Question: How did Fringe come about? What was the inspiration for it?Source: IGN
J.J. Abrams: It was really just Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci and myself just hanging out and talking about the kind of show we'd love to see on the air. For better or worse, like most of the things I do, it just comes from stuff that I'd love to watch. It's sort of a boring answer, but that's kind of what the truth is!
Question: What will we see on the show on a weekly basis? What's the core of the show?
Abrams: At the core of the show are three very distinct characters – this young woman, who's an FBI agent; this really eccentric, nutty and until recently institutionalized scientist; and his somewhat troubled and estranged son. [It's] this trio going up against this very shadowy network of [what are] essentially researchers, who are playing with science and pushing it in ways that are increasingly terrifying. And these three are basically the good guys who try to police them.
Question: For a lot of people, the frame of reference for this type of show is X-Files.
Question: What would you say to them about what sets Fringe apart from that show?
Abrams: I'd say the distinction is, for example, the way The X-Files massive distinction from The Night Stalker was that the characters were very distinct and different. I would say the characters on our show are incredibly different [from X-Files]. Are they up against crazy, seemingly paranormal and terrifying things, like they were in Night Stalker and in X-Files? For sure.
I was a huge X-Files fan, so I would be lying and an idiot if I didn't say that the inspiration for Fringe came from The Twilight Zone, came from Night Stalker, and came from X-Files. Those shows were so entertaining and that [type of] show, with characters that are inspired and interesting, isn't on TV and so it was something that we wanted to see.
Question: As [FOX's] Kevin Relly joked about, you have a reputation as "the ingénue finder." What was it about Anna that jumped out for you?
Abrams: [Pointing towards the attractive Torv, standing a few feet away] Well, she's just so damn ugly. No, the thing is that honestly we saw many, many, many really good actors, and there's that thing you're looking for that clicks. It often is just sort of an indescribable, strange quality. It was getting really down to the wire and a casting agent showed me this audition [tape] that Anna did for something else, an Australian show. And I just knew that was her, [even though] she wasn't reading our dialogue. Then we sent her five pages and she auditioned with that and it confirmed it. She came out and got the job.
Question: There's only so much of you that can physically go around. How much will you be involved with Fringe?
Abrams: Well, the best thing I can do to define my involvement is the way it was with Cloverfield, which was I had this idea for something and then [Drew] wrote the script. The beauty of having Matt Reeves direct Cloverfield and having Drew Goddard write it, is there is such a shorthand with these guys, who I know so well. Matt I've known since we were 13 and Drew I worked with on Alias and Lost. Jeff Pinker is running [Fringe]. Jeff was one of the first writers we hired on Alias and we have directors who are coming on who are in the family, the Bad Robot family, as well. And so my involvement is that A, it's a show that I co-created and care immensely about, and B, Jeff is there and we are talking 1000 times a day and I'm in the writers room. [Lost's] Bryan Burk is producing along with [Felicity's] Bob Williams; literally all these people are people I have worked with. So the ability to work on the show is made infinitely easier by being able to explain, talk about and reference things with people where I'm not starting from scratch trying to develop a dialogue.
For example, with Jeff Pinker, we start with, "This is what I feel the show wants to look like. This is how I feel week-to-week kind of how the show should feel." We start there on a big level. Then I can get the details and every big decision we are discussing; every big thing. Every step we come in, especially at the beginning, as with Lost. To work so closely with someone, as with Damon [Lindelof], who I created Lost with… We're so lucky that he stayed with that show and runs it now. My involvement with that show is negligible now, but he is a brilliant guy, as is Jeff. And I feel like as long as I can help begin the trajectory and work with the show and then, as needed, be available… On Lost, I wasn't needed very much after awhile, because Damon was just so good and so right. On this show, I so look forward to writing episodes and directing episodes. The thought of doing the show, especially since we're shooting in New York, I just feel so lucky that we have this opportunity. So my involvement will be real.
Question: Have you made a plan with Damon to share Lance Reddick? [Editor's Note: Reddick, who plays recurring character Matthew Abbadon on Lost, is a series regular on Fringe]
Abrams: [Laughs] We've figured out how that's gonna work. It will be easier for Lost to get him through us then if he'd taken some other show.
Eric Goldman proves he is a good man (read: he knows what the people want) as he scores an interview with J.J. Abrams and ask him nothing but questions about Fringe.