black-ish's Laurence Fishburne 'really pleased' with Pops' happy ending on season 6 finale
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Tuesday's season 6 finale of black-ish, "Love, Boat."
While Dre finally being nice to Junior seemed like the surprise of the season at first, tonight's finale of black-ish ended with a bang.
After six seasons of teasing and reminding each other of their shared history (including multiple poisonings and a premeditated boat explosion), we learn that Ruby and Pops are giving it another try — via their son Dre walking in on them making love.
As Pops and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) ride off into the sunset, ready to give their relationship (and boat ownership) one more shot, Laurence Fishburne talked to EW about which of the show's twists he knew about in advance, and why he still enjoys playing Pops after six seasons.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did this season feel different for you at all? Pops notably plays a big role in the overall arc.
LAURENCE FISHBURNE: I think it was really well thought out. I mean, they had ideas in the writers' room that they wanted to explore, some of which I think they wanted to explore for a while, specifically the Pops and Ruby angle. And then other things that happened quite naturally that were bound to happen because children grow up, and as they grow, they change. So I thought it went really beautifully. I thought the way that they crafted everything and the way they kind of argued it was really nice.
What was it like working with Loretta Devine? Did you guys have any history prior her to her guest-starring?
Oh, it was wonderful. Yeah, Loretta Devine and I made a movie 100 years ago called Hoodlum, back in Chicago, and obviously Jenifer and I have a history that goes back to What's Love Got to Do With It, so yeah, it was nice. But you know, I only get ahold of my scripts one at a time, as they come. They didn't really give me any notice about what they were going to do for the season for me really. I did know about the breakup that was coming with Pops and Lynette, but other than that, I didn't know where they were going, but I'm really pleased with the direction that they took.
When did you find out about the breakup? I was certainly shocked when it happened.
Oh, I found out about that probably about four weeks before we actually shot it, but of course, I was sworn to secrecy.
Is there a part of you that wanted to see a little more of Pops and Lynette?
No. Listen, I was happy to go along with whatever plans the writers had made.
Were there any changes with Pops’ story that you were particularly excited by?
One of the things I was most excited about was that we got to meet some of Pop's friends, you know, Keith David and Glynn Turman. I thought that was really a lot of fun. And I also thought the possibility of Pops and Ruby getting back together was also a really interesting story to explore as well.
How soon in the season did you know that that might be happening? Was that a part of early talks as well?
No, no, no, no, like I told you, I find those things out as they give me scripts, so I didn't find that out until well into the season.
Did you have any conversations with Jenifer about it? Were you guys mutually excited?
No, we were just like, “Okay, that's what's up. Let's go.”
Do you like doing the flashback scenes? Would you want to see the full story on Ruby burning down Pops’ original boat?
Of course, I would. Listen, I love working for Jenifer. I love the flashbacks. They're completely comical, and kind of off-center. You never know when they're coming, and when they do, they're always good fun. So yeah, I'm up for whatever.
Did you enjoy shooting that happy ending of Pops and Ruby riding off in the new boat she got him?
Yeah, that was really sweet. I mean, that was sweet, that one scene where everything has gone down, and then you see Pops in the diner, and [Ruby] comes in, that was a sweet one. There's just so many of those kinds of moments. It's always fun playing with Jenifer. She's so amazing.
Do you think that Ruby and Pops are gonna last?
I don't know. I haven't really given it that much thought, to be honest.
How do you function as a producer on the show? That title could mean a bunch of different things.
Listen, I show up and I do my job and I try to be as professional as possible and make suggestions where I think they'll be helpful, present ideas to the writers that I think they might find interesting, that could be good for the whole of the show, and, you know, try not to f--- things up.
Part of the reason I ask is that outside of the show, many of the black-ish actors have become producers as well. Tracee Ellis Ross is a producer on the spin-off mixed-ish, same with Yara Shahidi and grown-ish, and then Marsai Martin is out producing movies like Little. How did black-ish develop that culture where there’s room to be more than an actor there.
I think that that's just organic to who we are as a show. I think that's something that just kind of organically presented itself, and I'm so grateful to be a part of something like that. That we are not just in the business of acting, but we're also in the business of creating content, and telling our stories, and having some say in how our stories get told. It's wonderful.
So this was the sixth season of black-ish. A seventh season is still to be determined, but what keeps you coming back to the show?
What keeps me coming back is the fact that we are doing something that people really have responded to. We are telling this family story, and everybody has a family, and so that makes us universal. And we're challenged by the fact that we're dealing with children, and children are always growing, [but] young people have the ability to push older people. [They] push us outside of our comfort zone, just as we have the ability as older people to push them beyond where they think they could go. It's those kinds of relationships and those dynamics that continue to make our show interesting and fun and worthwhile.