Exclusive: John Noble Interview ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Exclusive: John Noble Interview

      Email Post       4/06/2009 09:00:00 AM      

John Noble, who plays the brilliant, enigmatic scientist Walter Bishop, was generous enough to chat with me yesterday for about half an hour about Fringe. I've posted the full transcript below, but do beware there are some mild spoilers. Nothing specific, but he does foreshadow a few things coming up in these next six episodes.

In addition to being talented and kind, John's got a wonderful sense of humor, as you'll see below.
Adam Morgan: First of all, let me just congratulate you on becoming one of the most iconic characters on television.

John Noble: Well, thank you!

Adam Morgan: I know you've got a very extensive background in theater. How do you approach acting for television differently?

John Noble: Well...I don't, really! But the thing about playing a character on television is that you have to work and think very fast, make a lot of improvisations. You have to work with the director to get lots of takes with different timings and positions. One thing different about the theater is that you can play lots and lots of different characters in a relatively short amount of time, but with television and film, you may only play a handful in an entire career.

Adam Morgan: Yeah, and I've heard you say elsewhere that Walter Bishop is your "dream character." Can you tell us why?

John Noble: It requires a complete range of emotions. You have the comedic element, which is in the timing. Because Walter never tries to be funny. Physically, what I try to do is create a character who's older than me, but also still has this incredible energy coming through.

And actually, I just thought of something. It's so rare as an actor to be given a chance to grow a character over a long period of time. It's a long-term development, and of course in theater and film, you can't do that. So that also makes it fun to play Walter, to look back and forward at his journey out of madness, to see where that takes him.

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Adam Morgan: Do you think there are more major skeletons in Walter's closet that we don't know about.

John Noble: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely! There have been a lot of hints that Walter was up to something...dubious, to say the least. And some of that will be hit on in these upcoming episodes, one thing in particular concerning Olivia. In the finale, you'll also see something concerning Peter that is absolutely shattering. So yes, there are revelations to be made.
Lots of people just think of him as funny and cute, but Walter's a man with a past. And it's not only being revealed to the audience, it's being revealed to him as he goes along and starts to get his memory back.

Adam Morgan: Okay...what's your favorite dessert?

John Noble: My favorite what?

Adam Morgan: Your favorite dessert!

John Noble: Dessert! [Cackle] I thought you said "zurt"! I thought that was another Fringe term I wasn't aware of. Well I'm trying to stay away from desserts at the moment, because being on a film set you have to be very careful, or you'll start to explode from the waist. But what would be my favorite? I'd have to say New York cheesecake.

Adam Morgan: Aha, you should tell the writers so they can include it in an episode.

John Noble: I shouldn't have said anything about, because now I'm starting to salivate.

Adam Morgan: What did you think about the episode where Walter runs into another version of himself at the mental institution?

John Noble: That's one of my favorite episodes, The Equation. We all have voices that talk to us, and that did happen when Walter was drugged, so I suppose it could have been in his mind. But Jeff Pinkner has said that everyone has a double, a doppelganger. So whether it was part of Walter's imagination, or another Walter from a parallel universe, that's to be revealed. But I don't want to tell you any more than that. It will be addressed, not this season, but next season.

FRINGE: Walter (John Noble, L) returns to St. Claire's Hospital in the FRINGE episode The EquationAdam Morgan: Great! And this is a question I ask everybody: what's been your favorite scene to shoot so far?

John Noble: There's been a lot of them, but back to The Equation, there was that scene were I talked with a guy named Kim, on the balcony when he breaks down. I found that really moving. He's a beautiful actor to work with. For me, that was a highlight.
But there are so many moments, you know? We've got one coming up on Tuesday night where Walter gets to dance...

Adam Morgan: Haha, yes. I loved that.

FRINGE: Walter (John Noble) attempts to break the case open in the FRINGE episode 'Inner Child' airing Tuesday, April 7 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Barbara Nitke/FOXJohn Noble: It was so much fun, because I didn't get much time to think about it. Someone said, "Oh by the way, choose one of these two pieces of music because tomorrow you're going to do a dance." I remember coming home that night and asking my daughter, "Darling, come listen to this. Which one of these songs should I choose?" So then we shot it first thing the next morning, and it was so much fun. It's really bad, too.

Adam Morgan: It's hilarious! And touching at the same time. Do you have any other funny stories or anecdotes from the set?

John Noble: Every time Josh and Jasika and I are on the set, there's a funny story. Have you made a set visit?

Adam Morgan: No, I haven't. I'd love to, though.

John Noble: Oh, you've got to come up here for a set visit, because particularly in the lab, it's a very funny place to be. There's all sorts of stuff going on between us, and also the crew. Sometimes we really get going, but it happens so fast that not much really sticks out in my mind. On the rare occasions that I get to do a scene with Lance Reddick, who is such a stoic man, I do my best to try and make him laugh. That's one of our inside jokes on the set. Another one is that we all do a take on Kirk [Acevedo]'s voice, like...[Raspy, Puerto Rican, Charlie Francis voice] "It's just...a box...of tissues!"

Adam Morgan: [Laughs]

John Noble: We set each other up.

Adam Morgan: Hopefully some of that will make it onto the DVD...

John Noble: [Laughs] Hopefully not all of it gets on there. Some of it's a bit dodgy! [Full-throated cackle] I actually caught myself just the other day, saying something inappropriate, and we were all laughing and I looked up and there was a giant crane camera right on me!

Adam Morgan: Speaking of the dynamic between you and the rest of the cast, the stuff between you and Joshua Jackson comes across very naturally on the show. Have you guys bonded a lot off-camera? How do you approach that relationship?

John Noble: Absolutely. It's one of the finest relationships I can remember having with another actor, just in terms of how we understand each other and what we're able to do with our characters. I'm very, very fond of Josh Jackson and I think the feeling's mutual. And I respect him a lot too. We have a chance to find something...precious in the relationship between Walter and Peter. We really try to mine that relationship for precious moments, not all of which make it into the show.

Adam Morgan: And what's it like to watch the show? Do you sit down with friends and family on Tuesday nights?

FRINGE: The Observer (Michael Cerveris) is spotted near a disturbing crime scene in the FRINGE episode 'Bad Dreams' airing Tuesday, April 21 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Craig Blankenhorn/FOXJohn Noble: When I can, yes. Quite often we're working those nights, but on the same day I'll be given a DVD. I actually really enjoy watching them, and it gives me a chance to see what the other actors are doing, because half the time I don't even know where they are when I'm not on set. And the guest actors too, like Jared Harris for instance, who makes a comeback as Mr. Jones in these last six episodes. And to watch the Observer pop up on all these places, Michael Cerveris. I was just talking to him the other day, and he's such a nice man. He's become such an iconic figure now, people searching for him, even finding him in places where he's not. There might be a pale fellow in the background and people will shout "There he is!"

Adam Morgan: [Laughs] Yeah, I could've sworn I saw him at a Walgreen's the other day here in Chicago...

John Noble: [Cackle] I'll have to tell him that.

Adam Morgan: I spoke with Anna [Torv] yesterday, and she said you guys were in the middle of shooting the finale. Can you tell me anything about William Bell?

John Noble: Well...no. I can't really tell you anymore than you already know...[dramatic pause]...Well, this is what I'll say to you: something happens to Nina [Sharp], which forces us to come into contact with Bell. It's not fatal, but it's something pretty horrible. So we do get to meet the great man himself. And I can't wait to see him! I don't even know who he is yet!

Adam Morgan: You don't?

John Noble: No, I haven't been told. They love to keep secrets like that from us. We're all sort of hanging out waiting to see what happens with the story.

Adam Morgan: Is that ever frustrating?

John Noble: Oh, no. We all want to know things, but if they gave us answers it would spread through the set in a matter of minutes. But I can't wait to find out. Let me know if you hear anything first.

Adam Morgan: I will! So have you enjoyed living in New York? Do you miss Australia? Apprehensive about the potential move to Vancouver next year?

John Noble: Leaving in New York has been one of the best years of my life, having my wife and children here. There's no other place like it in the world. Though I do hear some great things about Chicago, which is where you are, isn't it?

Adam Morgan: Yeah, it's amazing here. I love it.

John Noble: Do I miss Australia? Well, no. I will definitely retire to Australia at some point, but I don't have any hankerings to go back at this time. As for Canada, Vancouver is a very beautiful city, and obviously there are very talented filmmakers there. So from that point of view, I don't feel too much trepidation. I'll miss New York, and the big family we've created here with our crew. But Vancouver is another day, another challenge, and when I worked there I found the people to be fantastic. And also it's Josh Jackson's hometown.

Adam Morgan: Speaking of Josh, how do you think Walter would react if and when Peter and Olivia became romantically involved?

John Noble: Walter cheesily tries to set them up all the time, but from a storyline point of view I'll stick to my guns here. I think we need to keep the sexual tension going for about six or ten seasons, and then in the finale they can do whatever they like. I mean, think about this: anytime you've got a three person dynamic, and then two of them hook up, someone's left out. And that would be me.

Adam Morgan: [Laughs] Well, I've heard you say you'd like to share a scene with Blair Brown, so, maybe...

John Noble: Well, yes, we kid around about that sometimes and try to come up with ways for us to share a scene. I really look forward to working with her, she's such an amazing actress.

Adam Morgan: Yes. She's a very creepy character on the show. OK, finally, what can we expect from these final six episodes of the season?

John Noble: Well everyone seems to think that Ability is the best episode, and I don't think we're going to drop from that standard. These last six episodes are very dense, exciting, and riddled with mysteries and revolutions. There are some really great stories. I can't wait for these six to air. I'm beginning to have this deep-set feeling that Fringe is becoming a television classic. I just have the feeling that lately we're getting into that ballpark. So I hope the audience agrees with me. I think these six are our best.


Caroline said...

Great itv, this just further proves how awesome JN is.

tallone said...

Thanx for the interview..can't wait to see this thing about Peter.

Adam Morgan said...

Thanks, guys. Keep the great questions coming!

Anonymous said...

John , you are right, you are a classic, its your "mad boffin" style thats so missing in the likes of that other workman like show, all looks and no real meat, whats its name again....., ohh yea 11th hour ;)

PLEASE try and keep your comic "mad boffin" style and build on it as much as you can, its really classic.... and why i watch.

the time and space stories of walter's invention are great, as was the "it could work to bring the dead doctor into the near present" that never happened, OR did it in another reality ;)

keep on the great work, your a star.

as a side note, i think you would also make a great new DrWho (pertwee style), another classic.

Lorna said...

John Noble would be totally amazing as Dr.Who..completely eccentric,yet intellectually brilliant..but we don't want him to ever leave FRINGE do we?

Elle said...

John is an awesome person. Six or ten seasons?
I bloody hope so.

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