For the guy we now know to be playing The Other Peter, life on the set of Fringe remains an exciting mix of mythology, relationship-building, and human innards. As Joshua Jackson shared with reporters Wednesday via conference call, tonight’s premiere of season two will hit the ground running and serve up its trademark stew of splatter-clad strange.
“That’s the beauty of our show,” Jackson points out. “If we don’t have a new crazy thing, something’s gone horribly wrong. There’s the individual creepy, gooey stuff, but what we’ve done pretty well is make each one of the creepy gooey things adds up to a much bigger story.”
Speaking of bigger stories, did he foresee the shocking twist regarding his character’s origins? That jaw-dropping, grave-shaped cliffhanger which flummoxed many fans? “They thankfully gave me a heads up a couple of months before,” he admits. “So that I didn’t read it and think that I’d been fired.”
Many who require a logical explanation for events (yes, even within the Fringe universe) had been prone to questioning what Peter’s raison d’etre was beyond supplying a steady stream of wisecracking. Sure, Walter was right at home amidst the fifty different kinds of laboratory-spawned chaos. And most of season one focused on Agent Dunham’s rightful place at the crux/crosshairs of Fringe’s mythology, thanks to those slightly unethical, involuntary experiments she was subjected to as a child. But what was a perfectly nice estranged son/arms dealer doing in a place like this? Oh – he was kidnapped from an alternate reality? It makes so much more sense now! Well, sort of.
“We come to find out that this is a large part of the guilt that Walter carries around, that he baby-snatched Peter as a young boy,” Jackson says. “Eventually that has to come to a head. Peter is really invested now in becoming part of this team, but he’s going to find out that this horrible thing happened to him as a child. To me that’s the great thing hanging over Peter this season.”
Meanwhile, the inevitable questions about a Peter and Olivia romantic hook-up leave Jackson feeling more squeamish than all those stunt intestines strewn about the set. “I feel like this is more of a family dynamic than a romantic dynamic,” he says. “You have this crazy father in the center of it. That would be a very, very awkward love triangle, so I don’t think they’re going to go in that direction. I see Peter and Olivia as more brother and sister.”
While Jackson doesn’t see a Peter-Olivia love connection as being particularly viable, he’s more open to the existence of alternate universes. “It seems this [parallel universe] idea is part of the zeitgeist right now. Maybe it’s due to my west coast liberal upbringing, but, the idea of parallel universes doesn’t strike me as being too far out there. After the 60s and its psychedelia and the doors of perception and what have you. What defies my imagination is that there would be nothing out there that would defy my imagination. Maybe it’s because I’m a sci fi fan. It’s like the Carl Sagan thing, the candle in the dark – it only serves to illuminate how much we still don’t know.”
Inevitably, Jackson’s confession of sci fi fandom begged the question of which genre staples he might hope will turn up as a future resume line item. “There are plenty of books I read as a young man that I’d love to see turned into movies – some of which have already been. I would have loved to have been part of Lord of the Rings. And now they’re making the Hobbit, and I’m not in that either. I guess I have to wait for The Silmarillion.”
Naturally, talk of sci fi fanaticism leads to the inevitable query: what’s it like to work with Leonard Freakin’ Nimoy? Jackson wouldn’t know. “I’ve been shafted so far!” he admits. “In fact, I’m going to lodge a formal complaint through this conference call. While I got to meet him, which is cool, I have yet to be able to do a scene with him. And I think that’s uncool. We need to progress to the Peter and William Bell scene, tout de suite.”
And what’s life on set without a little drama? While most actors toe the party line and tell only tales of a warm, happy and familial cast and crew that frolic happily together amidst idyllic working conditions, Jackson bravely spilled the beans about a cast member who has been less of a pleasure to have on set.
“The cow’s a diva,” he admitted. “It’s a little known fact. She’s not very giving.”
Tune in Thursday night for Fringe’s debut at 9/8 c on Fox.