20 legendary Black science fiction actors who rocked the genre

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Laurence Fishburne

Can you really imagine The Matrix without Morpheus? And can you really imagine Morpheus being played by anyone other than Laurence Fishburne? His ultra calm and super cool delivery made Morpheus one of the biggest characters in one of the biggest science fiction movie franchises in recent years.

After all, Fishburne’s character is the one that introduces main character Neo (Keanu Reeves), to the concept that reality isn’t necessarily, well, real. His now famous “red pill, blue pill” speech, delivered from a comfy chair with all the confidence and aplomb of a man who knows exactly what he’s doing, is what sets the whole thing into motion. Good thing the Oracle told Morpheus that he wouldn’t be only a hovercraft captain, but the person who would eventually find the “One” that would then save humanity from evil A.I.s. No pressure.

Fishburne was asked to model his performance on another character named Morpheus, the embodiment of dreams in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics series. That sort of creepy, vaguely all-knowing character translated pretty well to the Matrix movies, thanks to Fishburne’s performance.

While the Matrix films can get pretty dark, you can go even more downbeat by following Fishburne to Event Horizon. This 1997 sci-fi horror film directed by Paul W. S. Anderson has Fishburne as another captain, this time of a spaceship following up on a lost vessel. As Captain Miller, Fishburne plays someone facing some serious cosmic horror while just trying to keep his crew alive. Given that he’s in a horror film, Miller’s chances are pretty low, but it’s still wonderful seeing him played by someone like Fishburne.