Ever since stage and screen star Laurence Fishburne acted in his own play Riff Raff in 1995 at the now-defunct Off-Broadway Circle Repertory Theatre, he has wanted to turn the script into a film. He has now gotten his wish.
Fishburne has signed a deal with New York's Shooting Gallery to finance the project. As first reported in Variety, and confirmed by Fishburne's publicist Alan Neirob, he will star, produce and direct the movie.
Riff Raff -- the gritty urban story of a robbery gone sour and friendships betrayed -- was Fishburne's first effort as a playwright. The New York production, which also starred Titus Welliver and rap star Heavy D, was the last critical success for Circle Rep, which went out of business in 1996. Welliver will repeat his role in the film, but Fishburne is reportedly seeking Wesley Snipes for the Heavy D part. Also producing are Shooting Gallery's Larry Meistrich and David L. Bushnell.
The movie will shoot in New York for a 1999 release. According to Neirob, the film will be completed before the actor's possible return to Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre Production of James Goldman's 1966 play The Lion in Winter directed by Michael Mayer. The stage gig, however, is not a certainty at this point.
Fishburne has starred in such films as Hoodlum, What's Love Got To Do With It?, Deep Cover, Othello and Apocalypse Now. He won a Tony Award for his performance in August Wilson's Two Trains Running. -- By Robert Simonson