Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TwoCents and Five Questions With...

...John Noble, Actor

Dr. Walter Bishop is crazy. But he is also very loveable (I, personally, want to buy him a Root Beer) and a sometimes bit scary (I would not want him to be my doctor), depending on the time of day you talk to him. John Noble plays Walter to a tee on the hit series Fringe, which airs Tuesdays on FOX at 9:00 PM EST. John took some time to sit down with us and talk about the show, his character, and, of course, Gene the Cow.

Question: How do you approach the character of Walter and how much fun is he to play?

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[photo: FOX.com]

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  1. Q: How do you approach the character of Walter and how much fun is it to play?

    John Noble: Well, the second part of it, 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. I mean it’s a great group of people to work with, and amazing scripts from the minds of J.J. Abrams and other people. They’re geniuses. Living inside their heads much is a very strange thing to do because they’re always coming up with something different. Overall, fantastic experience.

    Q: As a cast member, do you find it challenging to follow all the of twists and turns of the show?

    JN: Yes, absolutely! But I could also say that, as an audience member, I kind of enjoy reading things that make me concentrate or watching things that make me concentrate, and so, you know, that’s what Fringe does. And 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? So I mean it’s fascinating to be watching something that does require concentration.

    Q: “Walter” is this incredibly genial fun character, but he’s also got this menace behind him, which we saw when he drugged “Astrid,” when we discovered he was doing experiments on “Peter” as a child. How do you balance being this sort of cuddly guy when all of a sudden we find out, he’s kind of scary?

    JN: Yes. It’s the dark side to stuff, isn’t it? I guess it exists in all of us. But with “Walter,” because of who he is and how he is and how bright he is and how disturbed he is, it just sort of surfaces a bit more often and a bit more radically than it does in most of us. I don’t find it that hard to find. I mean taking each moment when I’m doing a scene, I take each second and look at what’s gone through at that point, and sometimes those reactions just come out, to be honest with you, out of frustration, the character’s frustration, or out his greater purpose, whatever, out of his madness. But it’s certainly interesting to play, and it shocks the people I’m playing with at times. You see these shocked reactions from the other actors, but that all makes some good fun too.

    Q: “Walter” has arguably some of the best dialogue on TV today. Have you found it difficult or perhaps challenging would be a better word to play a character who not only has very technical, scientific dialog, but also has an extremely non-linear thought process?

    JN: No! I don’t know what it says about me, but I haven’t actually found it very hard at all. I hesitate to give you that answer, but no, I haven’t. I don’t. I find it fun. I don’t know, I’ve always been attracted to that sort of humor anyway, and I guess around our home, I mean all of us use that sort of offbeat humor, so it wasn’t so difficult. And trailing off great lines of what sometimes sound like nonsense also appeals apparently, so I do that occasionally. No, it wasn’t too hard. Well, what I’m saying is that I enjoy doing it. It’s not something that I find terribly difficult and have to worry about. I mean it comes certainly naturally, I think.

    Q: What have been some of your favorite scenes or moments thus far in the series that we’ve seen?

    JN: Yes. Well, anything to do with the cow. Anything to do with the cow, I mean, I adore working with the cow. It just makes – the cow makes me laugh. I don’t know why. Everyone gets all sort of gooey and funny when the cow comes in. And then, of course, I got to milk the cow and, you know, because they rang up and said, “Do you need some coaching to milk a cow?” And I said, “Certainly not. I could milk a cow. I’m a country boy,” so that was great fun milking the cow. I don’t know.

    It just – the one where … in the pilot where we’re eating Chinese watching “Sponge Bob,” and that cow was on our necks, myself and Jasika. That was the funniest thing because it was nuzzling up against us trying to get the Chinese food. It wouldn’t stay until I gave it some, but it was just the funniest night doing that scene about 4:00 in the morning. Those sorts of things, there’s a whole lot of them.

    One of my favorite games at present is to try and make – I’ve got this thing where I 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.

    Well, John, you sure do make US smile! Tune into Fringe Tuesdays on FOX at 9:00 PM EST to see just how wonderful Walter really is!


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