March 22, 2014 2:12 pm

This Sunday, Morpheus Gives Neil deGrasse Tyson the Red Pill

Image still of Morpheus from “The Matrix.” Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
―Morpheus to Neo. Image still from “The Matrix.” Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

What does it take to get Neil deGrasse Tyson to go all fan-boy geek?

Not much.

Just ship him off to Santa Fe to shoot COSMOS and then tell him Laurence Fishburne is in town filming a new indie sci-fi flick, The Signal.

You see, Neil is a total Matrix fan boy. Like, a “memorize every moment of the movie and script” fanboy. A fanboy who does a passable impression of Morpheus. Even more surprisingly, he points out a flaw in The Matrix (the only one, he says)… and then gives the movie a pass. (Yes, you read that right.)

That’s what makes A Conversation with Laurence Fishburne such a fun ride. We get to know a lot about Laurence Fishburne, and we learn a little bit more about Neil in the process.

And guess what?

Laurence Fishburne is a sci-fi geek, too. He explains how he was naturally curious about the world as a kid, and used math and science to investigate the way things work. He loved going to planetariums, both in Brooklyn where he grew up, and the Hayden Planetarium in NYC. He watched Space 1999 and Star Trek as a kid, as well as the original COSMOS. The two of them geek out over how great Watchmen was, and Laurence tells us which of the roles he really wanted to play. They also trade stories about Superman: Neil famously helped Superman locate his home planet in the comics, and Laurence plays Perry White in the new Superman: Man of Steel reboot. He even talks about being married to Gina Torres, the actress who plays Zoe on Firefly and has serious geek-cred all on her own.

Of course they dive into The Matrix. But they spend a good amount of time talking about chess, and Laurence’s role in Searching for Bobby Fischer. And they get into forensic science when they discuss Laurence’s role in CSI.

It’s a great episode, and much of the reason is that Neil deGrasse Tyson and Laurence Fishburne seem to have such a great time hanging out sharing stories with each other. Laurence taunts Neil, who has never been given the key to a city, with his story of receiving the key to the city of Cambridge, and Neil tells the story of how he ended up getting New York Nicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s used sneakers as a kid.

A Conversation with Laurence Fishburne will be on our website and on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher Sunday night, March 23, at 7:00 PM ET.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simon