Home TV Fringe – Joshua Jackson on his character’s life and death

Fringe – Joshua Jackson on his character’s life and death

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Fringe - John Noble and Joshua Jackson
Fringe - Walter (John Noble, L) and Peter (Joshua Jackson, R) uncover details about the mysterious man known as The Observer in the episode "August" airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Courtney/FOX
Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) ©2009 20th Century Fox
Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) © 20th Century Fox

Last season Fox introduced its audience to Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), who head the FBI’s Fringe Division, exploring the unexplained phenomena and terrifying occurrences linked throughout the world.

In the shocking finale of Season One, Olivia’s introduction to Walter Bishop’s former lab partner, William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), revealed the existence of a parallel universe and the ability to travel between the two worlds. This new universe has a different, intriguing history and hold secrets of its own, which was evident when Walter stunningly visited his son’s gravestone.

I spoke with Joshua Jackson about his character’s life and death, and Season Two of Fringe.

How long will it be before Peter finds out about what the audience learned about him in the finale?

Fringe - Walter (John Noble) tries to explain part of his past to Peter (Joshua Jackson) in the Season One finale
Walter (John Noble) tries to explain part of his past to Peter (Joshua Jackson) ©2009 20th Century Fox

That would be a waste of a good storyline. We’re going to play that out as long as we can. It’s great film noir.

The audience knows whodunit, but we have to follow the leading man around for an hour and a half, going “Dude, he’s right next to you! The killer was with you, the whole time!”

The audience knows something that Peter doesn’t know, so every time he’s going through this, the audience will always have that in the back of their mind and think, “It’s right there. It’s just right in front of you. Why can’t you see this?”

I think that’s great.

What was it that originally appealed to you with the show?

There were a couple different layers. The first layer was that the script was incredibly dense, in a way that, frankly, most television shows are not. Pilots are usually just pitching you the characters or the scenario, and then you get to the rest, as it comes along.

This had the characters built into it, it had a lot of the mythology built into it, and it had a lot of those tendrils and feelers that JJ Abrams, Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman are famous for.

The second layer was that you had a group of people around it who could actually accomplish it. And then, for me personally, the character was something that I certainly have never been able to play before.

I have a very clean slate of the things that I can play with Peter. He can be anything, from right before the moment the show starts. And, in the second season, we’re actually getting into that, much more than we did in the first.

We’ll see what he is capable of, and why it is that he’s a part of this environment. In the first season, while the dynamic between Peter and Walter was very well fleshed out, the question that was never answered was, “Why is he here? What is Peter purpose in all of this?” And, we’re starting to get into that, in the second season.

How does it feel to say that you’ve got a second season?

Joshua Jackson, John Noble and Anna Torv ©2009 20th Century Fox
Joshua Jackson, John Noble and Anna Torv ©2009 20th Century Fox

The first time around for me, with Dawson’s Creek, I was 18 years old when I started that show, and I had no idea what it was that I was getting myself into.

It was just a job. Everything on that show was a learning process for me. Going into Season 1 of Fringe, I knew now how difficult it was to actually get a show on the air, and then to keep a show on the air. So, going into Season Two, we’re still in the process of becoming a made show.

I know we’re all supposed to say, “Oh, I feel so grateful. I’m so happy. I’m so thankful.” But, I can’t tell you how grateful I feel, just that my number came up twice. It’s so, so, so rare. It just doesn’t happen. Better actors than I have tried and tried and tried and tried.

Whatever the metaphor, it is like catching lightening in a bottle, winning the lottery, or getting struck by lightening. It just is such a rare gift, to do it with people that you like, on a show that’s actually in a genre that I love. The X-Files was this show for me, growing up.

If we can be that show for the next generation; that would just be the coolest thing ever.

Will the move to Vancouver have any change on the show? Will there be more scenes where it’s raining?

Well, that’s unavoidable. The look of the show will change, a little bit. But, I think the setting and scenario was going to change a little bit anyway.

At the end of the first season, you get to this huge reveal, and then, like any good cliffhanger, the story takes a massive pivot after that and leads off into different directions.

The stories themselves and the content will remain the same.

Is there anything you wish people would ask you about Fringe, but they never seem to ask about?

If you’d asked me that question before Comic-Con, I might have had a good answer. But, to be perfectly honest, going down to Comic-Con and sitting in one of those panel discussions, and being able to talk about it with contemporaries who are actually engaged in it while it’s still on the air, is such a rare blessing for an actor.

To sit in a room with people, who are really deeply engaged with the show, and be able to bounce questions back and forth, that was probably one of the most satisfying professional experiences I’ve ever had.

I don’t know if there’s a particular question, but to just see that people are not only getting it, but are engaged on a really good, emotional, visceral level, and on an intellectual level as well, that was a great day.