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Gilles Nuytens

John Noble interview (2)

Date of publishing: 30th October 2008

John Noble interview - Fringe John Noble is an Australian film, television actor, and theatre director of more than 80 plays. He was born in Port Pirie, South Australia. He makes occasional appearances on the television series All Saints. He is internationally best known for his performance as Denethor in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King film. He played Russian Consul Anatoly Markov in the sixth season of the American television series 24 and "Meurik" in Stargate SG-1's last episode of season 9. His most recent work is as mentally unstable scientist Walter Bishop in the J. J. Abrams television series Fringe, which premiered in September 2008. Visit also: www.johnnoble.net

 

John Noble interview - FringeGilles Nuytens: Well, what interested you in Fringe and how did you get involved, you are not a newcomer in the business, so was that a proposal from the studios or was it a normal audition process?
John Noble: Initially the JJ Abrams name caught my attention. The script was very ambitious and the role was amazing. I sent a tape from Australia and was cast from that.

Gilles Nuytens: Your character is someone that has lived for 17 years in a psychiatric institute, how did you approach the mental aspects of Dr. Bishop, was it as challenging as we could imagine, and what was the most difficult part playing someone so unstable?
John Noble: Research is the answer to playing this type of role, both medical and scientific... I was determined to develop the character based on all available medical information, and I read widely on the fringe science that was practised during the cold war. I also read about the well- known scientific 'geniuses'. Einstein, Newton, Galilleo, Darwin, and others.

Gilles Nuytens: A bit similar question, usually when a script is good enough, actors don't have to do a lot of researches for their characters, the script is enough, so how much did you involved yourself to portray a correct play about this man?
John Noble: A well written script is a great start. The actor is responsible for taking that as a start and then fleshing out the missing links. I have found that the writers have incorporated many ideas that I have pitched, and have taken on board many of the characteristics I have found for Walter. It is a dynamic on-going process.

Gilles Nuytens: How much freedom do you have with your character, in some shows, actors have a lot of freedom, in others not at all, how is it with Fringe? If yes, can you give us an example of something you added that wasn't in the original script?
John Noble: We are required to be very accurate with the final script. Most of the actor innovation comes in the improvisation and delivery. I am given a lot of freedom with this aspect of the performance.

John Noble interview - FringeGilles Nuytens: What do you enjoy the most about playing Dr. Bishop?
John Noble: The scope of the character. I love his mind and his eccentricity. He can do things, and say things most characters can't. On a more serious note I love the relationship with his son. Joshua Jackson and I take this aspect very seriously, and work very hard to make it resonate with our audience.

Gilles Nuytens: As many shows, Fringe reflects (in a fictional and scifi way) the problems of our society, especially with the bad aspects of science, how much are you concerned about the ethical problems described in the show? "Science is not bad, the problem is how people use it ..." do you think that's the message we must keep from the show?
John Noble: To say science is bad is very re-active. And to say power is dangerous is obvious. Science used for illegal and unethical purposes is a problem, but so is any power. I adore science. I adore man's ability to expore higher thought forms. These things inspire me in the same way as a brilliant musician or writer inspire me. Without that inspiration life can be rather dull and depressing.

Gilles Nuytens: In another interview, you mentioned that you wanted to have more action with Dr. Bishop, a fight or something. At that point, there was nothing, but now, did you convince them to give you something more action-like?
John Noble: I think that comment was tongue in cheek, although we will eventually see the dark and dangerous side of Walter. There have been hints of his sociopathic tendencies already. It has been discussed and agreed to in principle.

Gilles Nuytens: So far, how is the atmosphere on the sets, how do you see and appreciate the people you are working with?
John Noble: We are professional, hard working team. We love going to work and exploring whatever adventure the writers have delivered. There is a high level of mutual respect at all levels on Fringe. It is a wonderful experience.

Gilles Nuytens: A funny one: In episode 2 we see you milking a cow ... Tell us something about this cow. I'm sure there must be a lot of backstage stories about it ...
John Noble: The cow is always a highlight when she appears. It is a very cooky JJ Abrams thing to have in the show. She also has a habit of stealing the scenes, which is great fun.

John Noble interview - FringeGilles Nuytens: Was that clear from the start that Dr. Bishop would give the show that little touch of fun or was it more your own influence?
John Noble: It was the intention of the creators that Walter would be amusing. I hope that my interpretation has enhanced this expectation.

Gilles Nuytens: You've played all around the world, USA, Canada, Australia, even Fiji Islands ... what would be the major aspects/differences between for example playing in the Fiji's and USA, Australia and Europe (professionally, technically and about the people I mean, not about the climate or location), etc?
John Noble: I have been very fortunate to work in many countries. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and think, this is really happening to me, and I am being paid for it. I think that travel is the great educator. It removes pre-conceptions and predudices. We are one race inhabiting one small planet, and given a chance we can all appreciate and love each other. To be paid to realise that is a great gift.

Gilles Nuytens: What else would you like to say, add, comment about Fringe?
John Noble: 'Fringe' is quite unique. It defies definition in terms of genre. I think the show breaks new ground, yet it serves some very popular and well documented tastes. We have a very, very good show now, and are working tirelessly to make it a great show. The writers are ever mindful of what the viewers think, and are constantly inventing, researching and imagining. They are an amazing group of people. Keep watching. This show could go anywhere.

 

© 2008 - Interview by Gilles Nuytens for The Scifi World


 



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