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Transcript of Interview with John Noble
FBC PUBLICITY: The Fringe Conference Call with John Noble
March 26, 2010/2:00 p.m. EDT
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for standing by and
welcome to the Fringe conference call with John Noble. At this time, all
participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a
question and answer session. Instructions will be given to you at that
time. Also as a reminder, todayís conference is being recorded. I would
now like to turn the call over to Josh Governale. Please go ahead.
J. Governale Thank you, Perky. Good afternoon, everyone and thank you
for joining us on the Fringe conference call with John Noble. As a
reminder, Fringe returns on Thursday, April 1st at 9:00/8:00 Central
with the Peter episode when Walter flashes back to 1985 while explaining
Peterís other-worldly origins to Olivia. Next Thursday will also mark
the first of eight all-new uninterrupted episodes of Fringe. So without
further delay, let us proceed with your questions, and please welcome
J. Noble Thank you, Josh. Thank you, Perky. Letís start.
J. Governale Stand by. Perky?
J. Governale Okay, do you want to us go ahead and send up the first
Moderator Certainly. Our first question comes from Matt Mitovich. Please
M. Mitovich Hey John, thanks for your time today. I appreciate it.
J. Noble Very fine, Matt. Thanks.
M. Mitovich It is an outstanding episode.
J. Noble Great. Thank you so much.
M. Mitovich I am curious, was there anything in the script Ė obviously
they keep you in the loop somewhat, was there anything in the script
that truly surprised you, any elements of the story?
J. Noble The ultimate reveal, I think, and which is so critical to this
episode of Peter, that Walter really did intend to take the child back,
that he only went over because Walternet had missed the cure. That was a
surprise, and a wonderful surprise to me because I hadnít realized that
he had only gone across there because he had to, because otherwise the
boy would die. That was a major reveal to me, and I think it adds a
whole new light to the relationship between Peter and Elizabeth and
Walter going forward.
M. Mitovich And to follow up, I am just curious, is there any particular
time-table in place for when Peter himself will find out the whole
J. Noble Oh, certainly. We have this fabulous eight coming home and
during the course of that, there will be a build-over of several of
those episodes to Peter finding out. Then he, in fact he does in turn
find out, and that really dictates what happens in the last few
Moderator And our next question comes from Fred Topel with Hollywood
F. Topel Hi, John. Just sort of expanding on that, I guess. How does
this episode that the other viewers are about to see on Thursday lead us
up to any surprises that might be coming in the season finale?
J. Noble Well, as I said, Fred, it lets us know what has happened, why
Peter is where he is, and it also tells us specifically how Walter went
to get him. So we see how he crossed over into the other universe. And
so then, but of course once that has happened, we already know that, we
already know from the episode before that Olivia knows that he is from
somewhere else. So then there is this build-up towards Peter finding
out, which is strangulating. I mean, really, the tension is enormous
because Peter doesnít know, Olivia does know, and she is pushing Walter
to tell him. But then finally, he finds out and we tumble, we literally
tumble into these extraordinary last two or three episodes, particularly
the finale, which is the great promise confrontation that we have been
promising for two years.
But a while before that is exceptional in the sense that it is like a
mind-trip of Walterís, and that is when we go into this musical episode
that has been talked about. It is Walter trying to grapple with the fact
that his son is gone, he doesnít know where he is at that point. So we
have this mind-trip of Walterís which is an amazing episode, to be
honest with you, all sorts of things, we have Peter away from them
trying to cope by himself. All the things that people have been asking
for, I think we are delivering in this final eight.
F. Topel It sure sounds like it, and since you guys have a third season
coming, do you have any idea what is in store for that?
J. Noble You know, Fred, I did ask the show runner, I said, ďHave you
got a bible ready for next year?Ē And he just pointed to his head and
said ďIt is all in here, John, it is all in here.Ē I do know that there
will be substantial time spent on the other universe, and when you get
to the finale you will see why we have to do that. So, we will have this
whole other universe playing in with this, at least for the first third
of the season. That is all I can tell you at this stage.
Moderator And our next question comes from David Martindale with Hearst
Newspapers. Please go ahead.
D. Martindale Thank you. Hi, John. I saw the screener of the Peter
episode, too, and enjoyed it. You are really quite wonderful in it.
J. Noble Thank you, David.
D. Martindale How much work went into creating the 1985 version of you?
I mean, not just in terms of creating a younger physical appearance, but
also in terms of making a character that has a very different set of
J. Noble Quite a lot, but in the sense in my preparation to find the
Walter that we all know now, I had to go back to him right at the
beginning to see where he came from. So that process was started before
the pilot really, what was this man like before he deteriorated, so I
was able to revisit that. Physically, of course, what I had to do was
capture the energy, to capture the physicality of the man, the vocal
physicality of the man, this was my task. I was aided enormously by my
hair and makeup and special effects people here in terms of getting the
overall, and indeed wardrobe helped a lot as well. And then we, the ...
shot up through these beautiful lenses that we got a different feel to
the episode than we would now. All of those elements work together,
David, to create this version that you see in the episode.
D. Martindale I donít know whether you watched the finished episode yet,
but the episode does have also a 1985-style opening music and title
sequence, and it listed on screen things that would be Fringe science in
í85, you know, like personal computing and cloning, and DNA, profiling,
genetic engineering, and laser surgery, and whatnot. My question is,
donít you find it remarkable that what was science-fiction one day can
become science fact in the blink of an eye, that we live in a time of
such huge leaps and scientific advances.
J. Noble Well, sure, but I grew up as a child reading Jules Verne and it
all seemed to be some mysterious other-worldly thing, and basically
everything that he talked about has been revealed. So I think one of the
great things about science-fiction is that it, it does in fact predict
the way ahead, more often than not. And I love the things that have been
discussed in science-fiction. Science fiction comics indeed have turned
out to be the truth, 30 or 40, 50 years later, so it is really no
surprise to me.
Moderator And our next question comes from Mike Hughes with TV America.
M. Hughes John, Iíve got to ask you a little bit about your theater
background and how this .... First of all, the musical episode, did you
do a lot of musicals when you were in theater?
J. Noble Mike, I did some in the early days. I certainly did some music
theater, and I even dropped into a couple of operas in small-acting
M. Hughes Oh.
J. Noble Yes, not the highlight of it. It was very interesting. It was
good fun to do.
M. Hughes So in the musical episode, now, do your other co-stars sing
too, and are they singers actually?
J. Noble Mike, I suggest that probably they are much better singers than
M. Hughes Oh.
J. Noble Lance Reddick is a superb singer and musician. We realize now
that Anna Torv has got a beautiful voice, and that is just the starting
point, you know. Jasika Nicole is also from a musical background. So, it
was quite a reveal to us how much talent there was within the company.
As I said, I was certainly not the A-lister in that group of people.
M. Hughes Cool, and one other thing. This is one of the most
unrelentingly ... I have seen as far as your character. He is so
weighted down. I was wondering, is there any comparison done in theater?
Have you done Lear in the past or anything like that that brings this
kind of emotional power down on you?
J. Noble Yes. I have as a matter of fact, Mike. Iíve done a couple of
one-man shows, which means youíre on the stage by yourself for anything
from one and a half to two hours. Thatís a fairly good preparation for
this type of material. But I knew ahead of time that it was going to be
a strain, so I was in really good condition physically and mentally by
the time we got to it. And in fact, I wasnít weighed even though it was
Ė and it was also an episode we shot just before Christmas, so it meant
that we were looking at having a break immediately afterwards. So it was
really tough, but totally enjoyable, and our whole company, not only me,
the whole company put in a tremendous effort to give the quality that I
hope is there. I certainly believe itís there.
Moderator And our next question comes from Marissa Roffman with
M. Roffman Hey John, how are you doing today?
J. Noble Okay, Marissa.
M. Roffman Okay, so in the Peter episode, there was kind of a hint that
Nina and Walter are sharing some kind of bond, possibly about Peter. Are
we going to be exploring that bond a little bit more in the last eight
episodes of the season?
J. Noble That will remain unexplored. Itís been around the place for a
long time. In fact, as long as weíve been running, itís been hinted at.
Itís one of the strings weíre not going to answer in this particular
sequence. It will be talked about again in this sequence coming up, but
we wonít be revealing how it came about until next season.
M. Roffman It will be. Have they told you anything about that? Are you
in the dark as well?
J. Noble Oh no, I am in the dark as well. I do know, both ... and I know
that they have worked out what it is, but they didnít tell us yet.
M. Roffman Thatís very good. Thank you so much.
J. Noble Thanks, Marissa.
Moderator And our next question comes from Jenny Rarden with
J. Rarden Hi.
J. Noble Hi, Jenny.
J. Rarden Thank you for taking our calls.
J. Noble Thanks.
J. Rarden My husband and I are both huge fans of the show. We also donít
think there is anybody else on earth that could portray Walter Bishop as
well as you do.
J. Noble Thank you.
J. Rarden So congratulations on that.
J. Noble That is wonderful. Thanks.
J. Rarden On the same thought, there are really two parts to Walter.
First, is the incredibly strange, but forward- thinking scientist. The
other is just the really odd, random, forgetful man. Can you talk a
little bit about whatís the most fun to play about that character and
what is the most challenging?
J. Noble Look, youíve accurately described Walter, you know, as a man
that is capable of incredible laser-like thought processes, and also is
childish and haphazard and random. The joy of it really is that Iím free
to make those choices, that sometimes Walter will hide behind, I think,
behind his childishness. Other times, he will substitute a rage for a
childish episode. Heís an incredibly complex character. However, I think
that there is a little of Walter in all of us, and certainly, I have
observed in my life the extremes that we see in Walter Iíve observed in
other people. The joy for me is that every day, the challenge is to make
those choices as to which way I will go. And I work quite closely with
the writers on this material as well.
J. Rarden Excellent. Well, then I have one followup question about the
whole Peter episode and what comes after. The revelations about Peter
being from the other side will obviously affect the relationships
between everyone on the show. Can you tell us a little bit more about
how it will affect the potential relationship between Peter and Olivia
and how does it affect the relationship between Peter and Walter?
J. Noble Well, look, obviously Jenny Ė I can remember the first time
that I was telling my own son about the show and I said, you know,
Walter takes a son from the other side, and my son looked at me and
said, ďDad, thereís going to be one very angry father on the other
side.Ē I mean, it was so obvious to him that we were creating a hornetís
nest, and that indeed, the son himself when he finds out, if he finds
out, is going to be extremely wounded by this and outraged. When Peter
finds out, he is extremely wounded and outraged and bewildered and
humiliated and all of the things Ė having just finally found some trust
in his life, and given a little bit of himself to these two people, he
finds out that he has been duped yet again.
So Joshua Jackson plays this beautifully, actually, and we see him as
this lost man really, who has lost this new family of his and is just in
the wilderness really. We do see that for a couple of episodes. And as I
say, I think Josh does it really beautifully. Whatís going to happen,
and it wonít happen this year necessarily, there will be a hint of it in
the finale, is that a relationship will be rekindled between Peter and
Walter. It will be different. But I think thereís sufficient richness
and sufficient texture in what they have already to get them past this
hurdle, thatís my belief, and similarly with Olivia. The relationship
thatís been created over the, you know, the two seasons really, is
stronger than Ė it will survive this breach of trust. It will. And I
think thereís a fantastic relationship between Peter and Olivia. Itís
not a love relationship in terms of a sexual romantic one; itís far
deeper than that. And I think the three of them are locked together in
some sort of an interdependency and that will survive this terrific
Moderator Thank you. Next weíll move to the line of Troy Rogers with
T. Rogers Hi, John, thanks for taking time.
J. Noble Thanks, Troy.
T. Rogers I want to know, what it was like for you to go back to 1985.
J. Noble Oh man. Look, yes, I remember í85. I can remember exactly what
I was doing in í85. I was still working in the theater. I had just
directed a very successful play, which was ... to London. That was í85
for me, but it seems like a lifetime ago. Our children were babies. Oh
... I could reminisce. But í85 was a year Ė was it the year before
Chernobyl? I mean, it was an interesting time. We were in Britain at the
time when Chernobyl blew up, you know, and that seems like history. But
that was í85 for us. Going back I didnít actually find a great
challenge. Physically youíre probably in better shape 25 years than you
are now. But I was able to work pretty hard on that aspect of it myself.
Mentally, I think as you get older, you lose your arrogance, to be
honest with you. I think at 21 you know everything and then little by
little you lose it, or you realize you know very little. So I think we
have a more compassionate, humane man now than we had 25 years ago, but
he was a determined and brilliant man and he believed in himself
entirely. He believed that could achieve things. He believed that he
could save his son, and thatís the difference from this indecisive man
we see now.
Moderator Thank you and we do have a question from the line of Curt
Wagner with Show Patrol.
C. Wagner Hi, John. Thanks for taking the call.
J. Noble Curt, how are you?
C. Wagner Good. I just wanted to congratulate you, first of all. Today,
Walter Bishop moved into the second round of the best TV character
tournament on my blog.
J. Noble Oh really?
C. Wagner Yes.
J. Noble Oh good.
C. Wagner I kept getting cut off, so Iím not sure if these questions
were asked, but I was just wondering how much of the science that you
get to say do you actually know what youíre saying?
J. Noble I try to know what Iím saying.
C. Wagner I mean understand and all that.
J. Noble Look, the rule of thumb is, is it within the realm of
theoretical physics or theoretical science that this could happen?
Thatís the question I would put out there. And if someone canít justify
within the realms of theoretical physics, then I am saying, well, why
are we doing it? You know, we donít need to. Thereís such rich material
there already theorized by the great minds in science and chemistry and
physics. So we try to make it at least possible theoretically, and that
includes things like time travel and other universes and so forth,
things that are theoretically possible. Sometimes, you know, we cross
the line a little bit, I think. But generally we are pretty Ė I mean my
feeling is, you donít actually need to make up rubbish, you know. There
is so much tantalizing science out there to be done, that you really
donít need to make it up, and the writers seem to agree most of the
Moderator This question is from the line of Charlie Jane Anders with
J. Noble Okay.
C. Anders Hi. Thanks for doing the call today, Walter. Iím sorry, John,
sorry. So, I think weíve glimpsed a little bit of Walterís dark side so
far, like in the episode where you got that piece of your brain back. It
was suddenly like he had that focus again. And is it really fun to play
that version of Walter, the kind of more focused, slightly more ruthless
version of Walter? Anyway, I guess thatís my question.
J. Noble And itís a terrific question. Yes, it was wonderful to go back
and visit the man before he became this damaged creature that we know
now. It was probably in some ways closer to myself than the Walter that
we see now, and so in some ways it was quite comfortable to go back to
that place. It was an easier ride than doing the Walter that you know
and that the audiences know. It was kind of nice to have that to be able
to play with that more youthful energy. But bear in mind, as we speak
about this, thatís two versions of Walter, but you were also introduced
to another briefly who will play a major part coming forward in the
series, and thatís Walternet. So youíve got three quite distinct
versions of Walter to look at here. And at present, in fact, as I sit
here talking to you, I walked away from the rehearsal room, and Iím
playing Walternet this morning, who is quite different from Walter in
many ways. So it is fun. Itís a great challenge, but itís great fun.
Moderator Stephanie Wee with tv.com.
S. Wee Hi, John, how are you?
J. Noble Hey, hi Stephanie.
S. Wee I spoke with Lance Reddick earlier this year and he said that you
really enjoy working with all of the crazy, kind of disgusting props
that your character gets to work with. So, Iím wondering if there were
any that really actually grossed you out, as opposed to just fascinated
J. Noble No, no, no, there were none that grossed me out. There were
some that Ė because I basically know that weíre dealing with
prosthetics, and some brilliant prosthetics at that, but I know that
they are, and that weíre not actually hurting real people, so I sort of
Ėitís itís like this incredible toy room to me. And the special effects
people keep coming up with more and more gross things for me to play
with and I donít know where their imaginations live, but itís
astonishing, some of the things. And you havenít seen some of the ones
that I believe are the best ones that havenít gone to air yet, to be
honest with you.
So nothing really Ė there was one where there was a live actor and we
had maggots crawling out of his body. That was a bit hard to take,
because that was a live actor that did that, so that was a bit gross. I
think thatís the one that really freaked out Jasika the most, she said.
But no, overall, I find them amusing.
Moderator Weíll move to the line of Lena Lamoray with Lena Lamoray.com.
J. Noble Hi, Lena.
L. Lamoray What has been your favorite experiment on Fringe so far?
J. Noble Oh Lord. Thereíve been so many good ones. I liked the one where
we made the silly one where we had the frog being injected from the ...
and into a net. That was kind of hilarious to do. I donít know if you
remember that one. We had a frog in a ..., it might have been back in
the beginning of the season, I think. It was kind of hilarious. Weíve
done another one coming up which is how Walter describes how we cross
universes and I think thatís coming up in an episode shortly. Again, it
was excellent. Thereís one where we built a huge, sort of Leggo building
of a Ė I think this has gone to air Ė of a molecule, and Iím sure that
one went to air. That was great fun. You know, what Walter manages to do
is to make them look like the sort of thing that any child would want to
play with while at the same time explaining scientific theory.
Moderator Thank you. Weíll move to the line of Mike Hughes with TV
M. Hughes John, Walterís got a very distinctive way of talking, like an
accent or something and I canít quite follow. Is this your natural way,
or have you added something, like a little bit of a touch of an
authoritative science-touch or something?
J. Noble Thanks, Mike. When I first approached the character, I was
looking for something that was unique, and I guess came up with, and we
could have done standard American, but looking for something a bit more
Trans-Atlantic, because my experience with academics, they do have a
slightly different way of talking, a little bit more ...sometimes. They
mix with people from all over the world .... So I guess what I settled
on was something which could have been like a Boston accent but with
English adaptations, and that was the Trans-Atlantic one. Thatís what
Iíve been trying to get as against the standard American.
Moderator And the next question from the line of Alice Chapman Newgen
with Times Courier.
A. Chapman Newgen Hi John, nice talking to you.
J. Noble You too, Alice.
A. Chapman Newgen Well, I had a couple questions, and the first one is:
Do you have a hard time turning off your character at the end of the day
when youíre ready to go home?
J. Noble You know, I donít, Alice, but I quite often get asked that
question. But no, I donít. I can turn him off. I mean, perhaps Iím a
little crazy most of the time, some people would say so, but I donít
certainly get depressed with him anyway.
Moderator Thank you and we will return to the line of Troy Rogers with
T. Rogers Hi again, John.
J. Noble Good day, Troy.
T. Rogers I wanted to know, if Olivia didnít have this ability to see
the alternate universes, do you think Walter would have told Peter the
truth on his own?
J. Noble Interesting question. I think inevitably the truth would have
to have come out, simply because of the escalation of the events in the
pattern that something has started which was created, which was caused
by the fact that Walter breached the tissue between the fabrics to get
young Peter out. So, eventually, he would have had to find out. But it
was far more interesting for us to find out through this lead character
of ours, this very strange and wondrous Olivia character. It was a much
better, dramatic way for him to find out.
Moderator And that is the last question.
Marissa Thank you, everyone for taking time to be on the call. John,
thank you so much again. As a reminder, Fringe returns next Thursday,
April the 1st at 9:00/8:00 Central with an all-new episode. John, again,
thank you so much, and Ö
J. Noble Well, a big thank you, Marissa, and thank you everyone that
came along and asked the questions. And weíre out.
Moderator Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our
conference for today.
That does conclude our conference today. Thank you for your
participation and for using AT&T executive teleconference.
J. Noble Thank you.
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