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By Suzanne

John Noble

Interview with John Noble of "Fringe" on FOX 1/10/13

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: The Fringe Conference Call
January 10, 2013/12:00 p.m. PST

Josh Governale
John Noble

Moderator Welcome to The Fringe Conference Call with John Noble. For the conference, all the participants are in a listen-only mode. As a reminder, this call is being recorded. For brief opening remarks Iíll turn it now to Mr. Josh Governale from Fox. Please go ahead.

J. Governale Thank you very much. Good morning and good afternoon everyone. Welcome to The Fringe conference call with series start John Noble, whoís calling us from Australia. So please be aware that there might be a delay. In addition, I want to remind you that the series finale of Fringe will air on Friday, January 18th. So now without further delay, Iíll turn the call over to John Noble.

J. Noble Thanks, Josh.

J. Governale John, did you have some opening remarks or do you want to just go right into question and answer?

J. Noble We havenít got much time, but obviously this is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the support that all the people listening have given us over the last five years, which is really terribly impressive and probably the reason weíre still on the air. So I say thank you to everyone for that and simply say I think we finished the series off as well as I could possibly have dreamed of, as I hope will be evident in the next couple of weeks.

J. Governale Okay, letís turn it over to our first question please.

Moderator Weíll go to the line of Jamie Ruby with Sci-Fi Vision.

J. Ruby I love the show and Walter. It seems like itíd be really fun to play him. He does so many crazy things and has so many idiosyncrasies. Whatís your favorite Walter moment?

J. Noble Which is my favorite, Walter really, because Iíve played a bunch of different versions of him. Gee, I donít know. I loved it when he was being random, which was probably the original version of him more than anyone else. I loved doing Walter then and all of the different mental states that weíve played in during the time, but when he was being completely random and had very poor social skills.

I loved the scenes that he played with Peter, the connecting stuff that I played with Josh Jackson over the five years. Both of us really loved doing that work. There were so many different aspects of Walter, the comedy and drama and emotion and so forth. He was a fully-fledged character. So itís hard for me to say what my favorite one was, but probablyóFringe is essentially a love story and so the scenes where he had close connection with Peter, but also with Annaís character or Jasikaís character were very special to me.

J. Ruby You made me think, was it hard keeping the different Walters separate in your mind?

J. Noble Not really, no. I think the writing was there for me to play and the situations were such thatóLook, at times it was tricky. I had to be a Ö. IĒll be honest with you, that I didnít drop into the mannerisms of another version of the character, but I guess I was pretty alert to that. I used to have people on set saying, ďCan you keep an eye open for me to make sure I donít do Walter version Ö or something?Ē And sometimes particularly my camera operators would take five and say, ďJohn, thatís the wrong one.Ē

Moderator Next weíll go to Joshua Maloney with Niagara Frontier Publications.

J. Maloney John, what do you take away from the Fringe experience this past five seasons?

J. Noble Doing something of this nature was new to me. Iíd never done anything that required a five-year commitment. To build a show that seems to have kept the imagination of the world so much was a bit other worldly to be honest with you. I would go to anywhere in the world really and people would stop me in the street and talk about Fringe and how much they adored it and asked questions about it.

The international reach of Fringe, I think, still catches me by surprise a bit at times. Also, I was given the gift of a character that is every actorís dream. So you combine those two factors and itís been an incredibly memorable five years.

J. Maloney What are going to miss about working with Josh and Anna and Jasika and the whole cast?

J. Noble I guess because Iím the older fellow there I kind of think of them all as my kids in a way. I have a very special love for all of those actors and Iíll miss them. Over the five years we were given the change to develop some pretty close bonds, both with our characters and personally, and we did. I donít really know how to explain it any other way than that. Itís something that we earned over five years. It probably wouldnít have been there with two years, but with five years it was definitely and is definitely there. Itís probably a life-long bond, I imagine.

Moderator Weíll go to Marisa Rothman with

M. Rothman Walter has, it seems like, a big sacrifice coming his way in these final couple of hours. How is he handling the potential threat to his life and what that might mean for Peter in his absence?

J. Noble Gee, Marisa, you know something I donít know. Youíre a cheeky one arenít you? You always are. Marisa, Walter isówhere are we? Episode 11. We know that something radical has to happen in order to beat the Observers. I think by now weíve built up to the fact that possibly maybe Walter has to do something pretty outstanding to make this happen.

More importantly, I think, what youíll find is the way that his relationship with Peter plays out over the next two episodes, and in particular, the finale is really quite remarkable. Thatís something we had to do because we spent so much time and I know that the fans love the relationship between Peter and Walter so much and we certainly paid homage to that and brought it home, I believe, really strongly.

I would love to have had an episode with each of the characters. I do have some beautiful moments with Jasika and Anna as well. Itís good story writing in the sense that theyíve built this great big arch and theyíre going to pan out. Iím not going to tell you exactly what happens, obviously, but we do get the payout. And itís also wonderful to have Mike Cerveris back into the equation again. Heís also beenóaside from the fact that heís an amazing actor and a friend of mine; he really does add another element to our story telling.

Moderator Next weíll go to Scott Hoover with NBC.

S. Hoover I wonder if you could take me to two specific moments. First, your gut reaction once you read that final script and saw every little nuance of how the story ended. And then your last moment of production, that last day that you spent on set in this character.

J. Noble For the first one, I was naturally, I think we were all apprehensive to see what would happen in the finale. We didnít know until really quite late in the piece how Joel would finish it off. I can honestly say that it was everything that I had hoped it could possibly be. When I read it I thought that he had done a masterly job in writing in, tied up our character lines, tied up the great story arch. I couldnít imagine a better job, to be honest with you. So I was extremely elated when I read the final episodes.

The last day on set was really quite fun. We were all kind of buoyed up. It was one of those nights that go forever. I think we finished at 9:00 in the morning or something, but we had a lot of fun. I can remember we all got a fit of the giggles halfway through the night, which is probably really inappropriate. All of us were doing a scene together. I donít know. It was just hilarious. I couldnít get my lines out, which is very unusual for me. I just kept getting it wrong and we were all laughing a lot. But it was good fun. We had a wonderful time.

The last scene I did was a beautiful scene with Michael Cerveris, but backstage all the rest of the Ö were on set as well, as we do in most scenes. You give your speech afterwards and so forth. I felt really buoyed up afterwards. I didnít feel depressed. I thought that weíd really had a great finale. The last day was so much fun.

S. Hoover Does a job this good make it tricky to pick the next one?

J. Noble Yes, absolutely. I think following up withóI suppose my last two characters have been Denethor and Walter Bishop. Both will be hard acts to follow. So I donít know really, that sort of sits in the hands of my managers at present. I just have no idea whatís going to be offered to me. Iím looking forward to it though. Iíve had a month off now so Iím ready to start work again.

Moderator Weíll go to Tara Bennett with SFX Magazine.

T. Bennett Now that itís all finished and the show has had so many interesting narrative spreads that itís gone with and some that have been shorter and some that have been longer. Just Ö playing Walter and the different versions of it where there any other storylines that you wished you couldíve lingered on or gong a little deeper with because you just enjoyed or were intrigued by the story and where it was going?

J. Noble No really I think the main story lines are what always intrigued me, with those that were the relationships between the characters against whatever backdrop, whether it was in an ordinary universe or a universe in the future. I think the glue that held Fringe together was the relationships.

I know the other characters feel the same. They were the things that we really looked forward to doing. Despite what was happening was around us we would have these tenuous, sort of incredibly real and deep relationships with the other characters. Whatever situation we were in, those relationships, I believe, still carried the day. They were the things that made Fringe work.

So I think we have played those storylines out. I could look back and think, ďGee, I wonder what every happened to Ö or something of that nature, back in season two,Ē but it doesnít really concern me because what we, the body of actors, the body of characters, did was continue them anyway.

What about you? Do you miss anything?

T. Bennett No. I mean I always love seeing you and Bell. Those were always really great. So it always felt like whenever we got those moments, whether it was just their friendship, Anna played him, it was still really wonderful to see that relationship between the two of you.

Moderator Our next question is from Jim Slotek with Sun Media.

J. Slotek I have two questions. One is this show has taken such 90 degree turns narratively, almost by surprise, Iím wondering if the cast is surprised or has been in the past? You know, at what point do you find out? Do you see a script and say, ďOh gosh, Iíve got another Walter to play?Ē Or do they apprise you ahead of time that this is where itís going?

And the other question has to do with the final episode. I know in general terms you canít say anything much, but referencing T.S. Eliot, is it a bang or a whimper?

J. Noble Certainly we were surprised. I supposed an example that would encapsulate that surprise is the time that, I think in season two, when we were told to go into a sound studio and record our voices for singing. We didnít know why. We said, ďWhy are we doing this? I donít understand.Ē And of course it was for the musical episode, but we didnít know until we got the script really what we were doing. Suddenly we found out we were in this bizarre musical, which was huge fun to play, but we didnít know ahead of time.

So often it was the case that we wouldnít know which way it was going to go. Thatís okay. As actors, you donít actually need to know the future of the character. You just need to know the backgrounds. Those major shifts into the alternate universe and so forth, which were really challenging, I always found the flashbacks really interesting.

When I had to do a few episodes of flashback with the full prosthetic makeup and so forth and flash forwards and flash sideways, but the good thing about those things is they keep you very alert. Thereís no room for boredom or getting empathetic in there. I always loved the challenge. When something new happened I always used to get quite excited.

J. Slotek And the finale?

J. Noble Well itís certainly going with a bang. As I mentioned just a moment ago, I think itís one of the bestóI couldnít have imagined a better finale to be honest with you. I read it and I was like, ďOh my goodness me, heís done it. Heís done it.Ē Heís answered all these questions and heís tied off all these things that were that I had to ask. So I think heís done anówell I hope history will judge it as one of the great finales of all time. I really believe they will.

Moderator Our next question is from Sheldon Wiebe with

S. Wiebe Youíve played probably dozens of variations of Walter, if you get down into really, really picky areas, but I find thereís like four major ones from which they all spring. Thereís Walter, Walternate, Post Machine Walter, and Post Peterís Return Walter. Iím just wondering which one was easiest to find, in terms of the characterís voice, and which was the hardest and which one was really the most pure fun?

J. Noble Going backwards, the pure fun was the original Walter, who was just released from a mental institution and probably shouldnít have been. He was just fun because he could basically say and do anteing and get away with it. The most difficult Walter was the one that I had to play when there was no Peter in the world. That was really tricky. I think it was the beginning of season four. It was really tricky to play that same character but without the relationship with the son redeeming himself. He was really quite aóhe wasnít a well fellow. I mean I played him with a lot of OCD attributes. He really wasnít a very pleasant man. I found that one the most difficult to play.

I loved playing Walternate because he was the same character actually, completely the same character, version 1985 and then it developed in such a different way physically and mentally. So to be able to play that in the same television series as playing the other ones was a fantastic gift to me.

Moderator Weíll go to Kyle Nolan with

K. Nolan So youíre also hosting the Science Channelís ďDark MatterĒ series. Have you always had an interest in science or what that somewhat inspirited by working on Fringe?

J. Noble Over the last letís say 25 years, since a lot of science writing became accessible to layman, Iíve become quite a consumer of science. As a child, I wasnít streamed into science as I went into the amenities and I regret that now. I regret that that situation exists because to be honest with you I find science really sexy and at the time that I was a school kid it certainly wasnít.

So probably the last 25 years, with science becoming far more accessible to all of us, Iíve become a pretty avid reader and devourer of it. One of the objectives that I have working with Fringe channel is to get more people talking about it because itís such fun. Thatís something that I discuss with Fringe channel people quite often.

K. Nolan And after playing Walter for five years has any of his quirkiness crept into your personality?

J. Noble I donít know, probably. I donít know where the line is. I donít know how much of myself is in Walter. Thereís got to be a bit of him there. But no, I donít have any food fetishes or anything of that nature. But I love having played Walter because I suppose any actor brings a certain aspect of their own personality to their work and so I was able toóI had a fairly broad canvas to paint on there with the different versions. I guess thereís a lot of me in there somewhere.

Moderator Our next question is from Melissa Hayer with The Oklahoman.

M. Hayer You are absolutely fantastic as Walter. I was just wondering if there was anything in general you could share about working on Fringe that may surprise fans? Something they may not know.

J. Noble Thatís a hard one because weíve had such a close relationship with the fans. This has been made possibly through social networking and the Internet now. We have much more contact and we do go off to things like Comic-Con. So I think people know most of our secrets, the day-to-day run ins of things.

Working in television is very hard. I think people know that. Just the pure demand of it can really take it out of you physically and mentally, but I think our fans are pretty aware of that anyway. So noóis there something specific you have in mind, an example?

M. Hayer Just maybe if there was anything thatís been more difficult to play than others oró

J. Noble These characters are complex. Walter, letís talk about my character, is incredibly complex. I look at every scene working outóI do a lot of thinking about the work I do and trying to get the rhythms into scenes. Youíre always working with the relationships and trying to trail along another one or two or three or four or five years of relationships in behind them with different mental states.

Itís pretty demanding, but then again I love that so I wouldnít say it was Ö. It was just doing the job or trying to do the job properly. It was never a job that you could sit on our laurels or rest on your laurels, which I didnít think anyway.

M. Hayer It seems like it would be very challenging but a lot of fun at theó

J. Noble Could youóyouíre just breaking up a little bit. Could you say that again please?

M. Hayer Iím sorry. It seems like it would be very challenging to work on that show, but very fun at the same time.

J. Noble That summed it up perfectly. It was exactly that. It was very challenging and particularlyóitís basically 43 minutes of television and we were shooting that in a week. So the demands on our time wereówe really had to be on the ball and we were working with an amazing crew who were doingó

I mean I used to say, a week would go by and I would say, ďWell thatís Ö how on earth did we shoot another episode?Ē but we did, and particularly in the final season when we were shooting seven-day episodes with a reduced budget and big special effects. But the team was so polished by them that we were able to do it and I think with incredible results.

Moderator Our next question is from Monique Jones with

M. Jones What do you think was the most rewarding thing about playing Walter?

J. Noble I suppose when you start up in acting you hope to be given challenges and you always have dreams about the things you could do and couldnít do, but normally we get pigeon holed a little bit as we go on in our careers. We often get pigeon holed as a tough guy or whatever else we get pigeon holed in. Iíve sort of been, I guess, pigeon holed as sort of a heavy, serious, almost a baddy but not a baddy over the years of my work in television, particularly.

It was wonderful to be able to play a character who had so many colors, who was able to play comedy, to play incredibly vulnerable, which he did a lot of the time, to play the love story, to play the relationship with the son, which is quite unusual, particularlyóI think itís one of the strengths that fringed the relationship between the man and his son that makes it unusual and special. Thatís a gift to me, as an actor. It was like everything you could possibly hope for and not only that but to play it out over five years. So I was a very lucky actor.

M. Jones You probably answered this already earlier, but how do you hope fans react to this finale?

J. Noble The finale, I believe, I think itís the best finale Iíve ever read, just in terms of being able to tie up the five years, five years of intense work. To be able to pull it together as the way that Joel Wyman did is quite remarkable to me. So I honestly think the fans will beówell theyíll be disappointed. Thereís no question because the series is finishing, but I think theyíll be very thrilled and honored by the way that Joel has made that happen.

Moderator Weíll go to Jamie Ruby with Sci-Fi Vision.

J. Ruby Obviously we donít know whatís going to happen to Walter at the end of the show, but regardless of that in some timeline Iím sure heíll be fine. What would you like to have seen happen to Walter that didnít, if you couldíve written a script?

J. Noble No, nothing. I think what heís done with Walter is absolutely perfect. If you had asked me in season one where I thought Walter should finish up, it wouldíve been exactly where he does. Thatís the remarkable thingówhen I say I think itís a great finale thatís the reason why. I think itís the perfect out for Walter.

Iím truly grateful to the writers for giving me that, because over the years when Iíve spoken about the character with them Iíve always felt that this would be the perfect way to end and complete his journey, to complete the journey of this series and they gave it to me. So Iím incredibly grateful. I wouldnít have wanted it any other way.

J. Ruby How do you choose your roles?

J. Noble A lot of the times roles are chosen for us, to be honest with you. Something will be offered. I donít know, it might be different for people that are A-list actors, but a lot of us really look at whatís offered to us and look for something that sort of has some traction with other people. But itís not like I read 100 scripts a week and sort of pick and choose. Maybe some actors do. I certainly donít do that.

Iím a character actor, as against a personality actor. So as a character actor Iím always looking for something interesting. I remember when I read Walter, for example, and that was now six years ago, I said, ďThis is the role for me.Ē I said that to my family, ďThis is the role for me.Ē So there was something there that I knew was absolutely right, and that was just based on the Ö of the character. So thatís when gut instinct comes into play I think. I know there are certain things I wonít do.

Moderator Weíll go to the line of Steve Sunu with Spinoff Online.

S. Sunu Looking to the future, one of the other projects youíve got coming down the line is the ďSuperman: UnboundĒ animated movie where youíre going to play the villain Brainiac. Did you find it was easier to transition into that role considering your experience playing sort of the mad scientist version of Walter?

J. Noble Doing animation is great fun. Itís like a different world. You basically go in there and itís all in the imagination. There arenít even pictures up there to look at. As you know, you usually go in there and create, working with whoever the director is; you just create this voice and this character. Later on maybe youíll have a look at the picture associated.

For me, itís a totally different process than doing a film or a stage play, but I love it. Itís incredibly intense work but I love doing the voice work. And then at the end of the day itís like the prize to see some huge monster with your voice attached to it. The two to me are technically in different ballparks.

J. Governale Thank you, everyone, for your time this morning and this afternoon. John, I hope your Friday is off to a good start in Australia. We will catch up soon.

J. Noble Thanks, Josh.

Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, this conference is available for replay. That does conclude your conference for today. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

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