Viewers of Fox’s Fringe (Fridays at 9/8c) were left to utterly geek out at the close of last week’s episode, when William Bell’s “soul magnets” theory proved legit, and the late great scientist inhabited Olivia’s body.
Make no mistake, Anna Torv herself was agog when she first learned of the twist – one that forced into her repertoire a third Fringe characterization. “This is not one I had been asking for!” the actress admits with a laugh. “I was in shock for the first day, and then I think I hyperventilated, and then I called John Noble to say, ‘Can you please help me?’”
Torv’s reasons for turning to Walter’s portrayer were twofold. “When you are about to do something you’re kind of freaked out about, you want to be able to look up and know there’s a safe place to go to – and it’s there in John’s eyes,” she explains. And because Noble was in most of Leonard Nimoy’s scenes as “Belly,” Torv says, “I wanted to know what that relationship was like.”
Because she is Australian and already affecting an American accent for her portrayal of Olivia/”Bolivia,” Torv studied tapes of Nimoy’s Fringe work as well as consulted with the show’s dialect coach. Ultimately, though, she had to just jump in with both feet. “I’m no good at doing voices, mimicking people, so once I realized, ‘S—t, I can’t do this,’ you just take a deep breath and go for it.”
Bell’s most unexpected and equally unorthodox “return” promises to have a significant impact on the “machine” storyline that has Peter fretting over his fate as well as that of this universe. As Torv notes, the late genius “has a lot of information that we don’t have, so he’s an awesome resource for the team. And for Walter to have someone to work with is another [advantage].” Or could it be a liability…?
And as one might imagine, Olivia’s “possession” puts a pin in her nascent romance with Peter. “Well, yeah,” Torv confirms with a laugh. “I don’t think Peter is going to want to go to bed with William Bell!”
In other words, it’s business as usual for that oft-interrupted relationship. “Every time they sort of get it together,” Torv says, “something gets in the way.”
As if Torv taking on Spock wasn’t enough for this week’s Fringe, viewers will also finally meet this universe’s iteration of Lincoln Lee (played by Seth Gabel), who “over there” is one of Bolivia’s partners in crimefighting.
“See, that’s what I’m so excited about. You just don’t get to do that on other shows,” Torv says of Gabel’s own turn at double duty. “Seth on this side I think is just awesome. The Lincoln Lee of our world is a very cool character.”
Cool characters are obviously something the Fringe writers are never in short supply of – even if several of them seem to be played by a certain Aussie beauty. But Torv is thrilled, as an actress, to have such a wild sandbox to play in.
“It’s been a really fun season, particularly with the Bell stuff,” she says. “To work from the outside in, when I’m usually much more focused on what I’m thinking, has been great. I’ve never had the chance to play like I have this year before. I’m so grateful to the guys to keep giving me stuff to do!”
And if they have something even wilder waiting in the wings for (cross your fingers) Season 4? “I’ve made a decision,” Torv tells us. “I’m just going to go with it!”