While Fisburne and Bassett may be wedded to other people, they exhibit a level of intimacy honed together over two decades as part time screen partners and full time off camera friends. They clearly celebrated one another, alternating between playful kidding, tender acknowledgement and genuine pride regarding the journeys taken as a team and separately as individuals. Both appear grateful for this latest opportunity to mine the creative depths with each other.
“We have this history as actors together that’s crazy,” admits Fishburne. “I think it is only similar to James Earl and Cicely Tyson who worked together for the early ‘60s in The Blacks at the Negro Ensemble Company. They played lovers in that piece. All the way up through the other things they did with each other on film. So we’re really lucky and blessed to have a kind of creative partnership we’ve sustained all these years.”
“We didn’t start out to intentionally try to have this legacy,” admits Bassett. “It just happened. In a theatrical sense, I’m married to the man!” She laughs, turning to Fishburne.
“Thank you,” he replies, smiling at her and taking her hand. “I know that I love Angela. I’ve loved Angela since I first saw her onstage.” He turns to look in her eyes and says, “I love you.”
Bassett is visibly touched. “Thank you. I love you, too.”
"I know that it’s beyond explanation that stuff that happens between us when we work together,” he admits. “The word I use is freedom. There’s a kind of freedom that I experience. We’re free with each other. There’s nothing we can’t do. There’s no place we can’t go. There’s no boundary we can’t push. It’s completely safe.”
“I feel I can make a fool out of myself with him,” she laughs. “And it’s OK. You know?”
“The other thing that I think is really, really precious is the fact we were both touched, taught, schooled, educated, brought along, lifted up by August and Lloyd,” he adds. “It gives us wings to fly.”
Bassett suddenly turns to Fishburne and says softly, “Lloyd knew we were going to do this. Courtney went to see him in the hospital and told him we were going to do this together.”
Fishburne is surprised. “He did?”
She nods. “He was very pleased.”
“I bet he smiled,” he says.
“He did,” she replies and laughs. “Yeah!”
Fishburne joins her, both appreciating the divine timing of Richards’s final acknowledgement.