CSI lands Laurence Fishburne as Grissom replacement
Story by Jack Foley
LAURENCE Fishburne (pictured right) is to replace William Petersen as the new lead in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, according to CBS.
The casting coup was announced by executive producer Carol Mendelsohn, who referred to Fishburne as “dream casting”.
The actor – whose film credits include prominent roles in The Matrix trilogy, Mystic River, Event Horizon and, most recently, 21 – will make his debut appearance in the ninth episode of the long-running show’s ninth season.
He will play a former pathologist now working as a college lecturer specialsing in criminalistics. His focus is on understanding criminal behavior and how and why people commit acts of violence.
Fishburne’s character will come into contact with the CSI team during the course of a murder investigation and will ultimately join the Las Vegas Crime Lab as a Level-1 CSI.
Petersen will appear in two episodes with Fishburne, by way of an overlap, and – according to executive producer Naren Shankar – “[Petersen’s character, Gil] will definitely have an opinion on who this guy is”.
“The idea is to see a lot of Billy and Laurence together,” he added.
“This has been months in the making,” Mendelsohn went on to inform The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve been talking about the character we wanted to create and pursuing our dream casting, which is Laurence Fishburne.”
Ironically, Fishburne has confessed to never having seen an episode of the show until he was approached. But – after viewing some preview tapes – said he found the episodes to be “really engaging” and “kind of dark and moody”.
“It was like a lot of work that I had actually been involved in, so I thought, ‘Wow, that’s cool. This’ll work’,” he added.
Fishburne – an Oscar nominee for Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It? reportedly beat John Malkovich and Kurt Russell to the role.
CBS has yet to announce an air date for Fishburne’s first episode, although it is expected to be some time in 2009.