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Fringe: Exclusive Q+A with John Noble aka Walter Bishop


As Fringe premieres on TV2 - don't forget to watch our exclusive footage and the first scorching episode again if you miss it on Wednesday on TV2 - we caught up with John Noble aka Walter Bishop about his role in the new JJ Abrams' drama!

1)Tell us a little about your character Walter Bishop.
Walter is an exceptional intellect. A scientist who has been involved in cutting edge work. He suffered a breakdown 20 years ago and was incarcerated in a mental institution. He was subjected to treatments which have left him a shell of his former self. He has suffered  memory loss, has paranoia, physical impediments and has lost whatever social skills he may have had.
For all that he has a good basic moral sense buried somewhere. His forced reconciliation with his son has caused him to have an awakening of sorts. He is a man on the path to redemption. He will face many unpleasant recovered memories on that journey.

2) He has a bit of trouble relating after being locked up for years -how hard was it to play a man who's scientifically brilliant but socially lacking ?
It is challenging to find the right balance for Walter. The writers give me some wonderful material to play with. My task is to portray as truthfully as I can each moment, each nuance, each emotion without judgement.

3) How is it working on a JJ Abrams show?
JJ is top dog in Hollywood at present. There is a lot of attention focussed on everything he does. That is a double edged sword. On one hand people expect constant surprises, constant new innovations. On the other however we  have no shortage of editorial and critical attention which is gold in the hurly burly of network television. He is a brilliant man, and a great team player. In that respect he reminds me of Peter Jackson.

4) With a JJ show there's always a lot of secrecy around plots - does that make it hard to play the character without knowing 100% where the journey's going?
This is not a problem for me. I am given enough to play the moments I have to play. Walter has memory loss anyway, so he is not at all sure of his own back story, and no-one ever really knows the future.

5) Has the success of the show surprised you?
Yes, in the sense that once you start the daily grind of doing a series, you are immune to a large degree to the rumbles.
No, in the sense that we have so many exceptional creative minds working on the show and a fine cast. The ingredients for success are there.
Warner Brothers and Fox have been incredibly supportive.

6) Do you feel the current uncertain times with recessions and worries over swine flu and health have helped people consider fringe science?
Maybe. It's an interesting theory. Personally I have been fascinated in fringe science for many years, and judging by the numerous books available on the subject, so have many other people. Also, science fiction has always excited the imagination of people.

7) If you could sum up the appeal of the show to a new audience, what would it be?
The production values are very high. This show looks like a feature film every week. The combination of FBI procedural which is evergreen, with science (fiction), and characters that audiences seem to care about.

8) Have you had much feedback from the scientific community - has there been any really out there stuff which you've been contacted about?
Certainly the science community has been watching. Some are thrilled by the validation of the possibilities, others askance at the unsubstantiated material. We try to be very mindful of 'scientific feasibility'.

9) What can we expect for your character from the next season?
Walter will continue to remember snippets of his past life. He will become more independent. He will go through shame and guilt about his past, both as a parent, and as a moral member of the human race.

10) What's been your favourite episode/scene and why?
Episode 8 was my personal favourite. Walter goes back to the mental institution to try to extract information from an inmate. Heart breaking stuff.

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