When did you guys find out that there are parallel versions of yourselves, or did you know all along that you were playing another Peter?
Joshua Jackson: No. The reveal of the universe was something new to me midway through the first season. And I think it went through a couple of different permutations before it settled into the form it is right now, so there were discussions about what exactly that story was going to be. But I didn’t find out about the alternate universe, or that he was a sort of traveller from the other side, until about halfway through the first season.
Do you think the show has benefited from being more serialised?
John Noble: I think so. It’s what we know our audience has asked for. And they’ve been pretty vocal about it.
JN: They don’t want any more of those stand-alones; they want to find out more about how we live our lives in the continuation. So whilst we are obliged to still create what seem to be stand-alones, Josh made the point earlier that they are actually, still, underneath it – the characters and the mythology are driven through. We’ve done a lot of stand-alones, and really the audience say to us, “Yeah, they’re good, but we can watch them anywhere. Get back to what you do well.”
JJ: And truthfully, for the actors, it’s more interesting to do that. And frankly, if I wasn’t on this show, I would be an audience member of this show, so I want to get to the meat of the story. I want to be telling the stories that are so cool about the broader mythology, and we do this interesting thing here where even when it is a stand-alone episode, the Fringey-ness, whatever is happening that week, is always driving forward the characters, which is a very unusual thing to do on a television show, because generally you want to keep the characters static and let the story move, so that people can be comfortable with the characters they have. But these characters have changed radically… That episode, that ultimately became ‘Johari Window’, but what was originally called ‘Edina City Limits’, is a complete stand-alone episode. There is nothing from that thing that broadens the story, except at the heart of it, is a story about love and acceptance and family.… Which of course, for these two guys, is the entire theme of the show for them. So I think we’ve done that really well.
JN: Tolerance. Acceptance. I loved ‘Johari Window’. I thought it was one of my favourite stories.
Has that been enjoyable to play?
JJ: Yeah. I look at the finding out for Peter as the seven stages of grief, because in a way his family dies when he figures out what he is, so we’re at about stage three right now. Today. I’m in stage three. The truth is, the most interesting thing to play, over the course of these two years, beyond the ‘ain’t it cool’ factor of all the fringe stuff, has been this changing, growing, father-son relationship that has, in a really remarkable way, changed in a way that’s very uncommon, particularly in storytelling in TV. These men could not have started farther apart, Walter could not have been more broken and, frankly, Peter couldn’t have been more broken and closed at the beginning. And then they’re thrown together by circumstance, they very slowly – Peter I guess, very slowly starts to open up to his father, and finally his guards are broken down and he is brought into the fray by this man, and at the moment of finally allowing himself to be vulnerable and to accept a place in his life for the first time, it is completely shattered and destroyed. That’s really rich stuff.
JJ: If you stripped away all of the sci-fi, there would still be a real relationship between… and I don’t just mean between Peter and Walter, but for our purposes, there would be a real father-son dynamic, which I think is also honest and understandable beyond science fiction.
We were told yesterday by Bryan Burk (executive producer) that there is going to be more in the next season in the alternate universe. Does that mean we are going to meet the other Walter? I am assuming he’s somewhere there.
JN: Sure. Well, if you’ve been told that by Bryan, then that opens the doors. If you open the parallel universe, given that we only have one Peter – we know that – but there’s no reason to think that there’s not two of everyone else. So if you are going to let your imaginations run there, as to where we can go, and what challenges that presents to us as an acting company, and he’s the only common link, it’s really interesting. And we are doing so, in the next couple of weeks.
Interview: Sarah Lucy May