SDCC 2011: Fringe Press- Anna Torv & John Noble

Q: What is the nature of the relationship between your characters now that Peter is no longer in the picture?

John: If Olivia took Walter from the hospital, three years ago she wanted to use him, he would still be under some sort of condition of her approval that he was doing a good job. So it would be a very, almost dysfunctional relationship, where he needs her to approve him and she needs him to stay where he is because he still has a streak of genius. The same would also apply with Astrid…I just made that up!

Anna: That was new, fresh. That’s good.

Q: So you’ll be playing two different Walters, with no Peter in either of their lives, ever. How does that-

John: We don’t know that it’s not ever. I don’t know about this- I’m starting another rumor, because as far as I’m concerned, I think that Peter as a child existed, but they both died. This is my theory on that. So there’s still a lot there within the timeframe we’ve covered in an hour show, but otherwise why would we have these different universes? So I think there was a Peter as a child, yeah. That’s my theory.

Q: I just want to say thanks for bringing up that Walter wasn’t necessarily bad or evil. Because it really bothers me when people say that all the Walters are bad people. But I think it’s a different perspective, I don’t know how, how do you guys play it, do you—because they have their own world and their own concerns, and they’re not just the same as ours, but not necessarily bad.

Anna: I don’t think that anytime you play a character… the first thing you ever get taught really is to like never judge, and to fight their cause, so I think- I know you have [to John]- but for me I mean you just fight their cause, you’re on their side. And the alternate Olivia isn’t bad at all, and Walter has a completely justifiable reason- in my opinion- for what he’s doing.

John: But it’s an interesting thing you raised, because we know going in that because the audience has come to like us, that they would treat enemies as bad people. That’s part of the nature of humanity, and we knew that would happen. We kept saying to the writers that we’ve got to humanize these people, we’ve got to bring this audience across so they don’t know who to balance for, as it were. So we got towards the end.

Anna: And the fact that they stuck with it too! And I thanked them, that’s the studio and the network and the writers, for not just giving a little taste of this alternate universe and being like "Well I’m not going to invest, there’s not enough time". They went "No, we’re really going to do this", and now here we are, at the end of season three, and we’re playing with them still, you know? That’s great!

Q: I prefer Alternate Olivia.

Anna: I do too! (laughs)

John: Her too.

Anna: No, I do love Olivia, but I enjoy the Alternate Olivia. Because…

John: I love Old Olivia, she’s so tragic.

Q: End of season Olivia was a lot more like Alternate Olivia…

A: Yeah, maybe.

Q: …(continued) after the cartoon episode where you just come out like "I might have to die, but…yeah whatever."

Anna: You know…just "a man is gonna kill me"… eat the toast, another day… (laughs)

Q: It was great, you could see the change.

Anna: Yeah, I guess that’s been interesting for the characters, but also for us as actors to be able to go to another place and look in on this show we’ve been doing for a couple of years now, and come back to it with a completely different perspective and a different personality on the characters you’ve been playing… having been in another person’s skin and having looked at what the show could have been. You know?

Q: Well, your character playing yourself, trying to be the other…

Anna: Oh yeah.

John: That was tricky.

Anna: That was kind of tough, yeah.

Q: But you could tell who it was!

Anna: Thank-you, I worry about that sometimes.

Q: It was amazing.

Anna: Thanks! It was always and still is always the theory that they do things similarly- like the crying scenes are hard, the things that they both do, they’re pretty much the same thing and written the same way, and trying to go "Oh gosh, what does one think and what does the other think"- they’re the tough ones.

John: And when Bolivia was impersonating Olivia- that was amazing. Do you remember when there was a little bit in her performance, that if you were watching closely you’d say "That’s not Olivia!"; And occasionally Walter would see it, and you’d look… [reacts to a face she makes] (laughs) A bit like that!

Anna: But we didn’t want to make the other people seem stupid for not picking up on it-

John: It was still there luv, it was very good!

Anna: But at the same time it’s like you want be, you know- it’s the only chance you get to just…

Q: Is there anything you hope to really delve into with your multiple characters, or anything you really hope to do stunt-wise, or to have us learn or see about your characters?

John: Anything that doesn’t freeze the characters in time. The great thing about what we’ve done so far is that the characters, like us as human beings, have growth. And I think if we just froze that as we are now, we would cease to be as excited about doing the show. Because we’re still growing- last season was a perfect example of characters just growing and growing and growing. So if they keep doing that them it makes good television too.

Q: When you were asked to really stretch your accents and your acting skills this last season, how did you prepare to take on this role of another character inhabiting your body, as it were?

Anna: I really do, when I read that episode, I had a little tear because I was thinking "How do I do this? Me? Why couldn’t they make John or Josh do it?" (laughs) And then I called John and said "Help me!" and we sat and talked a lot about the relationship between us- we didn’t have much time, we had like three days- and then I listened to a stack of Leonard (Nimoy) stuff, but just from Fringe, not any of his other work, and then just listened to it. Because we’re both Australian we have a dialect coach who sits and listens to us on set just for accent stuff- anyway so then I went and sat with Linda and sort of practiced.

John: And then we sit the first day and there she was- and I knew what was coming and…

Anna: Thank goodness John was there.

John: Not only was I excited, Walter was excited to because his friend was back. So I guess I was doubly excited! (laughs)

Anna: You were so sweet, oh god you were so darling. The others were just shocked. (laughed)

John: "What is this?"

Anna: Just shocked!

Q: The producers play things really close to the vest, especiall
y with stories, and even with people like you guys. So when we wee it we’ve always got, you know, the mouth hanging open at the end of the episode! When you get the scripts what are your responses, do you have that kind of shocked reaction?

Anna: Yeah!

John: Do your "three-part" Anna, because I like that one. I do!

Anna: My three-part? I’m trying to make it relevant to answering this question… (laughs) No, it’s true. Essentially every episode has three lives: you read it, what’s been written. And then it changes when you shoot it, so you remember what you shoot. And then when it’s cut together its’ often a different one, and keeping track of that sometimes is a little…

[John and interviewers say something, can’t understand]

Anna: No, it didn’t answer the question!

John: No it answered the question perfectly! Because what you think at the beginning when you first read it is not the same as the result coming out at the end.

Anna: Yeah.

John: I knew it was relevant! (laughs)

 

Fringe returns Friday, September 23rd on FOX. Check your local listings.

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