“Fringe” has consistently been one of the most inventive shows on television, but they took things to a whole new level by taking things to a whole new universe and bringing the parallel world subplot to the forefront. This meant star Anna Torv faced a few new challenges: most notably creating a cracked mirror image of Special Agent Olivia Dunham who would engage in a romantic relationship with Peter Bishop while the real Olivia became a brainwashed P.O.W. “over there.” Oh, and smiling.
But with great risk comes great reward and Anna has delivered two tremendous performances this season — conjuring up a new character while still showing us even more colors in her original creation.
Tonight all the events of season three come to a head in 2010’s penultimate episode, which promises to — once again — be a game-changer. In anticipation of the stellar hour, we rang up Anna Torv to find out how she approached this daunting challenge, why she believes Peter is in big trouble and what she hopes 2011 brings.
PopWrap: What was your first thought when you heard about the plan for season three?
Anna Torv: Olivia is so repressed and tense – I mean, my god, must she carry the weight of everybody’s problems on her shoulders [laughs]. So I always used to joke, “when’s her care-free doppelganger coming in?” So obviously I was excited from the get go. I mean, when do you get a chance on television to sit down and create a different silhouette?
PW: And we finally got to see you smile.
Anna: That was a wonderful day for me too because I have an easy smile … usually [laughs]
PW: Without asking you to get all “Inside the Actors Studio,” how’d you go about creating Faux-livia?
Anna: First we sat down and said, we need a distinctive difference — that’s where the hair color came in. Then wardrobe and I created a different silhouette, an airpilot look, that would have me move differently. We kind of worked from the outside in, but at her core, she’s a more sure footed person who doesn’t take things to heart as much as Olivia does. She has a totally different energy.
PW: What’s been the hardest part for you?
Anna: I kick myself a lot for forgetting nuances, I would have love the luxury of time to plot it out, but we do an episode every eight days, so there’s little prep time, you learn on the fly. I get stuck the most in the moments where you have to be truthful late at night, where I fall back on what’s natural – my instincts. Finding the truth of how she would take information on board … I’m still struggling with that.
PW: Whether it happens or not tonight, it’s safe to assume Olivia and Faux-livia will eventually return to their proper worlds. What are you most excited to see play out?
Anna: Coming back, I know the secrets are going to come out and Olivia is going to find out [about Peter dating Faux-livia]. There has to be a concession of sorts. And if I were in her situation, god forbid [laughs], the bit that would be the hardest to handle is, “how could you not see me? Am I just a physical shell? Am I only my hair and what I wear? How can you not see my spirit?” That’s the bit that would stick a knife in my heart. That Peter really didn’t see she wasn’t Olivia.
PW: Do you think Olivia will be a changed woman when she returns to her world?
Anna: I don’t know if a person ever really changes. I think people can learn how to handle things differently and learn to react in a different way, but essentially your worldview is somewhat formed. It wasn’t as though Olivia was over there doing something totally different – she was still fighting to save people who can’t fend for themselves. So that core of who and what she is in essence never quite left her.
PW: Will the show continue to do one episode over here, one episode over there or will the focus return to this world for the most part?
Anna: I don’t know for sure, but we’ve invested so much in the parallel universe — and there’s so many things we still don’t know about that world — that I think we’ll see all those people again. I am not sure where the season is going, but I would assume we’ll go back again. There’s too many loose ends. It feels like the show works in chapters and tonight’s episode is the end of a really huge chapter.
PW: Looking ahead, what would you like to see in the second half of the season?
Anna: It takes me some time, as it does the writers, to let the dust settle and think, “what now?” But there’s also a lot of bits and pieces kicking I’m curious about – especially the First People and The Observers, who I don’t think we’ve seen any of in the alternate universe. I agree that our show is character driven, but I believe the story is bigger than any single person so I’m always excited to see where the story of “Fringe” is going. There are so many balls in the air … I can’t wait to see which ones get thrown at me next.