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Laurence Fishburne Reflects on One Life to Live Beginnings

Laurence Fishburne got his start on soaps forty years ago. From 1974 to 1976, the venerated thespian appeared on One Life to Live as Josh Hall. At the time, the future The Matrix star was barely a teenager but was already delivering standout performances.

In a recent Vulture carer retrospective, Fishburne recalled what career advice Sidney Poitier gave him in relation to his career and persona.

Fishburne shared:

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Poitier was definitely one of my mentors. I had these great moments with Poitier in the ’90s when I was doing this movie Event Horizon in London, and I got to spend three days with him, just the two of us. He gave me some great pieces of life advice. When I started, I was doing One Life to Live here in New York. I was 10, 11 years old, a single-parent household. I didn’t have the nicest clothes, all that sh*t, and I wound up on a TV show. All the kids in the neighborhood would be like, 'Hey, movie star. How come you’re dressed like a bum? What the f**k?'That kind of thing. 

Then coming up in the ’70s, the ethos for film stars changed because now this is the day of Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman, and these guys are actors first. Their personal life is not what they’re selling. In the old days, the movie star had to do the thing, and these guys are of the [Marlon] Brando school of 'My personal life is off limits to you.' I felt like I was in that kind of tradition and culture.

Fishburne added:

So, I’m having lunch with Poitier, and we’re eating. He goes, “So, you have to understand, when you’re a star, you have to take care of yourself. And you are a star.”At which point, I’m going, F**k. If this guy’s telling me that I’m a star, I just can’t ignore it. I can’t act like it’s not real. Because he was the biggest movie star in the world in 1967. He’s not talking about some s**t he heard. He lived it. He knows what he’s talking about.