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Laurence Fishburne On His Special Relationship With Keanu Reeves - Exclusive

Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne are two of the screen's most striking, magnetic personalities, so it's a gift to moviegoers everywhere that we've had the chance to see them collaborate six times in the past 25 years. Their first team-up came in the groundbreaking 1999 sci-fi epic "The Matrix," with Fishburne as Morpheus to Reeves' Neo, followed by two rather divisive but still noteworthy sequels, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions."

Unfortunately, Fishburne didn't return for 2021's legacy sequel, "The Matrix Resurrections," but that's okay: He and Reeves had already found another franchise to play in. The sleeper success of 2014's "John Wick" brought Reeves' own career out of a lull as he played an unstoppable assassin out to avenge his dog. With the filmmakers realizing they potentially had a surreal new world to build around John, Fishburne joined the nascent "John Wick" universe in 2017's "John Wick: Chapter 2" as the Bowery King, an underground intelligence operative and crime lord who has a history with the titular anti-hero.

Both actors are very different from each other; Reeves' trademark is the enigmatic, chilled-out energy he brings to almost every role he plays, while Fishburne delivers earthiness, gravitas, and a coiled intensity that comes not just from decades of screen experience but work on the stage as well. The combination makes the pair riveting to watch. "We have a very, very special kind of chemistry ... You can't explain it and you can't bottle it," Fishburne told Looper in our exclusive interview.

Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves share a common goal

In the production notes for "John Wick: Chapter 4," Keanu Reeves says about Laurence Fishburne, "He's been a mentor to me since we worked together on 'The Matrix.'" Fishburne told Looper that the feeling is mutual: "We love each other and we respect each other. The same is true of Keanu and Chad [Stahelski, "John Wick" director], and Chad and his team."

Fishburne added that all that shared camaraderie and affection that can be found among the cast and crew of the "John Wick" movies started for him and Reeves all those years ago on their first collaboration. "We made something together that has had lasting impact with the first three 'Matrix' movies," he said. "This is really a continuation of that impulse, of that desire to create things for an audience that the audience loves."

It's not clear where the "John Wick" saga goes from here, and "Chapter 4" may well represent the last time we see John and the Bowery King together on screen. But even if there isn't a "John Wick: Chapter 5" in the offing, there are upcoming spin-offs such as "Ballerina" and "The Continental" in which it would be easy to see the Bowery King make another appearance. "That's a rich world," agreed Fishburne.

Meanwhile, film history will eventually determine whether Reeves and Fishburne will join the list of other great acting teams, from legendary duos like Robert Redford and Paul Newman or Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder to more recent pair-ups such as Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. But whatever happens next, Fishburne has one word for the professional and personal experiences he's shared with his co-star: "It's beautiful."

"John Wick: Chapter 4" arrives in theaters this Friday, March 24.