics,” explained director Leonard Foglia. “Open the newspaper any day. We did this on Broadway when [President Barack] Obama and [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton were hashing it out [during the Democratic primaries]. And then I realized, there’s never a time when this story isn’t going to be important.”

For Fishburne, that’s a very good thing. The actor is preparing to celebrate his 49th birthday in July. As he gets older, a play like Thurgood will be a better fit than action-packed roles like his part in The Matrix. “I mean, can I be 70 years old and thinking about kung fu kicks?” Fishburne said. “Come on!”

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