Ah, spring: That glorious time of the year when TV shows politely end their random mid-season hiatuses. And thank goodness, 'cause Fringe has been off the air for far too long. When we last left off in February, Olivia (Anna Torv) had discovered Walter's (John Noble) secret: that his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), was from the alternate universe. Tomorrow, Fringe continues that arc, with an episode that flashes back to 1985 to tell Walter's story. John Noble gave us the skinny on the episode, entitled "Peter," during a recent conference call with reporters.
On playing Walter Bishop:
Walter [is] a man that is capable of incredible laser-like thought processes, and also is childish and haphazard and random. The joy of it is that I’m free to make those choices. Sometimes Walter will hide behind his childishness. Other times, he will substitute rage for a childish episode. He’s an incredibly complex character. However, I think that there is a little of Walter in all of us, and I have observed the extremes that we see in Walter in other people. The joy for me every day, is the challenge to make those choices as to which way I will go. And I work quite closely with the writers on this material as well.
On Walter's untraceable accent:
When I first approached the character, I was looking for something that was unique... We could have done standard American, but I looked for something a bit more Trans-Atlantic. [In] my experience with academics, they do have a slightly different way of talking. They mix with people from all over the world. What I settled on was something like a Boston accent but with English adaptations, and that was the Trans-Atlantic one.
On playing Walter Bishop, circa 1985:
In my preparation to find the Walter that we all know now, I had to... see where he came from. So that process was started before the pilot, really. What was this man like before he deteriorated? Physically, what I had to do was capture the energy, the vocal physicality of the man. I was aided enormously by my hair and makeup and special effects people here, and wardrobe helped a lot as well. And then we shot through these beautiful lenses that [gave] a different feel to the episode. All of those elements work together to create the version that you see in the episode.
On what "Peter" can tell us about the season finale:
It lets us know what has happened, why Peter is where he is, and it also tells us specifically how Walter went to get him. We see how he crossed over into the other universe. Of course... we already know from the episode before that Olivia knows that he is from somewhere else. So then, there is this build-up towards Peter finding out. The tension is enormous because Peter doesn’t know, Olivia does know, and she is pushing Walter to tell him. But then, finally, he finds out and we literally tumble into these extraordinary last two or three episodes, particularly the finale, which is the great confrontation that we have been promising for two years.
On when Peter will find out where he came from:
"We have this fabulous eight [episodes] coming home and during the course of that, there will be a build-over of several of those episodes to Peter finding out. He does in turn find out, and that really dictates what happens in the last few episodes.
On preparing for the upcoming musical episode:
I did some [musicals] in the early days. I certainly did some music theater, and I even dropped into a couple of operas in small-acting roles. It was very interesting. It was good fun to do.
On the musical background of his Fringe co-stars:
Lance Reddick is a superb singer and musician. We realize[d] that Anna Torv has got a beautiful voice... Jasika Nicole is also from a musical background. It was quite a reveal to us how much talent there was within the company. I was certainly not the A-lister in that group of people.
On what's in store for Season 3:
I do know that there will be substantial time spent on the other universe, and when you get to the [Season 2] finale you will see why we have to do that.
On working with all those gross props:
There were none that grossed me out. I know that we’re dealing with prosthetics, and some brilliant prosthetics at that, but I know that they are, and that we’re not actually hurting real people. It’s like this incredible toy room to me. And the special effects people keep coming up with more gross things for me to play with, and I don’t know where their imaginations live, but it’s astonishing. You haven’t seen the ones that I believe are the best, to be honest with you... There was one where there was a live actor and we had maggots crawling out of his body. That was a bit hard to take... I think that’s the one that really freaked out Jasika the most. But overall, I find them amusing.
Fringe returns Thursday, April 1, at 9pm on Fox.
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