John Noble Shares FRINGE Secrets

john noble fringe

As critics and fans use up valuable bits and bytes debating the finer points of J.J. Abrams latest hit show FRINGE, one pattern has become abundantly clear. Everybody loves Walter.

Which is why this TV Addict was thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in a conference call with actor John Noble, the latest in a long line of Aussie imports who have taken American by storm. See if you can sense a pattern in our line of questions.

Do you know what “The Pattern” is?
John Noble: Do you know, we don’t know. I don’t know what “The Pattern” is. Walter doesn’t, and that kind of works okay for me. I don’t particularly want to know what’s going on in terms of the writers’ minds.

Walter is definitely one of the season’s most well received new characters. Can you talk a little bit about how you approach the part and how much fun it is to play?
It’s as much fun as it looks like. I mean Walter is an absolute hoot to play. It’s obviously got serious aspects to it, but I treat it as a hoot to play the thing. Preparation, well, that’s probably the hardest bit, getting the timing right and doing the preparation on the scientific work. But working on FRINGE is a great job. I mean it’s a great group of people to work with, and amazing scripts from the minds of J.J. Abrams and other people. They’re geniuses. Living inside their heads much be a very strange thing to do because they’re always coming up with something different. Overall, fantastic experience, and thank you for the comment about “Walter.”

Do you know when we’ll learn what “The Pattern” is?
These writers have in mind a plan that could last one, two, three years, or however long it lasts, and they will bring that all to a conclusion at the right time. We can’t reveal everything now because where do you go, so there’s a long way to go.

When it comes to J.J. Abrams and his shows, the story-lines are always incredibly clever, but at the same time, very complex. For the audience, at times, it can be a little challenging to follow. As a cast member, do you find it sort of challenging to follow all the sort of twists and turns?
Yes [laughs], absolutely. But I could also say that, as an audience member, I kind of enjoy reading things that make me concentrate or watching things that make me concentrate, and so, you know, that’s what Fringe does. And I watched an episode on Tuesday night, and I was in it, but there were things I missed, and I said, what was that? What did they say there? So I mean it’s fascinating to be watching something that does require concentration.

Do you ever tire of people asking what “The Pattern” is?
Well, yes. But it’s not offensively. It’s just, “Do you know anything? And I say, “I don’t know,” and I mean it, so I can’t be drawn really.

As much fun of as Walter is, he also has this menace behind him. A menace that we’ve seen glimpses of like when he drugged Astrid and when we recently discovered that he was doing experiments on Peter as a child. How do you balance that being this sort of cuddly guy when all of a sudden we find out, he’s kind of scary?
Yes. It’s the dark side to stuff, isn’t it? I guess it exists in all of us. But with “Walter,” because of who he is and how he is and how bright he is and how disturbed he is, it just sort of surfaces a bit more often and a bit more radically than it does in most of us. I don’t find it that hard to find. I mean taking each moment when I’m doing a scene, I take each second and look at what’s gone through at that point, and sometimes those reactions just come out, to be honest with you, out of frustration, the character’s frustration, or out his greater purpose, whatever, out of his madness. But it’s certainly interesting to play, and it shocks the people I’m playing with at times. You see these shocked reactions from the other actors, but that all makes some good fun too.

When are we going to learn more about the mythology with regards to The Pattern William Bell and Massive Dynamic?
There’s going to be a growth in that sort of in the mythology. It’s not going to be laid all out for everyone to find in one episode. And in fact, one of the things that they also do, these people, is that they keep the process pretty organic, and as things happen, as things happen in their mind, this is the writers I’m talking about, or an actor, one of the characters will invent something or a new character will evolve, and they keep it open to evolving the script as they go along. We’re constantly getting rewrites. Sometimes just before we go on set, we’ll get a rewrite because they’ll have a better idea on what line to say there. And so that’s, whilst that’s challenging, it’s also very, as I said, organic. I personally love working that way.

Can you reveal what’s in store in terms of great “Walter” moments in the next few episodes?
In terms of – I guess there are always two things. There are the sort of bleak and dark moments that you see sometimes, and there’s also the comedic, well what play as comedic moments. We’ve just really finished off the final episode that will be going on in December, and there are a lot of “Walter” moments in there just him being inappropriate really.

There are a couple of quite – the next episode, which goes on next week, we see “Walter” from a different angle, very vulnerable. He goes back into the asylum, and we see the very, very fearful man return for a while, although he does have some wonderful moments early in the episode. But when he goes back inside, he turns back into this incredibly fearful, stuttering fellow who we saw when we first met him.

It’s a very interesting journey that we see “Walter” go through. You know, he also solves these extraordinary things either because he had done them in the past or because he simply has the intellect to think now. We’re getting more episodes where “Walter” hasn’t done that experiment sometimes, but he has the mind to be able to see a way through it, so that’s the sort of thrust of things you will expect to see in the future.

Deepening of the relationship with the son, of course. There’ll be a lot more of this. As you go through, you know, this season and the next seasons after that, you’ll see the ensemble of actors interact a lot more than maybe we’ve seen at present. The relationships with the “Olivia” character will become more like relationships do when people who know each other for a while and start to kind of have an investment and care, and care for each other. We certainly will see that in the first episode coming back next year where we all bond together to support “Olivia,” and she for us. So that’s the sort of thing you can look forward to.

Any final thoughts on “The Pattern?”
I think it’s going to be an amazing ride, so thank you so much for your support.

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FOX

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  • What a fantastic interview! — I love John’s character, on screen and off! —what a neato person he must be to engage in conversation.

    I really am awestruck by all the Walter followers myself… I love the character’s quirks and ‘isms’ … They make the show fun and light at the appropriate moments!


    Looking forward to January 20th 2009 —- Merry FRINGEMAS everyone!

  • Tracer

    I like the way the writers show the duality of our own “government” agencies. How one hand has no idea what the other is up to. It is that way in reality !

    Life is messy, so the process of discovery both legal and illegal is also.

    Keep on thrilling us, make us think for a change!

  • raydar97

    Walter is a great character! He is my favorite part of the show.
    I look forward to “Fringe” every week.

  • Walter is incredibly briliant. I envy Astrid. Except when he druggs her, of course.

  • Tara

    I love Walter. He’s quirky, novel, charismatic, intriguing and it would be a hoot to bask in the brilliance of his mind. His darker side would only add depth to the challenge of knowing him. Does he need another go-fer in the lab?

    Well done, Mr. Noble. Well done, indeed!

  • Nice.There is definitely a pattern in your question like those clues from the movie.