Indeed, Fishburne has particularly enjoyed rekindling his friendship with fellow club member Dennis Hopper. The two first met during the grueling 18-month shoot for Apocalypse Now, when Fishburne was a wide-eyed 16-year-old and Hopper was a wild-eyed party guy. Hopper made a huge impression on Fishburne then, and he still does today.
“I always tell people I grew up around Dennis,” Fishburne says. “Then I found out he likes to tell people he grew up with me. We grew up together in the Philippines in a way. We’re very similar in that Dennis also started acting when he was a kid. He was in the studio system when cats like ‘the Duke’ [John Wayne] were alive, when [James] Dean was alive, when Montgomery Clift was alive. And then he went off and created this whole other wild-and-crazy thing with Easy Rider -- he and Jack [Nicholson] and Peter Fonda and Jon Voight.
“Dennis is this really amazing artist. He practices so many disciplines that I think he gets overlooked; his acting or his photography overshadows his filmmaking. So Dennis and I, in a really interesting way, are kind of artistic siblings. The fact that we wound up in the same motorcycle club all these years later is really kind of cool.”
Like Hopper, Fishburne is multitasking these days. He’ll next hit the big screen this December as Baines in Armored, a heist thriller in which the crew of an armored security truck tries to steal the $10 million cargo. “Baines is a complete idiot. I haven’t played a guy like that in a long time,” Fishburne says. “After playing Morpheus and Dr. Langston, people think I went to Harvard and have this super brain. I’m not saying I’m not a smart guy, but I can play high and low. This was an opportunity for me to go low. It was kind of fun.”
He’s also slated to direct and star in the $60 million big-screen adaptation of the Paulo Coelho novel The Alchemist. This spiritual fable, which has sold more than 40 million copies in 150-plus countries, follows a young Spanish shepherd on a quest to find hidden treasure within the Egyptian pyramids. “We are making something that a lot of people have expectations about,” Fishburne says. “A lot of people have loved this book. So I think we want to take our time and make sure we create something as special as the original material.”