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WATCH: 'Apocalypse Now' Original Movie Trailer 1978, with laurence fishburne.

Movie Biography: Actor Laurence Fishburne In Francis
Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now', 1978

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FISHBURNE'S YOUNG SOLDIER: Despite being made 35 years ago, director Francis Ford Coppola's movie 'Apocalypse Now' still resonates today for an army of film buffs, young and old. Actor Laurence Fishburne was cast in the role of Clean at the age of 14, although he told Coppola he was 16.

*ACTOR LAURENCE FISHBURNE AND APOCALYPSE NOW, ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH

1,300

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Laurence Fishburne Apocalypse Now” each month.

110,000

The number of people worldwide who Google Laurence Fishburne's name each month.

301,000

The number of people worldwide who Google the title “Apocalypse Now” each month.

*All figures for “Actor Laurence Fishburne And Apocalypse Now, According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.

ACTOR LAURENCE FISHBURNE was a 14-year-old virgin when he landed the role of young crewman, Clean, in the mythic, surreal Vietnam war epic, Apocalypse Now (1979).

“There was this one scene where my character had to talk about his love of Playboy magazine, and I was really bad because I didn't know what I was talking about,” Fishburne recalled. “I couldn't express what was at the core of the scene because I didn't have that life experience. I guess somewhere after about take 49, Martin Sheen came over and whispered in my ear: 'Did anyone ever tell you that you're a really good actor?' He gave me something I needed at that moment as a human being.”

From 1976 to 1978 Fishburne was on the set of director Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary shoot in the jungles of the Philippines, alongside world-class actors Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper, some of whom he’d never even heard of before he started filming. But it was Coppola who would have the biggest influence on his development in front of camera. “As an actor, Coppola trained me,” said Fishburne. “That was my training ground.”

LAURENCE FISHBURNE’S APPRENTICESHIP
Fishburne (known as “Fish” to his friends) was born in Augusta, Georgia, on July 30, 1961. His father, Laurence Fishburne II, was a juvenile corrections officer, while his mother Hattie was a schoolteacher. He was raised in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, New York City. He was just 10-years-old when he earned his first acting pay cheque in the off-Broadway play In My Many Names And Days. He then spent three years on the TV daytime soap, One Life To Live, after which he made his feature debut in the urban drama, Cornbread, Earl And Me (1975).

Like Jodie Foster and Ron Howard, Fishburne, who has never had any formal acting training, was one of the few actors of his generation who was thrust early into the limelight, without amassing any life experience — and who subsequently was not destroyed by it. “The hard part as a child actor is you don't get to be a child,” said Fishburne. “When I was working, I was often away from school, from my friends. In other words, I was away from my childhood.”

APOCALYPSE NOW MOVIE AUDITION
Thankfully, Fishburne’s mother was an ever-present force. She recognised his talent from an early age, and encouraged her young son to pursue an acting career, and would take him to auditions. “My mom was really astute in observing that I was very happy and at home when I was performing,” said Fishburne. “I feel fortunate that she was paying attention.”

There was one audition in particular which would change his life forever. At the age of 14 Fishburne, in an often repeated tale, lied about his age in order to cast for a role in the upcoming Apocalypse Now with director Francis Ford Coppola. Although he told Coppola and his production team that he was 16, they knew he wasn’t. “I think they knew,” Fishburne recalled recently on TV show George Tonight. “I don’t think I was fooling anybody.” In fact, Coppola actually intended for Fishburne to pass for 18, not 16, when he was hired.

FISHBURNE GETS CLEAN
Fishburne won the role of Clean, one of the young crewmen that travelled up river with Martin Sheen and the PT boat crew in search of the infamous Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando. But after 18 months filming in the jungles of the Philippines, the environment, and the length of time on location, began to take its toll on Fishburne and his mother Hattie, who had come out with him, as chaperone and tutor. She became worried about his increasingly rebellious attitude, and so she called his father to join them in the Philippines.

“My dad was the disciplinarian — he was a corrections officer,” Fishburne said. “But by then I was 16, almost my full height [6 feet 1], and thought I was somebody. So I wasn't quite as afraid of him as I used to be. I think he was impressed, and just wanted to be there.”

Fishburne senior’s son had ventured into the jungle a talented unknown, and emerged both a man, and a movie star.

Ben Arogundade's book Black Beauty is out now.

ACTOR LAURENCE FISHBURNE LIED about his age when he auditioned for a part in the movie Apocalypse Now. Then, when filming started, his father arrived to discipline his rebellious son. By Ben Arogundade.

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