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Last summer, fans of The Matrix rejoiced at the surprising news that franchise co-creator Lana Wachowski would be returning to write and direct a fourth installment in the series, with original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their respective roles as Neo and Trinity. It's been a year, and despite some glimpses at some very flashy stunt footage from the shoot we still know very little about what the fourth film will bring. Now, thanks to original Matrix star Laurence Fishburne, we do know that whatever the film has in store, the original Morpheus won't be a part of it.
Fishburne — who played human resistance icon and mentor Morpheus in the original Matrix trilogy — was conspiciously absent from the fourth film's announcement, and there were reports at the time that his role might even be recast to accommodate a portrayal of a younger version of the character. In an interview with New York Magazine this week, reflecting on his career, Fishburne confirmed that he does not have a role in the film.
"No. I have not been invited," Fishburne said when asked directly if he'd be in the film. "Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it's great."
The reference to writing a play is a callback to earlier in the same interview, when Fishburne noted that he wrote the play Riff Raff after he was replaced in Die Hard with a Vengeance by Samuel L. Jackson. While he doesn't confirm that he's been replaced as Morpheus, Fishburne's comments do of course still leave the door open for another, younger actor to play a different version of the character.
The Matrix 4 began production early this year only to have its shooting schedule halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The film has since shifted from a May 2021 release to a spring 2022 release, and it remains to be seen how long it will take to complete production. In addition to Reeves and Moss, the film also features returning franchise star Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as new cast members Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Priyanka Chopra, and more. Though he won't be back for this installment, Fishburne also took some time in the interview to reflect on playing Morpheus, which he acknowledged will perhaps be his most-remembered work.
"It is probably the role that I'll be best remembered for, which is great; it's not the only thing I'll be remembered for, which is better. What I get with him is I've got Darth Vader in this hand, and I've got Obi-Wan in that hand. I've got Bruce Lee, I've got Muhammad Ali shuffled in there, and I've got kung fu."
The Matrix 4 is set to hit theaters April 1, 2022. For more from Fishburne's interview, pick up the latest issue of New York Magazine.