We thought we were the only girls who woke up exhausted on Saturday mornings, clawed our way to the couch, and watched Fringe’s Friday night episodes on DVR. But according to some brunch conversations and a hefty dose of “I hate Fauxlivia” messages in our Twitter feed, we realized there are lots of Fringe addicts out there.
Maybe it’s the geeky but fascinating plot, which includes a parallel universe and a rogue FBI division; maybe it’s the love story between Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson. Or maybe it’s just because, well, who doesn’t love a monster-laden thriller that also includes a cow? Let’s let Anna Torv fill us in on what she thinks…
You’re currently playing two characters – the FBI agent Olivia Dunham, and her parallel universe counterpart, “Fauxlivia.” One’s blonde, one’s redhead. What else do you have to do on set to change characters? Well, we’re sort of doing quite a bit of flipping back and forth… There are all these sort of technical tricks… all these repeatable head-type shots where you’re constantly having to sort of lock the camera in and quickly change into the other person and then come back. Then you’ve got to do the performance again, from the other side.
That sounds exhausting. I know! It’s just strange, but at least I feel quite engaged on-set, which is a good thing
You’re Australian, but you’ve got a great American accent. Have you had to use it before? We had voice classes every year in drama school, so we did all sorts of different accents… And I think that when you’re working with people with the same accent, you then tend to pick up on that a little bit easier.
What words give away that you’re not American? Oh, you know the animal that we would call a dee-ah?… Putting the R on it! That’s my dead giveaway.
How are Fringe’s two Olivias different? Besides the hair? I think that our Olivia has this enormous kind of desire to be the best at what she does; she wants to be the best agent she can be she wants to be the best sister she can be, she wants to be the best aunt, she just really wants to be the best. And I think the alternate Olivia is a little more kind of cocky, she just wants to win. She doesn’t care if she’s the best; she just wants to get there first. She just wants to win.
Did you have any creative input into the development of Olivia? It’s interesting, because that’s been a really kind of eye-opening personal journey for me. You usually get a script with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and you can kind of sit down and plot out your character’s arc. Whereas if you’re doing 22 episodes over a long period of time, you only get episode per episode… Our writers require us to be always “on book,” so there’s no improvisation, we always say what we’ve been given, but I would play exactly what was on the page, you know, like a good girl. And then I started to realize this is like a call and response, and you can actually go against what’s been written and start to shape your character a little bit more. The more I watched John Noble or Joshua [Jackson], who really started to carve and push their character in a direction they wanted them to go, that’s when I sort of realized you can do that without changing the dialogue, and I’ve slowly learned that lesson. I think that I was very much empty of influence, and thinking, you know, “the story will take care of itself,” which it does ultimately, but you can put a little bit more [of yourself into it] than I thought.
Like when? When I realized that I was going to have this opportunity to play this other character [Fauxlivia], I was very adamant that I was going to make her a whole lot lighter, and a whole lot more fun. We sat down with the costume designer, and asked, “How can we make them a lot tougher, and can we give them like a fighter pilot kind of feel?” Or, “Let’s give her like, long red hair, and let’s just make her a little bit more funky.”
Is Alternate Olivia more fun to play?
She doesn’t take life so seriously, and you spend, you know, 14 hours a day doing scenes playing these characters, so obviously the days when I’m doing Olivia, who’s very earnest and kind of serious, and she’s just weightier and you finish the day and you’re much more exhausted, and the days that I’m playing the alternate Olivia, and she’s a little bit more bouncy she’s a little bit quicker to smile, she’s just easier. So obviously you’re attitude is just a little bit better.
Did you do anything to prepare for your role, like research on the FBI? All of us who were playing FBI agents did get to sit down and talk to an FBI agent, and have a kind of conference call about the specifics of what the FBI was, and what they did as opposed to what National Security does. Then we had, like, tiny amounts of gun training, like how to hold a gun, but it sort of changes anyway, because it’s TV, and some things just look better even though they’re not necessarily right. And also the stuff that we deal with on our show, you know the cases that we deal with are so far fetched that I’m sort of like, “I don’t think people are going to be really worried about the protocol!”… I don’t think Fringe is necessarily the vehicle to kind of really get into the mind of a real FBI agent
Are the fight scenes fun? Yes! I love all the sort of action stuff. I didn’t know I was going to get to do so much and that’s been a blast. But not the guns, though. The boys love the guns.