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Larenz Tate

There is life after “The Postman” — for “twentysomething” Larenz Tate, who is chameleon enough to succeed at keeping his real age a secret.

It was during meetings at Warners to discuss his playing singer Frankie Lymon in “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” that Tate first was approached to co-star as the idealistic mail carrier in what was supposed to be the studio’s biggest film of 1997.

In typical Hollywood fashion, the Kevin Costner picture lensed first, then died immediately, and with the “Postman” corpse behind him, Tate went on to give his current high-profile performance in “Fools.”

Four years earlier, Tate had read “The Frankie Lymon Story,” but now the Tina Andrews script was a Rashomon-style tale told from the viewpoint of the singer’s three wives. The new incarnation offered Tate the challenge of playing three different versions of the same man.

“I had no doubt Larenz could do it,” says “Fools” director Gregory Nava, who had seen Tate go from playing a murderous thug in “Menace II Society” to a poet in “love jones.”

Like Lymon, Tate started young in the business, doing TV commercials at age 9 and making his TV debut in the 1980 CBS update of “The Twilight Zone.”

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