Interview with Joshua Jackson of "Fringe"
on FOX 9/16/09
I'm always happy to do these interviews with TV stars,
writers, and producers. FOX has been good to me lately, along with some
of the other nets like TNT, SyFy, USA and A&E. I wonder when the other
nets will figure out that these conference call interviews with websites
and other press are very cheap publicity for them?
I love Joshua Jackson. Honestly, he is gorgeous. So
this is not an unbiased article whatsoever. He was my favorite
thing about Dawson's Creek. I didn't really care who Joey or Dawson
ended up with. I loved Pacey, and I loved him best with Audrey, although
really it didn't matter because I just loved him. Joshua Jackson
has been awesome on Fringe as well, where he plays a much darker
character than Pacey. It's just good scifi, too, which I always
appreciate. I missed the interview with him last year, so I was
doubly-grateful to get to speak with him this year, even if it was for
only one question. He was very gracious and kind to all, and he seemed
I hope you enjoy this. I found Jackson to be very funny
First here is some news about the new episode of Fringe,
which will debut tonight.
NEW CASES AND ENDLESS IMPOSSIBILITES EMERGE
ON THE SEASON PREMIERE OF "FRINGE"
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, ON FOX
In the stunning first season finale, Olivia traveled to an intriguing
parallel universe where she met Massive Dynamic founder William Bell
(guest star Leonard Nimoy). Season Two opens with Olivia's shocking return
to this reality, and Peter, unknowingly in a race against time with an
ominous mobile force, pursues information about Olivia's perplexing visit
to the alternate reality. Meanwhile, Walter reenters the lab to cook up a
bit of fringe science, and of course, some custard for someone's birthday
in the "A New Day in the Old Town" season premiere episode of FRINGE
airing Thursday, Sept. 17 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Here is some information on Joshua Jackson.
Well known as the fast-talking, self-deprecating "Pacey Witter" from
"Dawson's Creek," Joshua Jackson has been working in front of the camera
for over 15 years, and was just seen starring in the well-received
independent Canadian feature film "One Week."
Recently, Jackson enjoyed a successful run on London's West End starring
in "A Life in the Theatre" alongside Patrick Stewart. The acclaimed comedy
was written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oscar-nominated David Mamet.
Jackson's feature film debut was in Michael Bortman's "Crooked Hearts,"
which he followed up with the "Mighty Ducks" trilogy, "Digger" and "Andre
the Seal." Jackson's additional credits include "Bobby" for director
Emilio Estevez, the psychological thriller "Shutter," "The Skulls," Rose
Troche's acclaimed drama "The Safety of Objects," the HBO Films version of
Moises Kaufman's groundbreaking play "The Laramie Project" and "Aurora
Borealis" as a troubled young man opposite Donald Sutherland. He had noted
cameos in Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's 11," "Scream 2," "Urban Legend" and
"I Love Your Work." His additional feature film credits include "Cursed,"
"Gossip," Bryan Singer's "Apt Pupil" and "Cruel Intentions."
A Vancouver, Canada native, Jackson divides his time between his
hometown and Los Angeles.
Now, here is the transcript of the conference call/interview.
FBC PUBLICITY: Fringe Conference Call
September 16, 2009/1:30 p.m. EDT
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to
the Fringe conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only
mode and shortly we will be having a question and answer session, with
instructions being given at that time. As a reminder, todayís conference is
being recorded and Iíll now hand it over to Josh Governale for any opening
J. Governale Good morning, everyone; thank you for your time today for
Josh Jackson. Just a couple opening remarks. As a reminder, Fringe opens its
second season tomorrow on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. So without further delay,
Iíll turn it over to Josh Jackson for questions and answers.
J. Jackson Good morning, everybody.
Moderator Weíll go to the line of David Martindale with Hearst
Newspapers. Please go ahead.
D. Martindale Hello, Joshua, love the show; youíre really wonderful in
it. By the way, I think I saw the Observer at my softball game the other night;
I was very concerned.
J. Jackson The showís increasing the paranoia in everybody around
D. Martindale What do you enjoy more as an actor or even as a viewer,
when you get to do an episode in which thereís lots of action, fighting, racing
around or when itís crazy science elements or when itís simply doing a scene
with the cow?
J. Jackson The cowís a diva; itís a little known fact. Sheís not very
giving. I donít know that I have a particular favorite. I think if I did any one
of those things too much each one would become boring in their way. The hope is
to try and balance those things out as much as possible, if not in every
episode, in every couple of episodes. I would tell you that the thing I spend
the time thinking about is trying to keep the dynamic between Peter and Walter
truthful and growing, but the beauty of being on a television show is that you
get to do a little bit of everything all the time.
D. Martindale You get to do some good stuff. Iíll play fair and come back
with another question.
Moderator Our next question comes from the line of Paige Albiniak of New
York Post. Please go ahead.
P. Albiniak What is your reaction when you get the scripts and itís some
new crazy thing that theyíre bringing into the story?
J. Jackson Thatís the beauty of our show; if we donít have a new crazy
thing, somethingís gone horribly wrong so I take it always as a positive thing.
Each week itís a little bit of a science lesson for the class, itís a little bit
of a vocabulary lesson for the class and it always presents you with some other
As a fan, the things that I like most about our show, the genre that our show is
in is the bigger story rather than the individual creepy, gooey stuff. What
weíve done pretty well is to make each one of the creepy, gooey things add up
into a much bigger story. Thatís the thing that I peak out on that I thing is so
P. Albiniak Iím not going to play fair; Iím going to follow-up. Did you
see the twist in the finale coming?
J. Jackson Hold on; youíre telling me that The New York Post isnít
playing fair? I donít get it.
P. Albiniak We try not to as a rule.
J. Jackson Did I see the twist coming in the finale? Which one?
P. Albiniak The twist involving you.
J. Jackson They thankfully gave me a heads-up a couple months before that
happened so that I didnít read it and think that I had been fired. It sounds a
little bit like a tag line, but it is the truth. The great thing about our show
is that if we can dream it we can do it. I donít think anybody really saw that
twist coming. I was only told about it four or five months in advance, but I
think thatís amazing. To put the last frame of the show in the World Trade
Center is incredible. I love our show for that. It should keep on pushing
boundaries and envelopes like that.
Moderator Our next question comes from the line of Joshua Maloni of
Niagara Frontier Publications.
J. Maloni Hello, Josh, thanks for your time today.
J. Jackson No problem. Thereís a lot of Joshís on this call.
J. Maloni I know, itís a good name, right?
J. Jackson It is a good name.
J. Maloni Going forward now what can you tell us about that particular
story line? How much do you know as far as what we can expect towards the first
half of season or so of that particular story line, as I said?
J. Jackson The Peter story line or the Olivia story line?
J. Maloni The Peter story line.
J. Jackson The Peter story line, what I love so much about that beyond
the ďainít-it- cool factor is now the audience knows something about Peter that
he doesnít know about himself, something crucial about him that he doesnít know
about himself. We come to find out that this is a large part of the guilt that
Walter carries around is that he baby-snatched Peter as a young boy. Inevitably
that information had to come out so while I donít know the particulars much
further than the episode that Iím shooting right now I do think eventually that
has to come to a head and it will lead to a conflict between the two guys.
The entire first season for Peter and Walter was about this father and son
reconnecting through the craziness of their circumstances and actually becoming
something of a family, a very dysfunctional family, but something of a family.
And Season Two has carried that forth. In the beginning Peter is really invested
now in being part of this team and actually belonging to this fringe family, but
eventually heís going to find out that this horrible happened to him as a child
and thatís going to blow up his relationship with Walter and probably with
Olivia I would imagine. To me, thatís the great thing hanging over Peter the
entire season and it gives me something to move toward as they go forward.
J. Maloni Looking forward to it, thanks for your time.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Suzanne Lanoue of the TV MegaSite.
Please go ahead.
S. Lanoue Do you think that Peter and Olivia will have some sort of
romantic relationship or do hope that they donít? What are your feelings about
J. Jackson My estimation I just kind of said it a second ago, which is
that I feel like this is more of a family dynamic than a romantic dynamic.
Whatís unique and whatís great about our show is, as opposed to having just a
leading man and a leading lady, you have this crazy father in the center of it.
That would be a very, very awkward love triangle so I donít think theyíre going
to go in that direction. I see Peter and Olivia as more brother and sister
rather than lovers on this show. Where theyíre going to take it, I have no idea,
but for right now I run under the assumption that this is father, son, daughter
rather than boyfriend, girlfriend, dad.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Brian Fitzpatrick of
B. Fitzpatrick Peterís sarcasm is a huge selling point for my wife and me
and a lot of other viewers, Iím guessing it got us addicted to the series
J. Jackson Joshís sarcasm is not really all that welcomed in my household
sometimes. Ö call my girlfriend.
B. Fitzpatrick Iíll keep that in mind if I get a chance. We really like
the interplay between Walter and Peter and the asides that Peter obviously has.
How much of the sarcasm is improvised versus scripted and how much is you versus
J. Jackson Iíll give the writers credit. Iíd say most of those lines are
written, though there is, particularly in the scenes with John, John and I have
a very strong working rapport and heís a very playful actor. I mean that in a
good way that he likes to keep things live and so you keep on testing and
trying. Just to toot my own horn, I feel like Iím a bit that way myself. So I
think a lot of the humor of those moments comes out of the two of us just
playing around until we figure out something that pops out of it, though the
scenarios are definitely written. I would say that Peterís a much more cynical
man than Josh is; his sarcasm has a tendency to be a lot darker than my sense of
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Tara Bennett at SFX Magazine.
Please go ahead.
S. Bennett When we first met you in the first season we got a sense of
this kind of dark background that you had, doing arms dealing and such. Will we
get back to that and what he was doing in his life away from his father and
Ölife that heís got now?
J. Jackson Yes. We actually delved right into that very early in the
season. We kept on hinting at it last year, but never showing it and itís not a
problem of the format of the show. Itís not called Peterís Fringe. Itís
difficult to put these charactersí back-stories into the show. Thatís not true,
not their back-stories; itís difficult to put their outside lives into the show.
Does that make sense?
S. Bennett Absolutely.
J. Jackson Each episode has a central focus; however, we immediately
understood what it was, what function Walter has as part of this Fringe team and
we spent the first season explaining exactly why Olivia Dunham in particular, as
opposed to any other FBI agent, had to be the center of this Fringe team. What
we never really got into until the final episode, the final frames of the final
episode, was why it is specifically that Peter needs to be a part of this. Now
that weíve brought him in, this season weíve gone a lot deeper into actually
showing rather than just talking about this prior life that he had.
S. Bennett Is pulling there an aspect of that Öaspect of the character
that are inciting you to play?
J. Jackson Absolutely. Itís the thing that drew me into the character in
the very beginning, the idea that he has, not even gray, a very black past that
he was in a way running from and in another way wants to run back to. Oddly,
being an arms dealer and being generally not a very good person is probably
simpler for him emotionally than having to deal with his father and to confront
all these things from his childhood.
Moderator Our next question will come from the line of Stacy Harrison of
Tribune Media Services.
S. Harrison During its first season, Fringe was one of those shows that
seemed to sort of steadily gain an audience before it really broke out and
became a hit. Was there a particular moment during the season either from
watching the show or from seeing the fans where you really knew that it was
J. Jackson Thereís always a lag time for those of us who work on the show
between making it and the reaction because, of course, it takes six weeks for it
to get on the air. But I think internally, Iím pretty sure Iím not alone in
this, but the first big cliffhanger when Dunham gets kidnapped, I think itís in
Episode Eleven, sort of a two-part episode that ends Öcalled safe and I think
thatís sort of creatively when the show really hit its stride in the first
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Charlotte Cowles with Sling.com.
(Heavy echo on audio) C. Cowles I know that J.J. Abrams said that he was trying to keep the
series accessible to new viewers so that ifÖnew viewers. Do you think that you
J. Jackson Yes. Weíre just starting the eighth episode this year and I
would say that we are, I guess the eighth episode is a mythology-heavy episode.
Iíd say weíre about 50/50 for episodes that are heavy into the big back-stories
and stories that are just sort of one-off investigations. The idea is also that
regardless of whether itís a mythology episode or part of the larger story or
not, each one of these investigations in every episode will always have a
beginning, middle and end. Even it is a heavy mythology episode you can still
tune in and get a satisfying story as opposed to tuning in to the story halfway
Everybody uses Lost as an example and letís use it again because itís J. J.ís
show. Lost is a fantastic show, but each one of those episodes doesnít really
have a beginning, middle and end, itís part of a continuing story. So if you
donít know the things that have come before itís incredibly difficult to just
drop in, which is just what Lost is. We should be so lucky to be as good as Lost
on our show. The difference being that the format of our show lends itself to
simpler storytelling, which is that every week thereíll be something that this
group of people has to investigate. Sometimes itís going to lead them to learn
something about the larger story that theyíre investigating that if you donít
know anything about that, you probably wonít be engaged by that. But regardless
it will still come to an end that episode. Does that make sense?
Thatís one of the conceits of Fringe that if you want to pay attention every
week and please do, right, Josh Governale; if you want to pay attention every
week thereís a lot of story being told all the time, but if you just want to
tune in, drop in for a fun hour away where you get to cringe at the bad stuff
and root for the good guys and hiss at the bad guys, thereís that aspect, too.
It doesnít turn you away at the door.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Allan Dart at Starlog.
A. Dart Like any new show, Fringe had its share of ups-and-downs during
the year, but then I think it had a really strong second half. When do you think
the show really found its own voice, its own style and what kind of show it
wanted and should be?
J. Jackson Like I said earlier, I think right around the midway point of
last season the show sort of decided what it wanted to be. From about the midway
point it got on a pretty good streak of episodes there from, I think, either Ten
and Eleven or Eleven and Twelve or Twelve and Thirteen, I canít remember the
exact number, but the two-part episode where Dunham gets kidnapped. After that
it was pretty clear; we introduced the bad guys for the season and there was a
much clearer narrative drive through the rest of the season.
I would say, though, that I donít think the look of the show changed. I think
visually the show always knew what it wanted to be. I think that what we were
trying to figure out was the alchemy, what proportion was going to be a
serialized show, what proportion was going to be one-off. We were still
discovering who the character was. I think it was much more about the
storytelling than it was about the look of the show in the first season, like
every show, frankly, has to figure out.
A. Dart Nice reply, thank you very much for your time.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Lena Lamoray of Lenalamoray.com.
L. Lamoray Has working on Fringe altered your perception of public
transportation and pretty much everything else?
J. Jackson Strangely, I still fly which you would image that you would be
a little nervous as you worked on the show. No it hasnít really altered my
perception of public transportation too much. In fact, I still take public
transit to work; I guess Fringe has inoculated me.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Simon Bacal of Entaction.com.
Please go ahead.
S. Bacal Iíve got a couple of questions, the first one has kind of a
humorous thing towards it. Obviously the show deals with parallel universes. Has
this opened up your mind to the idea of parallel universes and what do you think
about the probability that there might be a parallel version of yourself in some
J. Jackson I do think this idea is part of the zeitgeist right now. Maybe
itís my West Coast, liberal upbringing, but the idea of parallel universes
doesnít really strike me as being too far out there. After the 60s and after all
the psychedelia and the doors of perception and what-have-you, I donít think
itís really all that far out.
What defies my imagination is that there would be nothing out there that would
defy my imagination and maybe itís because Iím a sci-fi fan. It just seems like
the only justifiable position that a human can have in 2009 is humility in the
face of the universe. Weíre learning so much and everything that we learn, itís
like that Carl Sagan thing, the candle in the dark. Every time the candle gets a
little bit brighter it only serves to illuminate how much we still donít know.
S. Bacal The showís being called a cross between, I guess, The X Files
and Dark Angel and a couple other sci-fi shows. Whatís your opinion about that?
J. Jackson Whatís the Dark Angel aspect?
S. Bacal Thatís what I read actually, somewhere.
J. Jackson I donít really get what the Dark Angel reference would be, oh,
maybe because Dunham was experimented on when she was a kid perhaps. I donít
know. I think The X Files is a more fair comparison, but even in the opening
credits, The X Files, by design, dealt with things that were supposed to be part
of the paranormal, what Fringe is trying to say is that these things that we
would normally classify as fantastical are actually part of the normal. They all
have legitimate explanations in the scientific world; they canít be chalked up
to alien possession or fairies or Dracula.
Moderator Next weíll go to the line of Lauren Davis of IO9. Please go
L. Davis Youíre a big science fiction fan. I was wondering if Fringe
satisfies all of your science fiction needs or is there some science fiction
plotline out there that youíre really just dying to do.
J. Jackson Dying to do, did you say, or dying to watch?
L. Davis Dying to do.
J. Jackson Of course, Fringe doesnít fill up the science fiction quotient
of my acting life. I donít know if thereís any particular; itís hard to say that
youíd be dying to do something because itís probably already been done, but
thereís an infinite number of stories out there. There are plenty of books that
I read as a young man that I would love to turn into movies, some of which have
already been turned into movies.
It is a ton of fun for a guy who loves science fiction to be working on a
science fiction show. Like I said to the guy before you, none of the concepts
that are raised on this show are entirely foreign to me or do they seem that far
out there, but Iíve never worked on a show before where we get to actually
explore those ideas.
L. Davis Is there anything in particular that you would be interested in
J. Jackson Any particular --?
L. Davis Work of science fiction or type of story.
J. Jackson Youíd have to be more specific. Itís such a gigantic genre.
L. Davis I guess any book in particular?
J. Jackson Any singular book? I would have loved to be part of Lord of the Rings
and now theyíre making a Hobbit. Iím not in that either. I guess Iíll have to
wait for The Silmarillian.
Moderator We have time for one more question and that will come from the
line of Troy Rogers of deadbolt.com; please go ahead.
T. Rogers Iím actually sitting up here in Vancouver and I just wanted to
know how it feels to back in your neighborhood filming again.
J. Jackson My hometown, where are you?
T. Rogers In the West End; Iím on Barclay Street.
J. Jackson Enjoying what is probably what is the second or third gray day
of the entire summer. It feels pretty damn good; itís a guilty pleasure to be
able to come home after all these years. Thereís really not a more beautiful
place on earth than Vancouver in the summer.
T. Rogers What does the city actually add to the show, do you think?
J. Jackson Weíre just getting into the time of year where I think the
city will add a lot. The gray rainy-ness of it all actually seemed to add to
sort of the natural moodiness of a show like Fringe; I think thatís a positive.
Then whereas last year we were in New York, which has all of the obvious things
that New York and that backdrop add, itís difficult to shoot there because there
are the other 14 million people that you have to deal with. It makes our
production life, I think, a lot easier being up here, just the things that
youíre allowed and capable of doing on the streets of Vancouver.
T. Rogers One more quick thing; you mentioned that youíre a big sci-fi
fan. I just want to know what itís like working with Leonard Nimoy.
J. Jackson Iíve been shafted so far; in fact Iím going to lodge a formal
complaint through this conference call. Leonardís been up here twice and while I
did get to meet him and thatís cool, I have yet to be able to do a scene with
him and I think thatís un-cool. Thatís something that needs to be added to the
Peter and Walter Bishop, I mean William Ö, scene tout de suite.
Moderator Any closing remarks, Mr. Jackson?
J. Jackson Thanks, all of you, for taking a half hour out of your day
today. Tell everybody you know to tell everybody that they know to watch the
show tomorrow night.
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