AS sci-fi series Fringe returns to Sky1 tonight for a fourth season, Australian actress Anna Torv has spoken about working on the show and how her character differs from The X Files’ Dana Scully.
Torv, 33, was born in Melbourne, Australia, and is now based in Vancouver. She rose to prominence in TV series The Secret Life Of Us, Mistresses and The Pacific and since 2008 has played FBI agent Olivia Dunham in Fringe.
Here she talks about meeting Fringe producer JJ Abrams on the set of his Star Trek movie and whether she would like to see the series make the transition to the big screen.
ANNA, IS IT TRUE YOU WERE CAMPING IN THE OUTBACK WHEN YOU GOT THE CALL TO AUDITION FOR THE PART OF FRINGE’S OLIVIA DUNHAM?
Anna Torv: Yes, but they love to put a spin on it, don’t they? I tested for a show a while ago and I think they’d seen a test that I’d done, so they wanted me to come in. I was away and my phone was out of signal range, so when I came back there was like a million messages. I went in and did a test with this very sweet casting agent who I’d tested with before. The next day I got the call saying, ‘Let’s go’. I was on a plane a day later to LA.
WHAT’S THE SECRET OF THE SHOW’S SUCCESS?
We have some really awesome fans, and without them we wouldn’t be on the air. I know that our showrunners are very keen and very active listeners to what our audiences are saying, and that, along with some great writers, and I have some fantastic co-stars, I think makes for a great show.
I HEAR YOU HAD A RATHER UNUSUAL FIRST MEETING WITH SERIES PRODUCER JJ ABRAMS
After arriving in LA I got taken to meet JJ, who was working on (2009 movie) Star Trek, so I got taken into the control room of the Starship Enterprise to say ‘Hello’.
WITH JJ AND SOME OF THE FRINGE TEAM WORKING ON THE NEXT STAR TREK FILM, WOULD YOU LIKE A PART IN THE SEQUEL?
Oh, I wouldn’t say no!
WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING ABOUT SHOOTING SECOND WORLD WAR EPIC THE PACIFIC?
Well, I made that before I did Fringe, and so at that point that was the biggest thing that I’d ever done, although it was so fun because I’d never been in such fantastic period gear.
YOU ALSO STARRED IN THE BBC’S MISTRESSES. WAS IT A CULTURE SHOCK GOING FROM THAT TO A SHOW WITH SUCH A BIG BUDGET?
Yeah it was, and things are done slightly differently too. Just little things like what function your first second and third AD (Assistant Director) has. It sort of switches about in different places. The UK is relatively similar to America. We shoot the show in Vancouver now. It’s fun and essentially it’s the same thing; you hit your mark and say your lines. I have to remind myself not to take it for granted, you know?
ONE OF YOUR FRINGE CO-STARS IS LORD OF THE RINGS VETERAN JOHN NOBLE. IS HE FUN TO WORK WITH?
I’ve got to tell you that’s been such a massively exciting thing, to be able to watch someone like John work every day. There’s something that happens as you get older where you become more comfortable in your skin and with what you’re doing. There’s just that ability to let it go and throw it out there, and he’s just so inventive and imaginative and just unashamed. There’s a palpable joy on set when he’s working, and I think that you see that on screen. We have some fantastic guest stars too. Andre Royo from The Wire; I was starstruck when he came on the show, and Leonard Nimoy! I don’t have it too bad.
HOW DOES OLIVIA DUNHAM DIFFER FROM THE X FILES’ FBI AGENT DANA SCULLY?
Dana Scully was a much more elegant FBI agent. She was absolutely a woman, whereas I think Olivia is a little more dogged. She’s much more pent-up and carried a little bit more of the world on her shoulders. They’re different characters because of the way they work.
IF FRINGE: THE MOVIE GOT A GREEN LIGHT, WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK ON THAT?
I don’t know to tell you the truth. I feel like it’s so intricate; it feels like an epic story now. I don’t think it would be a very good film.
WE’RE NOW STARTING SEASON FOUR. IS THERE A PLAN TO DO FIVE OR SIX YEARS AND THEN CALL IT A DAY AS WITH JJ ABRAMS’ EARLIER HITS, LOST AND ALIAS?
People have been quoting JJ for a while saying, ‘JJ feels four or five years is kind of enough’. I tend to agree with him. If you’re doing a straight up procedural series I think you can go on, because you’ve got so many stand-alone episodes. Whereas with our show it certainly feels like it’s picked up the pace as well. I don’t want to run it into the ground.
WHERE DO YOU SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME?
Vancouver. We’re there for 10 months of the year. It’s a beautiful city.
FINALLY, ARE THERE ANY DREAM PROJECTS YOU’D LIKE TO WORK ON?
I’m actually really happy where I am. Not that I don’t have dreams. I hope there’s life after Fringe, but I’m pretty content.