When Laurence Fishburne pictured himself one day playing a cowboy onscreen, he pictured himself as the prototypical Western hero. Then he was cast as as the goofy Cowboy Curtis on Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
“I always wanted to play a cowboy,” Fishburne says in an exclusive interview from the upcoming Pee-wee’s Playhouse Blu-ray collection. “I just didn’t get to do it the way I thought I would.” Indeed, Cowboy Curtis isn’t exactly John Wayne: He sings sappy songs, gets visibly nervous before a date, and is more interested in getting advice from cows than herding them.
Fishburne played Cowboy Curtis from 1986 to 1987, and went on to snag an Oscar nomination for his role in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It before starring in 1999’s The Matrix. But it’s Pee-Wee’s Playhouse that sticks with him as something, well, fun.
“[Cowboy Curtis has] given me the opportunity to give a lot of people a lot of joy, and make people smile and laugh,” Fishburne said, “which is not something that I often get to do in the work, because I mostly work in the dramatic part.” Fishburne currently plays a stoic FBI agent on NBC’s Hannibal—not the most humorous of shows. But he’s also recently put his comedy skills to good use as a recurring character on ABC sitcom Black-ish, where he plays a wise-cracking grandpa.
For those who want to revisit Fishburne’s cowboy days though, the complete Blu-ray collection of Pee-wee’s Playhouse—digitally re-mastered and including interviews with the cast—comes out Oct. 21.