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Peter Weller Talks About Guest Starring on Fringe (And More): Part II

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During yesterday’s interview, Peter Weller didn't only have spoilers and insights about the plot to share with those of us lucky to get to talk to him; he also had some interesting insights about science fiction which I think both Fringe fans and Peter Weller fans are going to enjoy. And so, just like with the John Noble interview, here are some of the best bits from the interview. And if you haven’t watched Fringe’s episode “White Tulip” yet, there are some spoilers ahead.

Why he chose to accept the role despite his reservations:

"I have to tell you honestly; I’m very discerning about primetime television, you know, guest stars. A lot of it’s entertaining, but sort of hamstrung stuff, but Fringe is unique. Fringe is the best that science fiction can be. It’s fantastic and it’s entertaining, but at the same time has a humanist theme to it of people, places and things and relationships.

Why he likes Fringe and is going to start watching it regularly now that he has guest starred on it:

"… I’m in Italy right now so I can’t watch the show, but we record the show now. … Thank goodness for TiVo … The thing is that when you're part of a show and you read it and you see an episode or two, then you become hooked on it. The same thing happened with me and 24 and now it’s happened with Fringe."

What he thinks of “White Tulip”:

"This episode is truly one of the most profound and entertaining and enjoyable jobs I’ve had in motion pictures or television or theatre that I can remember.  I haven’t even seen it but I know it’s good.  It may be even great. But it’s just extraordinarily worthwhile from the personal experience of the crew and the cast to this script. It was wonderful. It was just wonderful.  As Shakespeare said, ‘Wonderful, wonderful and yet most wonderful.’"

How it was working with the crew and cast of Fringe:

"It was [the director’s] first directing gig. He’s one of the two DPs, and he was fabulous. He had a structure and within the structure, John and I got to invent and John is a very inventor actor. John is a workhouse. John has been around the block, man. He’s done theatre and everything, so it’s not like the director was working with a couple of guys at a diner, a couple of newbies. …

The director really gave me a lot of leeway to work with stuff. He was great. He was terrific. It was as if he’d been directing all his life. And a lot of times you get a DP and many times they don’t make [good] directors … because they’re so obsessed with a look and a shot that they can’t leave the room for actors to play. 

… all Josh [Jackson] and I did was smoke a cigar together and talk about Vancouver and cigars. We didn’t talk about sci-fi at all. …

[The show] has this fantastic egalitarian accessibility of everyone on it. It’s magic. They say in the Mafia, where I am right now in Southern Italy, the fish stinks at the head, which means if you’ve got a son of a b**** running the thing, everybody feels like a son of a b****. This show is the antithesis of that. This show is a gift of creation and a wonderful place to create. The writers were available to me on the phone. The directors were available to me night and day. The crew was extraordinarily, unbelievably helpful. The cast was nothing but gems, three gifted people and I had a ball. I just had an absolute ball."

What he thinks of science fiction:

"[Science fiction is] sort of like an autobiography of the world. [History is] a linear sort of record of the great events in the world. And then you have intersecting it vertically or thematically, science fiction; the what-ifs, the what if we did this; the whole thing outside of our linear experience. That’s the great gift of science fiction. … If you have any kind of inventive mind at all, you go racing with it. … I don’t understand science that much. I’m not a scientist and I’m not really good at mathematics. But science fiction is just an extraordinarily imaginative trope.

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  • Wal Heinrich

    Peter Weller is an awesome actor with loads of charisma that facilitates playing both hero and villain. What type he plays in Fringe, I am not sure, a bit of both rolled into one. Fascinating to hear his views on life especially his travel abroad which has obviously opened his mind up to all sorts of possibilities. Great interview.

  • Sahar

    I’m really glad you enjoyed the interview, Wal. Your comment is all the more interesting that his role in Fringe is a sympathetic antagonist, which he portrays beautifully. If you are a sci-fi fan, you should watch this episode even though you don’t watch Fringe, it’s well worth your time!