Answers to all of the above: It doesn't matter.
Seriously, is there any difference between the two actors? (This is an extra credit/trick question. The answer is no. And it doesn't matter.)
Exhibit A: Here's Samuel L. Jackson
Exhibit B: Here's Laurence Fishburne
Oh wait, this is also Samuel L. Jackson
Exhibit C: I'm not certain who this is, but I'm gonna go with Laurence Fishburne.
The thing is, they don't actually look that similar when you put them right next to each other. Laurence has a Jay Leno chin and Samuel makes sure his nostrils are visible in every photo. That's actually a thing--the two of them agreed on this years ago when it came to their attention that no one could tell them apart. (Note: No it isn't.) It got so bad that, even when looking in the mirror, they would say, is that Laurence or Samuel?
Image via Blackfilm
But in all seriousness, the two actors are aware of the confusion. I was talking about this to Chris the other day, and he told me he saw an interview with one of them--he wasn't sure which one--and whoever it was had mentioned that the two often get mistaken for one another.
"How could you not have known which one was being interviewed?" I asked.
"I mean, I'm sure they probably said who it was at some point..." he replied.
Then again, maybe not. Maybe the producers weren't quite sure either, which is why they asked Laurence/Samuel about the mix-up, hoping he would make some comment about which one he was. And since he didn't, they were forced to air the interview without flashing his name at the bottom of the screen or even introducing the segment properly.
"Hi, Ryan Seacrest here with an esteemed actor who has been in...many films. You've definitely seen at least one of his films. Thanks for being here...sir."
"Thanks, Ryan, it's great to be here," Laurence/Samuel says.
"Now, I have to ask. Are you aware that you...uh...are you aware that many people confuse Laurence Fishburne and Samuel L. Jackson? Apparently you two look alike!" Seacrest quips.
"Heh heh, yes I'm aware. It's quite comical actually. The two of us have spoken about it. He finds it amusing too."
And they somehow make it through the entire interview without either party making reference to the actor's name.
This could make a great episode of Seinfeld. Imagine if the show wanted to have Laurence and/or Samuel guest star so they could write an episode around not being able to tell them apart. Only problem is, only one agrees to participate, and no one can figure out which one he is. But since the episode is about everybody's inability to tell them apart anyway, Laurence/Samuel doesn't notice that nobody is acting, and everybody is actually confused about which one he is.
Like I said earlier, it truly doesn't matter which is which.
I have a preoccupation with celebrity lookalikes. Can I spin this into a career? Who are some other celebs you can't tell apart?