When The Matrix came out in 1999, it was nothing short of a phenomenon. The film’s groundbreaking action sequences and story full of twists and turns made it an instant sci-fi classic, so it’s no surprise that writer-director Lana Wachowski blew everyone’s minds when she announced plans to continue the original trilogy’s story with a brand new movie: The Matrix 4. (Lana is co-writing and directing, though her sister Lilly, with whom she made the original Matrix trilogy, isn’t involved in the fourth flick.)
What’s more, Keanu Reeves — who has become an even bigger action star in the intervening years thanks to the John Wick franchise — is set to return as Neo, and Carrie-Anne Moss will reprise her role as Trinity. Jada Pinkett Smith has also confirmed her return as Niobe.
You’ll notice, of course, that two of the franchise’s most familiar faces are still missing from that list. We’ve known for a while that scheduling conflicts have prevented Hugo Weaving from returning to terrorize the Matrix as the evil Agent Smith. Shortly after news of The Matrix 4 broke, rumors that Laurence Fishburne may not return as Morpheus began to spread; his absence from the movie’s IMDb page supported the theory. Unfortunately, we now know for sure that Fishburne won’t reprise his role as the pill-offering sage of the Matrix franchise.
Here’s the real reason Laurence Fishburne isn’t in The Matrix 4.
Laurence Fishburne says he wasn’t invited to be in The Matrix 4
In an interview with New York Magazine (via The Wrap), Fishburne explained that the reason he’s not going to be in The Matrix 4 is very simple: Wachowski didn’t ask him.
“I have not been invited,” the actor revealed. “Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it’s great.”
Some fans have speculated that the reason Fishburne’s Morpheus won’t appear in The Matrix 4 is because the character died in the role-playing game The Matrix Online, which the Wachowskis reportedly consider an official part of The Matrix storyline. However, there’s another theory: Morpheus might return in The Matrix 4 after all … as a younger version of himself. If true, this would mean that the movie is going to get really creative with the characters’ ages, considering the fact that all the returning actors are nearly two decades older than they were at the conclusion of the original trilogy.
Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time The Matrix has blown viewers’ minds with creative storytelling — and we can’t help but notice that The Matrix 4 does feature Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, whose previous credits include David “Black Manta” Kane in Aquaman and Cal Abar in Watchmen. While it’s too early to tell whether the younger actor is set to replace Fishburne as Morpheus, Abdul-Mateen’s role remains a secret as of this writing, and many have noted that the muscular actor bears a resemblance to a young Fishburne.
Fishburne sadly won’t be involved with the movie, but chances are we’ll find out more about Morpheus’ ultimate fate when The Matrix 4 drops on April 1, 2022.