Reports of Leonard Nimoy’s retirement from acting may have been slightly exaggerated. For this Thursday, the man, the myth, the pointy-eared-one will finally reprise his role as the mysterious William Bell in the two-part FRINGE season finale airing May 13 and 20th on FOX. How do we know this you ask? Well, your very own TV Addict was given the once in a lifetime opportunity, along with a few other lucky reporters to spend a few minutes interviewing the actor on a recent visit to the set of FRINGE. Spoilerphobes, you’ve been warned.
Over the last two seasons, FRINGE has really seemed to be building towards a meeting and/or confrontation with William Bell?
Leonard Nimoy: That’s very perceptive! [Laughs]
Will the upcoming two part finale resolve the story?
There will be a major confrontation between the two characters. The last time I was here, I was performing brain surgery on Walter. But now we will see them spend some time together in a dramatic situation where we will get some more information about their relationship, the past, how they felt about each other, what they were doing, what they were trying to do and how it affected the universes… both universes. Both Walter and William have some stuff to work out, particularly with regards to their feelings about one another. In fact, there’s a moment I’ll tell you about where they start to get into it and Olivia says, “Hey, work that out some other time.” It’s a terrific moment.
Would the “other stuff” that William and Walter have to work out have anything to do with a past relationship? One they may-or-may-not have had with the same woman?
What an interesting question. WOW! Where did you get an idea like that?
Well, Nina Sharp does have a history of getting around!
[Laughs] That’s very interesting [Silence]
Is the finale all about William and Walter, or will we see key scenes between William and any of the other characters?
We will see other characters with William, but essentially the character stuff will be between William Bell and Walter.
The recent April 1st flashback episode not only introduced us to the Walternate, but shed some much needed light on Walter’s original motivation for wanting to bridge the gap between the two universes. Should fans expect to meet meet William Bell’s alternate universe counterpart in the finale and will we learn what Bell’s motivation for all this is?
We will get some information in [the season finale] episode about the William Bell on this side, the younger William Bell on this side. There will be some information given. We’ll find out what his story is all about in this episode. FRINGE is a very complicated show, which is one of the things that makes it so successful. It’s intriguing, constantly intriguing. There’s no question you can answer in any definitive way that doesn’t lead to another question. [As to William Bell's motivation] Yeah, I think you’ll get more of what he’s after.
Sounds ominous, can William Bell be trusted?
Good question. Again, my grasp of where William Bell is now is given to me by the dialogue on the pages in these two scripts. It’s the things that I say to people about myself as William Bell. It’s the things I tell them about myself. And always there seems to be this question about whether or not you believe what I’m telling people about myself. He says specifically to Olivia, “I know you have reason not to trust me.” I’ve said that to her before. “But you’re going to have to. So take your choice. Either way, away from me and go your own way, or listen to me and try to take something from what I’m saying that’s useful to you.” And I think that’s the fun of the character. We have to decide whether you want to trust him or not and see what evolves. These scripts give us a couple of twists and turns where we wonder if we’ve been had by William Bell, which is great.
Is there anything about William Bell that you can identify with, or what aspects of him are you most fond of?
I don’t think I’m an awful lot like William Bell. William is kind of what we refer to in our culture as a master of the universe. A guy who has accomplished extraordinary things. He’s kind of the Paul Allen of those guys. Scientific genius as well as an extraordinarily successful businessman. A rare combination. I don’t fit that mold. I’m a character actor, and I’m trying to find my way through this process. As an actor learning how to play this guy, we’ve developed little bits and pieces of him so far, and there will be more developed now. I can’t say that I actually relate to him. But I do understand, when I play the dialogue, I understand where he’s coming from. That’s a matter of, just kind of an intellectual understanding of what he’s dealing with.
What was it like getting to work with John Noble?
John Noble is a fearsome actor. What else you want to say? (Laughs.) Fearsome. He’s also a very tall guy.
With the show getting picked up for a third season does the finale leave things open for a return?
I have no idea about any future plans. I answer the phone, particularly when J.J. Abrams calls me. “OK, I have to answer the phone.” [Laughs.]
FRINGE airs Thursdays at 9PM on FOX (“A” Channel in Canada)