Locked and Reloaded
You have to jump back 24 years to find Laurence Fishburne so stoked about a film. A lifetime ago, it was Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, which made its debut at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and turned out to be an anti-war masterpiece.
Fishburne was Larry then, a wiry teenager. Coppola cast him when he was a 15-year-old. He was 17 by the time it showed in Cannes.
Now the 41-year-old Fishburne is officially Laurence and he is a distinguished veteran actor-writer-director with excellent credits in film, TV and on stage.
Physically fit but stocky and imposing, Fishburne is a man's man. But he is as giddy and goofy as a kid when talking about The Matrix Reloaded, the Wachowski Brothers' sequel to their surprise 1999 science-fiction morality tale hit.
"Nice, nice," Fishburne says of reprising his role of Morpheus, the rebel commander of an inner-Earth spaceship fighting to maintain the safety of free humans. It is Morpheus who believes that Neo, Keanu Reeves' character, is The One who will determine the fate of the human race.
In a "nice" turn of fate, The Matrix Reloaded opened in Cannes on May 15, the same day it officially opened in thousands of theatres across North America.
Fishburne is slated to be on hand in Cannes for both Reloaded and for Clint Eastwood's Mystic River.
Back to Reloaded. Fishburne is still gushing.
"It's wonderful," he says of being part of Larry and Andy Wachowski's world. "It's the chance to play super-heroes. It's wonderful."
Fishburne says that The Matrix trilogy — The Matrix Revolutions is set to conclude the saga on Nov. 7 — is about myth-making for modern youth.
"That's what we should be doing in movie making. That's part of our charge. It's wonderful. It's wonderful. We've created not a new myth so much as we've taken the old myth and we've made it accessible for people in contemporary times. George Lucas did it with the Star Wars movies."
In The Matrix trilogy, Fishburne says, the filmmakers "use some very clear, recognizable archetypes for the characters, in Trinity and Morpheux and Neo." He is talking about biblical references such as the Holy Trinity.
Fishburne says he did not have to spend much time studying or talking about philosophy and religion to get into the role of Morpheus, primarily because he does that in life.
"I have spent a lot of time in my life living that way, or at least trying to live that way. A lot of this stuff, the spiritual and the philosophical, is stuff that I spend a lot of time on myself. I don't think of myself as being a philosopher or as being particularly religious, but I do think of myself as being a spiritual person.
"So, those things (in The Matrix movies) come through me a lot easier than they would with someone who's unfamiliar with any of the principles and any of the ideas.
"All that (stuff), that's what I'm talking about. All of that spiritual, voodoo, mumbo jumbo, ethereal, cereal-eating, (stuff).
"I'm talking about just do unto others as you would have others do unto you; I'm talking about he who has the gold wins. Look, in every doctrine, in every dogma, in every spiritualism and every religion, there are basic truths and all of these things are roadmaps for human beings to use to try to live better lives, to try to make themselves better people. I'm making it up as I go. I'm trying to do the best I can and be the best human being that I can."