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Interview with Joshua Jackson of
"Fringe" on FOX 1/18/13
"Fringe" is one of my favorite scifi shows,
and it's very sad that it's going off the air now, after
only 5 years. It was truly the most surprising and
unexpected show around. I will miss the actors, too, who are
always so great about giving us interviews (as well as the
writers and producers). Joshua Jackson is my favorite.
He's the main reason I started watching the show, after
seeing him on "Dawson's Creek". He is just gorgeous and has
such a nice voice as well as being an amazing actor. On the
phone, he is sweet and kind. I hope he finds another great
project worthy of his talents.
FBC PUBLICITY: The Fringe Conference Call with Josh Jackson
January 18, 2013/9:30 a.m. PST
M Welcome to the final Fringe Conference Call with series
star Josh Jackson. As a sad reminder, our beloved Fringe
concludes with a special two-hour series finale tonight at
8/7 Central on Fox. So without further delay, letís proceed
with our first question and please welcome Josh Jackson.
J. Jackson Good morning, everybody.
M Brett, do we have our first question? We slipped into
another universe maybe?
Moderator Our first question today comes from the line of
Jamie Ruby with Sci-Fi Vision.
J. Ruby I love the show and Iím very sad to see it end.
J. Jackson Iím sad to see it end too, but I hope that weíre
going to out with a bang tonight.
J. Ruby I think you will. Iím sure you will. What are you
going to miss the most?
J. Jackson Well the thing that you end up missing the most
actually is not what gets put on the screen. The hardest
thing to walk away from over a long-formed TV show is the
camaraderie of the company, both the crew and the group of
actors that you have together. Thatís always the hardest
thing to walk away from.
Creatively, I feel like the show came to a natural and
satisfactory ending. So I hope that people will be satisfied
with the way that we put the story to bed tonight. And I
feel like instead of either stretching to show on for too
long or having it sort of cut off in an abortive way, I feel
like we got to tell the ending of our story. So for that Iím
really satisfied, but I will miss the people that I was
working with for the last four years.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Marissa
Rothman from GiveMeMyRemote.com.
M. Rothman We know that Walter might need to make the
sacrifice in the finale and Olivia Ö going over there. What
is Peterís role going to be in these final two hours?
J. Jackson The first of the two hours really deals with
Oliviaís story almost exclusively. It gives us, in a very
Fringy way, a finale insight into where she is or has been
over the course of this season. So Peter doesnít really
haveóin fact, nobody other than really Olivia has much of
any role in that story.
But then in the finale, as much as Walter may be called on
to make a sacrifice and the gang in general is trying to
implement Walter and Donaldís plan, I feel like at least in
the script it read pretty fairly spread across all of the
players. Everybody has their piece in the story.
And then ultimately Peterís role, as it has always been, is
to be the dutiful son and the husband and father. So that
plays itself out in a really specific way. I donít want to
tell you obviously how it plays itself out, but everybody, I
think, is pretty engaged in the finale.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Joshua
Maloney from Niagara Frontier Publications.
J. Maloney I really enjoyed your role and your work in these
past five seasons. I really thought it was great. I thought
you guys didnít get nearly the amount of accolades you
deserved, but what do you take away from this experience as
J. Jackson As an actor, I donít know what the takeaway is
only one month removed. I can tell you that the thing that
is most satisfying to me as an actor is the work that John
and I did, ultimately with Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman, to
try and keep the father/son relationship as honest and as
dynamic as we could in the center of this very, very large,
crazy science fiction story. So that was always really a
point of focus for me.
I think having the chance to be on a serialized TV show and
to tell my piece of it, which was the story of the prodigal
son who starts off doing everything he can to get out of
this world and then eventually gets drawn through the love
of his father and then falls in love with a woman and then
over the course of the seasons completely reverses his
desire to now become a really dedicated son and a solid and
reliable boyfriend and then husband and then a crazily
protective father. I think thatís an interesting journey to
And I think that Walterís and Peterís story mirroring each
other so distinctly in the fifth season is an interesting
thing. So for me, an audience member is always most engaged
by serialized story telling, so I guess as an actor the
thing that I take away from it is how much fun it is to
perform a serialized story.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Ö with
M Last season actually really felt like sort of the closure,
and it was, I think the closure of the overarching
storylines where Peter had momentarily left kind of that
domestic role in the show and became kind of a savior
figure. Now itís interesting in this postscript season;
thatís kind of been rewritten. The boy who must live was not
Peter and heís come back to being in this primarily domestic
role, which is what he was in, in the beginning. I wanted to
know your take on that and if you were involved in any
conversations about what you said youíre playing out in this
final season, which is a father, a husband, a son, if thatís
satisfying to you and if you were sort of part of that
J. Jackson To a greater extent than at any time in the prior
seasons of the show I was involved in the initial
conversations about what season five would be. Wyman was
incredibly open this year, not just with myself but I think
with all of the actors, about what their characters would be
and what their final arcs would be.
He gave, I think, all of us this signpost of what our season
would be in a way that hadnít happened before. So he gave us
all of the opportunity to plot out exactly how we thought we
should be playing each of our individual characters. So from
that standpoint it was actually tremendously satisfying.
I actually felt like Peter got a reallyóthe Peter as
Observer arc I thought was quite interesting this year and I
thought that theóalways to me what was interesting about
Fringe was that even though the larger story was as big as
it can possibly be, the saving universes and doppelgangers
and all the rest of it, the beating heart of the story was
always the family tale.
I really enjoyed the fact that at the center of what was
driving Peter and Olivia this year was both the recovery and
then the loss of their child, and then as a couple trying to
grapple with that both individually and together. So I think
we did a really good job this year of having the larger
story driving forward but having the smaller interpersonal
story be honest.
And then as always, Peter and Walter, theyíre just
inextricably linked. So Peter mirrored all of the mistakes
that his father had made all those years ago regarding
Peter, in regards to his own daughter. So yes, I felt it was
a very satisfying story and a proper for our show to end
when you see the finale to night.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Tara
Bennett with SFX Magazine.
T. Bennett Going back a little bit to what you were talking
about with the Observer arch, you finally got to kind of an
alt version of Peter. When you were working with Joel to
kind of track where you wanted to go was that something you
actively wanted your opportunity to do? And then how did you
kind of prepare for that or kind of become one? Were you
doing a lot of research on what Michael has done or were you
just watching the otheró?
J. Jackson I was never too concerned about doing an ďalt
version.Ē As much fun as it seemed like for the people who
had done it, it wasnít something that I felt was necessary
for me to do to feel like Iíd been a part of Fringe. What
was more important to me was to find what would be an honest
and satisfying story and then conclusion to the story for
the Bishop family.
Neither Wyman or myself were interested in having another
season of Peter and Olivia ďwill they or wonít they?Ē So it
was more interesting to have them be still a couple, still a
married unit but that was deeply, deeply damaged by the loss
of their child, and to have Peter mirror the mistakes that
Walter had made.
Becoming an Observer portion of it was just a natural
outcropping ofóWalterís great sin was breaking the universe
to save his child because there was no place that too far
for him to go. And in the version of the story that we were
telling, the most outrageous thing that Peter could do would
be to become the enemy to destroy him.
So I thought that was actually a fairly outcropping and also
gave Peter and Olivia an interesting arc to their story as
they tried to figure out how to be together again instead of
being sort of alone together, to try and figure out how to
make their marriage tick again with the loss of their child.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Doug Berry
with Xfinity TV.
D. Berry I was just wondering real quick if you took
anything from the set as a memento to remember the series.
J. Jackson People ask me that all the time and I donít know;
maybe Iím just not very imaginative, but it didnít even
cross my mind while I was there. So the answer sadly is no.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Reg Seeton
R. Seeton How do you feel about the way Fringe engaged its
audience in todayís world that makes it easy for people to
J. Jackson I think in the true way of popular media some of
it was intentional. I know from the very beginning with the
Observers and with the glyphs, Bad Robot wanted to put sort
of a second layer beyond just observing the show, just
watching the show, and I know that Fox was really keen on
that too as a way to sort of deepen peopleís experience of
Fringe. And the audience took that and ran with it in a way
that I donít thinkóI think that went beyond the wildest
imaginations of anybody who was engaged in the beginning.
As much as every TV show is trying to reach out to its
audience, it really is the audience itself in our case who
continued to drive their own interest and continued to keep
each other engaged. As much as we tried to help them along,
the community of Fringe became totally self-supporting, and
I think thatís actually one of the moreó
If you talk about Fringe, not just as a narrative experience
on screen, I think one of the more interesting things thatís
come out of it is the community built around the show and
how powerful that can be in tipping the scales towards the
show surviving or failing. Because by traditional metrics
our show wouldíve been off the air at least last year but
probably two years ago, except the passion of our fan base
made it impossible for our show to be dismissed. Maybe the
way that even ten years ago science fiction shows quite
often were lost. So I think the fan base and the passion of
the fan base is a large part of the story of the show
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Steve Sinu
with Spinoff Online.
S. Sinu Youíve been through a major season finale before
with Dawsonís Creek. And while Fringe is admittedly a very
different show it seems to have no less of an emotional
impact with its fans. Coming to this finale as now an older
actor with more experience, more life experience, how would
you compare the two experiences that youíve had with these
J. Jackson There is oddly a lot of similarities. Clearly I
am a decade, maybe even more, older now than I was when we
finished Dawsonís, but Iíve had now the good luck on both of
the TV shows that Iíve worked on, weíve known going into the
last season that it was the last season. So it gives you an
opportunity on set to properly say goodbye to the people
that youíre working with.
It also has a really good way of sort of focusing the mind
on trying to make sure that no matter how hard it is, no
matter how tired you are, that you give everything that you
have to those last shows because there is no tomorrow. You
want to make sure that you go out on the highest note
possible. So the feeling on set both times was quite
similar. Thereís an almost carnival like feeling as you get
towards the end of this huge exchange in anybodyís life.
Itís a very cathartic thing.
And at the very end you look around at this group of people
who youíve spent 70 hours a week with for nine months out of
the year for the last four or five years and you have a
chance to just take stock and go, ďMy God, I canít believe
that we did this.Ē And creatively, because you know itís the
end, you have the opportunity to finish it on your own
terms, which is not often the case in television.
The differences are that Dawsonís Creek was neveróI wasnít a
fan of 90210 it wasnít particularly my genre of show.
Fringe, on the other hand, is right up my alley. So I have
probably more of a personal stake in the climax of this
show, in making sure that it is the satisfactory end to the
journey that the audience has been on. So I hope we achieve
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Trisha
Ziegenhorn with Globe and Mail.
T. Ziegenhorn I was just wondering now that everythingís
over if you have a personal favorite episode, either as an
actor or as a viewer, looking back?
J. Jackson Iíve been asked that question before, and I have
a couple of pat answers, but the truth is thereís no
specific episode that would jump out to me because the
experience of making the show is so different from the
experience of watching the show. So the things that I will
really take from the experience are not specific episodes or
even specific scenes but storylines or great days at work.
The thing that is probably the most cherished piece of the
experience to me is the ability to have this long-formed
story with John Noble and the work that we did to try and
make that father and son dynamic work.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Darrell
Darnell with the Fringe Podcast.
D. Darnell Earlier I asked you about the fan interaction
with the show. This is one of those shows that have been
critically acclaimed but not always achieved the viewership
you would have liked to have seen. Those are the types of
shows that kind of take on a life of their own after they go
off the air. Iím thinking of Star Trek and Firefly, Arrested
Development. What do you see in the future? How will Fringe
be viewed in this respect? What will be its legacy in
television history? Do you see a movie down road? Where do
you see its future?
J. Jackson This is a topic that you and I could talk about
probably for a couple of hours because I find this really
fascinating, but Iíll give you a brief version of my answer
to that. I feel like Fringe and its afterlife is a test case
for the new way that television works, because the two shows
that you mentioned, Firefly and then Star Trek obviously is
the granddaddy of them all.
Part of what made that audience so passionate was scarcity.
It was hard to, less so for Firefly, particularly for Star
Trek, but it still existed. It was hard for the fans, the
community of those shows, to find them, talk about them,
disseminate them because as hard as it is for us to
remember, Firefly was not at the very beginning but long
before this sort of ubiquitous nature of the Internet and
fan forums and things like that.
So Fringe, in an odd way, started its afterlife while it was
still on the air. The community of the show is currently
strong and vibrant and I have a funny feeling that the
afterlife of the show, as much as we who have been making it
for the last five years are finishing our portion of it, I
think it will live on in that community.
And how that manifests itself? I donít know. Perhaps there
would be a movie. I think there will probably be a lot of
fan fiction. Maybe there will be even some sort of filmed
addendum to the show or televised or podcasts or however it
manifests itself, but I feel like the afterlife of Fringe is
the test case for how modern cult shows are going to live on
after they go off the air.
Moderator We do have a question from Suzanne Lanoue from TV
S. Lanoue Iíve been a big fan of the show, watched every
episode from the beginning and all that. Actually, I watched
it mainly because of you, because I had watched Dawsonís
Creek, but I am also a science fiction fan. It was
interesting what the previous caller said and what you said
about them being two very different shows, I believe the
term was. I was wondering if you donít think that they have
some very important things in common, like you said.
Theyíre both serialized dramas and I what I found about
Fringe was that it was very romantic, especially the last
few years. Especially what comes to mind is when Olivia
finally remembers Peter. To me that the most romantic thing
Iíve ever seen in any TV show ever. Your thoughts on the two
shows, comparing the two shows?
J. Jackson Truthfully, any two good character-based shows or
any ten good character-based shows will have a lot of things
in common because the humans, if theyíre honest, go through
the same things. That was always what was most interesting
to me, not even just about Fringe, but about all science
fiction is that youíre using a broad canvas to relay stories
that are very human in their nature and maybe give yourself
the opportunity to attack those problems in novel ways
because of the broad canvas.
However, a healthy life has romance in it and it has
heartbreak in it. So the themes, those themes of personal
growth and discovery, which were very much what Dawsonís was
all about in a more direct and literal sense, of course
those were central to Fringe as well.
For Olivia, this emotionally disconnected, broken woman to
find a way to be able to trust and allow herself to have the
strength, the courage to fall in love, even against all
odds, to have her heart broken but still remain emotionally
available enough to have a child with a man; for Peter to
get over his anger to his father, towards his father,
essentially to fall in love with his own father and to
forgive him and to become part of a family, those are
universal themes that I thinkóof course youíre absolutely
There are definite thematic similarities between Dawsonís
Creek and Fringe, but also would be between really any good
character based show where youíre getting into the personal
lives of the people that youíre watching.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Jamie Ruby
with Sci-Fi Vision.
J. Ruby Obviously youíve talked about hopefully, we all
hope, this show will live on in whatever way. Obviously
their journeys arenít over. Can you say, is there any
specificallyólike what would you like to see in the future
happen to Peter, like his ultimate ending? What would you
like to see happen if you wrote it?
J. Jackson I think the proper ending for the Peter that
weíve known on screen for the last five years actually
happens tonight in the finale. I love the ending. I think it
makes really good sense and it wraps up his story in a way
that is of course intertwined with all of the characters
around him but really specifically intertwined with Olivia
and with Walter and with Eta.
I think it is a proper ending to the person and the story
that weíve been watching for the last five years. I feel
that way, truthfully, for all of the big three, for Olivia,
Walter and Peter. I think Olivia and Peter end in a proper
space. Olivia, Peter and Walter end in a proper space, and
Peter and Walter get to the place that they need to be. So I
think for our story it ends tonight.
But the beauty of what Wymanís done is that heówell, I canít
really answer that. He allows the space for people to live
on with these characters should they desire to. I know
thatís a pretty fuzzy answer, but I donít want to give away
any of the plot details of the finale tonight.
Moderator We do have a question from the line of Peter
Hearns with Richland Chronicle.
P. Hearns I had a question about over the past couple of
episodes, before tonightís season finale, we saw Walter sort
of in a desperation thinking that because the pieces of his
brain had been put together that he was going to turn into
this mad scientist that he always was or was before in the
And then when we see in the episode ďThe Boy Must LiveĒ or
the episode prior, Michael, the kid Observer, touches Walter
and then in ďThe Boy Must LiveĒ he has this new lease on
life but then finds out from Donald that the plan all along
was for him to die and to send the boy into the future.
Would it be fair to say that Peter wouldóI have no idea
whatís going to go on tonightógive his life for Walter, if
that was the choice?
J. Jackson Peter has already given his life for Walter. The
end of the storyline of ďPeter and the MachineĒ was Peter
choosing for his family to live and he to cease existing
himself. Peter to cease existing. So yes, I think it would
not at all be outside of Peterís thought process to
sacrifice himself for a family member, it just is a question
of which family member he would sacrifice himself for.
Again, itís really hard for me to talk aboutó
The journey of Walterís crisis of conscious, as much as heís
worried that heís going to becomeóthe price of his genius
has been hubris and that hubris has been incredibly
destructive, and so Walter is essentially afraid of becoming
fully Walter because heís not sure that he cannot become
that egomaniac again.
I think the gift that Michael gives him, this impasse, is to
free him from that fear, to release him from the small
mindedness of thinking that there has to be some sort of
price to pay for being the best version of himself that he
can be. I think thatís what gives Walter his new lease on
life. I think itís also what gives Nina Sharp the ability to
accept her fate towards the end of her episode.
I think there are a lot of different themes going on. Of
course I donít want to give away whatís about to happen
tonight, but I do feel like thereís a really emotionally
honest and satisfying conclusion, or resolution I should
say, to that question of family sacrifice tonight.
M Unfortunately weíve run out of time so we donít have any
more time for further questions. Josh, do you have any
J. Jackson I do. I just would like to say to everybody
involved here tonight and to everybody who has come on this
journey for these five years of this show, it isóand Iím
going to speak out of turn here, because theyíre not all
represented, but we collectively, as a group, as a cast, as
a crew, as writers, are so thankful to the support that we
have been given over these years and have been often in awe
of the passion that people have felt for this show.
So I personally, and I know we collectively, hope that we
finish this season and ultimately this series on a positive
note tonight that is satisfying to the people who have given
us so much over the course of the five years. So thank you
to everybody for listening today and if you could pass on my
and our great thanks to everybody who has come with us on
this journey. Iíll talk to you on the next one I guess.
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be
available for replay after 11:00 a.m. Pacific today through
That does conclude your conference for today. Thank you for
your participation and for using the AT&T Execute
TeleConference Service. You may now disconnect.
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