Exclusive: Jared Harris Interview ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Exclusive: Jared Harris Interview

      Email Post       3/02/2009 09:00:00 AM      


Right before Ability aired, the wonderful Jared Harris (aka Mr. Jones) was kind enough to chat with me about his character and his experience on the show. Unfortunately, the audio file was too low-res to post, but here's the transcription:
Q. Mr. Jones has been portrayed as a villain so far, but is there any chance he's more of a misunderstood hero?

A. No. I think he's a villain who might be temporarily cooperating with the forces of righteousness, but he's only doing that to pursue his own agenda. He's an opportunist. Look at what he did to that poor guy in the suit! I think he's a sociopath. He doesn't really care. But I can't really tell you for sure, because I don't know where the story's going.

Q. That was my next question. Do the writers and producers give you background information for your character, or do you just get the script?

A. They give you some background, but they don't tell you where it's going, for precisely this reason. We're having a chat, and if I give something away that their whole season finale hinges on...

Q. We wouldn't want that to happen...

A. As far as background, they said he was in the world of espionage and bioterrorism, very dangerous, very bright. That he got himself into that German prison on purpose, because it was the safest place to be for the time being. I asked Jeff Pinkner about the character back when I started, about where I should try to take him.

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Q. Are we going to see more of you after Ability?

A. I don't know! I'm in pretty bad shape.

Q. You personally? Or Mr. Jones?

A. Jones. He's in pretty bad shape, and I'm not sure where it's going. That episode opens some pretty interesting doors about the connection between [Mr. Jones] and Olivia, and about the Pattern. It's a really good episode. A page-turner of a script. I absolutely loved it when I read it.

Q. Jones certainly seems obsessed with Olivia.

A. Yeah, there were all those drawings a few episodes back. I mean, she's very good looking, but I think it's more than that with him. He needs her, he's trying to manipulate her into trusting him so that she'll do something for him. It's not answered in [Ability] but it's developed a little further.

Q. I sure hope you're coming back; Mr. Jones is my favorite character.

A. Is he? That's very sweet of you to say. My favorite character is the cow. I can't say enough about the cow. I love John Noble, I think he's brilliant, where he takes that character. The dynamic between him and Peter is fantastic. They make me chuckle a lot. And I'm a huge fan of Lance from The Wire. As an actor, he's just incredibly precise, utterly convincing.

Q. What's your experience been like on the set?

A. It's a really good atmosphere there. I mean, it's hard work. For one hour of dramatic television, you're basically shooting a movie every nine days. It's very ambitious. But the atmosphere is very good. There's good banter, a great sense of humor. It's an exciting show, and you can sense that from the attitude of the people involved. They all enjoy what they're doing. It's a great vibe. And of course everyone plays the game that we are right now, try to guess where things are going. The guy that runs Massive Dynamic, William Bell, he always comes up at lunchtime.

Q. Which scene was your favorite to film?

A. The opening scene in Ability definitely ranks up there among my favorites. I love that shot where I'm in the shadows, out of focus in the background, and then I suddenly pop up behind [Mr. Kohl]. That look of insanity in Jones' eyes. He's a nutcase!

Q. How much time is there between when you shoot an episode and when it airs.

A. Well this one (Ability), we finished about two weeks before it aired. That's a really fast turnaround. Normally there's about six weeks turnaround for post-production, but for some reason this one was unusually fast.

Q. As an actor, how do you approach this role on a television show differently from a role in a film, like Captain Mike in Benjamin Button?

A. With Captain Mike, I knew I had that part three or four months before I started shooting. The longer you have to work with a character, the more connections you can make with your own life, your own history. The characterization becomes more detailed and deeper, more intense. It's very hard on Fringe, when you don't know where the story's going. It's much more impressionistic. You go with your gut in the moment, but it's difficult. Some of the choices that you make are probably going to be contradicted later on, and that can be frustrating as an actor.

Q. Yeah, with a film you know the entire arc of the story, whereas with television you only get bits at a time.

A. But it's exciting too. The great thing about television is that it's so immediate. We shot it two weeks ago and now it's coming out. And people are so excited about Fringe, it's this immediate feedback. With Benjamin Button, I shot that two years before it came out. With Lady in the Water, I did an audition without reading the script and then went on my honeymoon. I was in the bush, on safari, with no telephones, and when I got back by agent said we'd made a deal. Then I finally read the script, and I was like "Oh. So that's what this is about." [Laughs]

Q. What's it like to sit in front of the television and watch yourself?

A. It's great fun. When you watch yourself in anything, it's quite a laugh. You can't really concentrate on the story! You remember everything about the day you shot it, the shots and the lines they cut out. You've got an emotional memory of that day. It takes a long time for that to drop away, to just see the character. It takes a couple years to just see it for what it was.

Q. I imagine it's the same for a writer or director, to get that personal experience out of the way.

A. I don't know how directors do it, because they have watch the movie or the episode two or three hundred times. I don't know how they keep the audience's anticipations in their head, how they shape that experience, since they can't trust their own gut reactions anymore. It's amazing how they do that.

Q. Do you have any advice for budding actors out there looking to be as successful as you've been these last few years?

A. It's a tough job. You have to develop a really skin. You're going to get knocked down a lot, but you've got to dust yourself off and get back off. The one thing that keeps you going is your passion. You've got to keep in touch with that part of yourself. Acting itself is the fun part. I love auditioning for that reason. Any day you actually get to do a bit of acting is a good day.

1 Comments:

JoeY said...

Wow, the interview was great! Thanks!

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