Exclusive Interview: Laurence Fishburne talks Last Flag Flying
I was lucky enough to see Last Flag Flying a few days prior to the New York Film Festival premiere. In my review, I praised the performances and how I found the film to be smart and thought-provoking. I was lucky enough to sit down with Laurence Fishburne a few hours before the Hollywood premiere of Last Flag Flying to discuss what it was like working on this film as well as with director Richard Linklater.
Congratulations on this film.
Laurence Fishburne: Thank you.
You premiered it at the New York Film Festival, and tonight it’s having its Hollywood premiere. What was it about this script that really spoke to you and made you want to do it?
Laurence Fishburne: It was the characters that spoke to me mostly. The comradery between the three of them, the history that they have together, the mystery that they share that they sort of talk around throughout the film, and then sort of it comes to a head just around the third act. The opportunity to work with Richard Linklater, who is just a master filmmaker. The opportunity to work with Cranston and Carell, who are master actors, and the opportunity to work in the city of Pittsburgh which I had never spent any time in, but it has a special place in my heart because the late great August Wilson hails from there.
I loved this movie. I thought that you and the other two just nailed it.
Laurence Fishburne: Thank you.
Your chemistry, in particular with Bryan Cranston reminded me of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.
Laurence Fishburne: Wow, bless your heart for saying that. Thank you.
That’s who I thought of when I watched you two going back and forth in the film.
Laurence Fishburne: What a compliment. Thank you so much.
What did you guys do in order to get that great back and forth banter just right?
Laurence Fishburne: We had the good fortune of working together in 2009 on Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. Where I played his boss and the roles were reversed and he was my boss. We like each other, we have great affection for each other, and we both love what we do. I think that’s really kind of what you get the sense of. You know? We both really love acting.
The tone of this film. The tone handles everything so incredibly well.
Laurence Fishburne: Yes, it does.
There is a lot of self-reflection, a lot of edgy topics, but yet it has a lot of light-hearted moments. What was the tone like on set, and how did you weave in between the comedy and drama?
Laurence Fishburne: You know, it’s so amazing. I have to say you’re right, the tone of the movie is absolutely pitch perfect. It was the thing I was struck by when I first saw it, and I have to give the credit to Richard Linklater for that, because of the tone that he sets on his sets, the tone amongst his crew. I mean, he’s been working with the same group of people for 20 some odd years. Even though a lot of them maybe he hasn’t worked with for that long. There’s just something about his way of being and communicating that gives you confidence, and puts everybody at ease, and allows for it to be a very, very collaborative experience.
What do you hope audiences take away from this movie?
Laurence Fishburne: You know, that’s the one question I’m never going to be able to answer because it doesn’t really matter what I want. It only matters what the audience gets. I’m not going to make that, I can’t make that decision for them. I just want them to come see the movie. I hope they enjoy the movie I mean. At the end of the day, I just hope they enjoy it.
Well, thank you so much.
Laurence Fishburne: You’re welcome.
Last Flag Flying is now playing in limited release.
It will be expanding into more theaters this Friday, November 10, 2017