If you’ve ever seen a movie or tv show before there’s a very good chance you’ve seen this guy. I grew up idolizing this smooth brother who was like a cool cousin or a best friend who didn’t know I existed . Larenz has made appearances on multiple tv shows from Family Matters, Amen, The Fresh prince of Bel Air, Rescue Me etc. With his most notable and biggest tv roles being the Fox sitcom South Central, The Royal Family starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese to and more recently as Councilam Rashad Tate from HBO’s Power. But where Larenz has really made his mark is on the big screen with many great feature film roles that showed his impeccable range and versatility as an actor. Despite his many accomplishments I still find that he is highly underrated and deserves as much praise and attention as other legends such as Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Chadwick Boseman, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey etc. As someone who grew up on Larenz’s movies I decided to list my top five favorite films and roles that this man has graced us with. These are my own personal favorites that I felt best showcased Larenz’s talents as an actor in my opinion. And for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these movies, what the heck are you waiting for!? Go rent, buy, stream, download or whatever these classics right now!
5. Menace II Society. 1993.
This is the film and role that launched Larenz to cult status and it’s one dynamic role too. Larenz knocked the role of the sadistic, wild and unpredictable gangsta O Dog out of the park so perfectly that people really believed he was O Dog, making him a household name but also unfortunately getting him typecast for a good while until his next big role because all casting directors and producers saw was O Dog when he’d walk in the room. Though, it’s understandable that people really believed he was this character because he was so riveting and mesmerizing in this very scary and uninhibited role. I compare Larenz’s O Dog to Joe Pesci’s Tommy Devito from Goodfellas as both characters were raw, horrifying, sadistic, wild cards that were such dynamic villains that they took over their films every time they appeared.
4. The Inkwell. 1994.
A terribly overlooked film that was a unique coming of age story about a young black boy’s adventures while visiting his Cousin and family in Martha’s Vineyard in the 1970’s. This film came out the year after Menace II Society and was just what Larenz needed to get out of the pigeon hole O Dog put him in. In the role of the geeky, shy and eccentric Drew, Larenz played against everything O Dog was and made this character so lovable and identifiable.
3. Dead Presidents. 1995.
Larenz’s second film with the Hughes Brothers may not be as big as Menace but it is every bit as powerful, compelling and definitely as memorable as the former. Larenz played Anthony Curtis, a kid who went to help fight in the Vietnam war and came back broke and dismissed by the country he helped protect. The heist\action film is very much a story about how our country treats out veterans and how this group of soldiers decided to get what was owed to them by any means necessary. Larenz once again showed his amazing range and versatility getting to play the young naive love sick kid before he went to Vietnam and the broken, lost and angry man that came back and got into a life of crime. The film also doubles as a love story and Anthony and Juanita’s tumultuous relationship serves as the heart and soul of the film. The movie also boasts a great ensemble with Chris Tucker, N’Bushe Wright, Jenifer Lewis, Bokeem Woodbine, Keith David, Clifton Powell, Michael Imperioli, and Terrence Howard.
2. Why Do Fools Fall In Love. 1998.
One of my all time favorite films period but certainly one of the best movies Larenz was involved in, and that goes for his three amazing female co stars as well. This was every man’s dream to be paired with three gorgeous women as love interests and get paid for it too? Mannnn! The movie is another underrated gem and I hope that by listing it here It can finally give this film more attention and love.
- Love Jones. 1997.
I think this film is one that needs no formal introduction. Everybody and they momma knows and most likely owns a Dvd copy of Love Jones. A 1990’s update of Mahogany, a black When Harry Met Sally and a iconic romantic film for many regardless of race for the ages. Larenz Tate’s finest and most memorable role will always be as Darius Lovehall, the smooth talking, articulate handsome female magnet who wet every woman’s panties in the room as soon as he dropped another burning hot poem. This was the role Larenz truly needed to get out of O Dog and prove what a truly great actor he was and still is. The chemistry between Larenz and Nia carried the film but it also boasts a great supporting cast with Isaiah Washington, Lisa Nicole Carson, Bill Bellamy, Khalil Kain and Leonard Roberts.