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John Noble Loves Playing A Scientist on the Fringe of Madness

To celebrate November sweeps, Fringe’s very charming and very talented John Noble (Walter Bishop) gave a conference call interview, during which he discussed Walter’s relationship with his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), where he draws inspiration for his character, and just how much fun he has playing the mad scientist.

The question on how much fun he has playing the character opened the interview. Noble laughed and answered, “It’s as much fun as it looks like. I mean it’s an absolute hoot playing. It’s obviously got serious aspects to it, but I treat it as a hoot to play the thing. Preparation, well, that’s probably the hardest bit, getting the timing right and doing the preparation on the scientific work. But working on Fringe is a great job.”

John NobleDespite being on Fringe, Noble admitted that he has to work to keep up with the twists and turns of the plots. He doesn’t see that as a drawback, though, and said, "As an audience member, I kind of enjoy reading things that make me concentrate or watching things that make me concentrate … I watched an episode on Tuesday night, and I was in it, but there were things I missed, and I said, 'What was that? What did they say there?' It’s fascinating to be watching something that does require concentration."

The actor said that he has always had a good head for theoretical, if not practical, science, and that he based a lot of Walter on a good friend of his from university with whom he used to talk science. He noted, "Whatever he did, it was with complete and utter focus. That’s one of the aspects that Walter has as well."

John Noble and Joshua JacksonThis brought up the question about just how focused Walter can be, at the expense of his family life, and Noble agreed that "Walter is incredibly focused, myopic when he has a task to do, and really other things become secondary." Given that his son, Peter, was sometimes one of those "other things," the Fringe star said both he and co-star Joshua Jackson found the father/son relationship "was something that touched us both and interested us both, and so we became very animated right from the beginning, Josh Jackson and I, about the responsibility of playing this correctly, getting this right. And we still talk about it. We still get excited about it."

Noble also enjoys the developing relationships with Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole). On Jasika, he said, "She is such a funny girl. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for her eventually, but she’s a very, very funny woman. And the one with Olivia is fascinating because that’s far deeper. My sense is that Walter starts to feel almost paternal towards her."

On the subject of relationships with co-stars, Noble laughed when asked if he and Blair Brown (Nina Sharp) would share some scenes.

Absolutely has to be. Absolutely has to be, I mean, apart from the fact that Blair and I want to work together. That’s just a personal thing. But she’s already been interviewed and said, 'Yes, Walter and' – what did she say? 'Walter and Nina used to be together.' She’s invented this whole scenario. The first time I ever met the woman, when we did a read through the first time, she said, 'Well, down the track, I can see that we’ll finish up having a bit of go.' She’s a very funny woman. That’s the theory that somewhere down the line, maybe they were even together, which is absolutely feasible, and it’ll be, I’m sure, a very interesting challenge working with Blair Brown. She’s a smashing actress.

Asked about Lance Reddick (Broyles), he said, "One of my favorite games at present is to try and make Broyles laugh because Lance Reddick plays it to a tee. So I go out of my way whenever I have a scene to try and make him laugh. Of course, as actors, we have great fun with this because, in rehearsals, I succeed. But as soon as the cameras roll, there’s no way. It’s going to be absolute headlines across the nation. 'Broyles Smiles’ one day."

Despite the praise for his co-stars, Noble had a surprising choice for his favourite scene so far: "Anything to do with the cow, I mean, I adore working with the cow."

About Gerry Weaver

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Thanks for this, Gerry. I’m glad John Noble has fun as Walter Bishop, because he’s so much fun to watch in the role. In fact he’s a large part of what makes Fringe the first broadcast series I’ve made any effort to follow in this entire decade.

  • Gerry

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! John Noble is charming, funny and articulate–a very enjoyable interview. I think his sense of fun and his intelligence infuse the role and make Walter so entertaining to watch.