Last fall David Goyer’s series FlashForward premiered to glowing reviews. Its intriguing premise was, what if every person in the world could see their future? Would they accept it, or try to change it, and if they changed it how would that affect everyone around them?
Sonya Walger portrays Olivia Benford on the series, a doctor happily married to FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes). But in her flashforward she saw a mysterious new man in her life, Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport), who does turn up at the hospital with his sick son. And now Simcoe is admitting he and his associate, Simon Campos (Dominic Monaghan), might have had something to do with the flashforward phenomenon.
I spoke with Sonya Walger at Disney Studios last week about the show, which returns to TV this week after a long hiatus.
Where did we leave your character last year?
It’s been awhile, I have to refresh my memory too. The last you saw of me I was at the hospital, I’d been trying to help Lloyd find a new hospital for his son to go to so he’ll be safe. Lloyd has just taken responsibility for the blackout, he and Simon, so they’re in real danger.
At the very end where you saw us, I was saying goodbye to Lloyd who gets abducted and bundled into the back of an ambulance, and I’m left holding and consoling his shrieking son.
How has Olivia’s relationship with Mark grown?
It comes under increasing stress. I join the FBI investigation to help them find Lloyd, and so as much I take all these steps to avoid my flashforward, he just keeps cropping up, and Mark’s really disappearing down the rabbit hole of his investigation, so their marriage is under huge pressure. The shift that happens in the second half of the season is you start seeing whether Olivia might really want her flashforward to come true, which is a real change.
Can you talk about working with Joe and Jack, the difference between the two of them as actors?
They’re very different. They are very different people. They’re great in their different ways. It’s a fun set to be on. Jack and I tend to laugh quite a lot, and Joe and I tend to sit and talk more seriously about things. But they’re both great actors to work with, they really are.
A lot of the cast is returning to Lost for the final season this year – are you going back as Penny?
Is it good to have that closure with the show, to be able to go back and do it again?
Oh yeah, I’d be very sad not to be able to go back to Lost. It’s been such a big part of my life for the last three or four years. I would feel very disappointed, and it’s really lovely to be able to go back and be asked to finish out the story line. She’s been a big character for me as well as other I know.
Do you know what happens in the end?
No, no one knows.
Is it difficult to work on shows like Lost and FlashForward, keeping the secrets?
It’s not that difficult, I mean FlashForward is just easy to keep your mouth shut and at events like this it’s fun to drop things out and get you excited about it. Lost is very easy because I only get the scripts that I’m in, so when I get the scripts there may have been eight episodes before and good luck figuring out what’s gone on in the intervening eight episodes. So I don’t have any problem really.
Have you been watching it?<
In bits and pieces, I don’t watch a lot of TV.
Is it difficult as an actor to play the character when you don’t know what’s going on?
No, not really, because Penny’s storyline is so self-contained, it doesn’t really bleed into the island and the mystery and all of that. Penny, I would say, most of the time hasn’t got a clue what’s going on. She’s just looking for Desmond, she doesn’t care about time travel or ghosts or parallel rips in the space time continuum, none of that means anything to her. It’s always been a very, very straightforward love story between the two of them. So in some ways it doesn’t matter what’s gone on in the eight intervening episodes because it very rarely, if ever, affects what’s gone on with Penny.
Is there any episode of FlashForward that you’re looking forward for viewers to see involving your character?
Yeah, there’s a ton I’m looking forward to, I just can’t tell you about it! Like I say, this love triangle gets really intense, and watching this marriage come under this pressure and strain is pretty huge.
On top of that, Olivia meets this strange guy, I can tell you this, who knows an awful lot about Olivia’s future, and it turns out has had multiple flashforwards, and he becomes a big key, not only to Olivia’s destiny, but the unfolding of the whole investigation. I have a ton to do the second half of this season, I’m not just at the hospital, I’m with the FBI helping them solve stuff, I’m fighting it out with Mark, I meet this strange guy who’s got all this information and we don’t know where he’s got it from, so it’s fun, I’ve got great, juicy story lines.
Have you shot the ‘day’ everyone’s flashforwards culminate?
No, we’re coming up to shoot the finale. I don’t have the scripts for it yet, I think with good reason they didn’t give them to us, because I genuinely have no idea how the show ends, none.