First Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek and now Peter Weller of Robocop — Fringe's guest stars are becoming a who's who of Geek Nation and we love it.
Some geeks were really happy to have the opportunity to talk to Peter Weller today about Fringe's upcoming episode, "White Tulip." While Fringe was always tension-laden, last week's episode, this week's, and probably next week's are going to be laden with an extra layer of tension as fans anticipate when and how Peter will learn of his alternate-worldly origins.
A word to the wise: there are some spoilers ahead.
In a recent press release, FOX tells us that Peter Weller's character is "a very powerful man who has tremendous energy with severe consequences." The tagline itself is enough to make fans' eyes bug out: "Fringe Division has faced many dangers before. But never one who could strike anywhere in any time." According to the little information we got through the press release and in the promo, Peter Weller's character, Alistair Peck, can time travel and has something to do with sucking the electrical energy out of people.
But the episode isn't only about a monster-of-the-week, but rather is a story about love. The episode is about love, the desire of love, and the loss of people you love.
Rings a bell? Well, it should, as Alistair Peck's story parallels that of Walter Bishop. While the latter, having lost his own son, went through a portal into the alternate universe to save the life of the alternate version of his son, the former is going to go back in time to save his fiancée from dying. But while Walter had nothing to do with the cause of Peter's death (that we know of, of course), Peck's involvement in his fiancée's death is direct. Peter Weller explained that she died because of a mistake he made and, even more poignantly, after a misunderstanding that the two had. It's no wonder then that all Peck wants is to go back in time to the only person who ever meant anything to him.
The romantic and moving storyline were the major challenge for Weller. He pointed out that one of the reasons that Fringe is such an amazing show isn't only because of the quality of the sci-fi in it, but also because of the heavy focus on the human side of the story. Typically, sci-fi movies can have pages and pages of script focused on action, complete with chases and gun scenes. Weller found it challenging and incredibly interesting to have, as an integral part of the script for an episode of a sci-fi show, four pages of explanation and dialog that are not only extremely well written, but that are dramatic scenes that justify the love inspiring the protagonist's choices, as well as his need to pursue his path of action and his attachment to his family.
It was all the more challenging for Weller to bring all these emotions alive as the plotline is quite upsetting; a Method actor, Weller had to try to imagine what losing his own wife would feel like. It wasn't easy for him to imagine the sorrow of losing the person who is the most precious to you in the world.
Speaking of wife, it seems that we owe her for getting Peter Weller to look into the offer to guest star in an episode of Fringe. Peter Weller wasn't really a Fringe fan before his involvement with the series. He watched it at times, but not regularly, and definitely not as avidly as his wife, who is a Fringie. And so, while Weller at first wasn't too sure about this offer — he is a little discerning about anything that has to do with prime time television guest stars — he decided to give it a chance.
Two factors weighed heavily on his decision. First is, of course, his wife. Second is the fact that Fringe is, in Weller's own words, "the best that sci-fi can be; not only is it well thought out and makes science geeks happy, but it also brings a heavy human factor into the equation."
What sealed the deal was the script for "White Tulip." As mentioned above, the script included a four-page scene that was centered on the human experience at the heart of the show, which is something you don't see enough of in sci-fi.
This week's Fringe science is going to be centered around time travel. Peter Wellers' view on sci-fi and time travel was really interesting. If history is a linear record of all the events in the world, then sci-fi can been seen as vertical intersections of what-if and what-could-be. It makes fantastic voyages possible, especially those that take the linear concept of time and turn it into a malleable one.
By the way, if you're wondering where the sucking up of electrical energy comes in, it has to do with the concept of time travel developed for this episode, which involves Peck sucking the energy of the place where he lands. It really made my nerdy sense tingle.
Tune in tomorrow night for "White Tulip" starring Peter Weller, and check back in to Blogcritics tomorrow for the second part of the Peter Weller interview.