Our Laurence Fishburne interview was a highlight for me this round of interviews. He's one of those elusive Hollywood types—he's been around forever and done pretty much everything. He always seems so quiet and brooding and has these sometimes eclectic or odd roles. I'm sure he's most known for Matrix, but I LOVED him in Othello and I remember him in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (what do you want, I'm an 80s kid, and, fun fact, and I grew up in the town where the story was based…I've been in the house that inspired the stories!) The Cotton Club, The Color Purple, Mystic River, pick a movie. He's so versatile and extremely talented. I was pleased to see Laurence Fishburne on our interview list for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Laurence Fishburne was astonished by our warm welcome when he walked in the room. He mentioned he had just learned of our small group of writers who gets to experience these junkets and interview the talent outside of the huge media outlets. He was impressed.
On joining the MCU
We talked about the fact that Laurence Fishburne is one of the small group of actors who's had the opportunity to have been in both a DC (Batman vs Superman) and a Marvel movie (Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer) and what that's like to have worked in both universes. We also nerded out a little bit because, as it turns out, Laurence Fishburne is a bit of a comic book nerd, too.
“I started reading comic books when I was very young, probably like 8 or 9 years old. And I always read DC and Marvel. I love them both. I’m grateful and happy to be a part of that small group of actors who’ve been in both Universes. And for anybody who thinks I’m perhaps disloyal to one or the other, all I can say is, look, I paid money for both comic books,” Laurence said.
Laurence shared with us how he became involved with the Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer project. From one comic book nerd to another, the story is pretty funny. Laurence ran into director Tim Story, and said to him, “Hey man, I’m Norrin Radd.” And Story said, “Who?” Laurence said, “Norrin Radd.” Story was like, “Who’s Norrin Radd?” So Laurence had to tell him about the origins of the Silver Surfer and Galactus. He was like, “I should play that part in it.” Story was kind enough to cast Laurence to do the vocal performance in that movie.
“So that was my first foray into the Marvel universe.”
A few years back, Laurence wanted to be a part of the MCU because of the way it was progressing.
“They were doing such great things.”
Laurance and Louis D’Esposito had worked together about 30 years previously on the Disney Lot. So he just asked to have a meeting with him and told him he'd really like to have a role, of any sort. They came back to him with this offer of the Bill Foster character.
“Bill Foster, who I was not aware of—oddly enough—because I wasn’t an Ant-Man reader. I was like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Avengers, X-Men.”
“So they presented this character to me, and I met with the director [Peyton Reed], and we got on really well ‘cause he’s also a guy who’s in his 50s who loves comics. It just kind of organically happened.”
He was so excited to join the MCU again. No trepidation. “I would have played a fly on the wall. I would have played a piece of debris in the Marvel Universe.”
On the role of Goliath in the MCU
So, I had to ask this question, because in the comics, Bill Foster’s character is also Goliath and they mention he worked on a project named Goliath with Hank Pym in the film. Coincidence? I think not.
Is there going to be anything that we might see going forward of a Goliath type character?
“Let me put it to you this way. I am not at liberty to speak on such an operation if in fact such an operation…” Laurence said laughing.
Okay, fine, I should have known he wasn't going to spill any real dirt, but it was worth a shot. Continuing on.
We see this sort of reconciliation, redemption Ava's character. They kinda go off into the sunset together…
“And the door is open.”
Yes. And then we have this—Scott is stuck in the quantum realm and…
“And who knows about the quantum realm? So the door is open…obviously it’s a possibility, but I haven’t heard anything.”
I mean, it could stand to reason that Bill Foster has some answers to quantum realm. That said, when I saw James Gunn at the Ant-Man and the Wasp after party, we chatted theories. He insisted that Bill Foster was not the key to the quantum realm. So only time will tell.
On the family theme and fathers and daughters
“It was really in the writing that Bill is a surrogate father, or a foster father to Ava. So that was nice. ‘Cause it gave me something human to play,” Laurence said. “I mean, it’s one of the best things about the Ant-Man character as Paul Rudd plays it, is that his primary relationship, his most important relationship, is with his daughter. And it’s executed, I think, brilliantly in both movies.”
On the potential for villainy in this film
Laurence is most often known for playing good guys in films. Early in his career is played the bad guy a lot, but knowing he may play the bad guy doesn't give him a sense of hesitation when taking a script or role.
“There’s nothing wrong with villainy. Villainy is great. And, you know, if you go way, way back, you go back 40 years. You can see I did a lot of villainy coming up.”
“Essentially, I played a rapist in Death Wish 2, with Charles Bronson. Like after Apocalypse Now, you know, the only kind of roles that I could get were thugs and pimps. I played a pimp in a movie called Band of the Hand. A character I played in a movie called Cotton Club was a pimp and a thief and a gambler. Well yeah, that’s…Pimps are people, too.”
“Heroes, villains, whatever it is, as long as you can make them human then it’s fun. You know, that’s the objective as to whether it’s a hero or a villain, you wanna humanize them and allow the audience to have the experience.”
What superhero he'd like to see on the big screen
Some of his favorites already have their own movies, like Captain Marvel. “There’s been a gender change…what I love about Captain Marvel, if you don’t know the history of Captain Marvel, Thanos is a Captain Marvel villain, and Captain Marvel is kickin’ his ass regularly,” Laurence explained. “So I’m so excited to see that.”
He likes some of the more obscure heroes, too, like Brother Voodoo, “who was kinda freaky and weird, and supernatural,” Laurence described. “That would be a cool thing to see. And then there’s some villains who probably should have had some movies, like the character that Thomas Hayden Church played, the Sandman. He could have had an interesting thing because the Sandman, he was a villain, kind of, but there was also this other part of him. There was this humanity in him that could’ve been interesting.”
On diversity in the MCU
Laurence talked a little about Marvel and diversity and being a role model. “Marvel was being inclusive and they were really, really doing things that were diverse as early as ’68. Black Panther appears in the comics of ’68, Goliath appears in the ‘70s. Sam, the Falcon, appears in the ‘70s. Robbie appears in the ‘70s, and women are always out front in the Marvel Universe and have been since the beginning. So it’s nice that they’ve been able to take the source material and bring it into the now. To be a real reflection, or at least a closer reflection, to what the real world looks like.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp flies into theatres July 6, 2018.
Thanks to Walt Disney Studios for bringing me to Los Angeles on an all-expense paid trip. As always, all opinions are my own.