Marrakech: Laurence Fishburne on Diversity, Bringing 'The Alchemist' to the Screen

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO
Laurence Fishburne

The actor also credits Netflix for the explosion of new voices in Hollywood.

Laurence Fishburne says his long-gestating The Alchemist project is now moving forward.

“It has just come back around again,” he said, adding the project will come together “sooner rather than later.”

Fishburne has been wanting to develop Paulo Coelho's best-selling book for 16 years, but he said a conversation with Martin Scorsese during the Marrakech Film Festival put it in perspective. “Twenty years isn't that long to wait,” he said, comparing the time frame to the three decades it took Scorsese to get Silence to the screen.

He added that the spiritual message of the 1988 novel still resonates, and that the cultural exchange between religions has particular relevance now. “It speaks to everybody all over the world, and I think that's the thing for me that makes me so passionate about bringing it to the screen,” he said.

Fishburne also praised the significance of this summer's blockbuster Black Panther and its impact on diversity.

“The importance cannot be underestimated, because this is a movie that black people, people of African decent, people of the African diaspora have been waiting to see for 100 years,” he said, adding that the royal themes of the film put it on par with European history in film.

“We've been waiting to see ourselves portrayed this way,” he said. “Sometimes black shit is just the sexiest shit. This is one of those times. You look at the screen and you think, damn, that is some sexy shit.”

Fishburne also predicted there would be more such films.

“There is no way there can't be more,” he said, nothing that things in Hollywood are changing with respect to diversity, gender and inclusiveness. “Things are getting better, and people are not just trying, people are succeeding.”

He added that Netflix and other streaming platforms had been key to pushing this change. “There's just room for more and more content and different kinds of stories. I think things will continue to change,” he said, pointing out that streaming is less than a decade old: “Who knows in seven years what we are going to see?”

Re-upping for the third installment of the John Wick fantasy franchise, Fishburne will be reunited with his Matrix co-star Keanu Reeves. He said his character, Bowery King, will only be in the first half of the film, which was shot in New York over the summer before moving to Morocco. And while the Black-ish star said he's happy “sitting in the grandfather chair” on the sitcom, he liked action John Wick offered.

“The world is just so much fun,” he said. “Everybody is a badass in that world, everybody is a bad motherfucker in John Wick's world. Who doesn't want to feel like that?”