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John Noble heralds the return of 'Fringe'

April 1, 2010 | 10:36 am

215_peter_0266 This is no April Fool's Day prank. “Fringe” returns Thursday night.

I received my copy of “Peter,” the first of eight all-new episodes, last week, and it is incredible. No fan of “Fringe,” casual or hard-core, is going to want to miss this. (The episode came with a “Fringe” coin and directions on how to perform the Bishop coin roll. “Fringe” has the best PR of any show for which I write Show Tracker posts. Take that, “Nurse Jackie.”)

If you want to remain completely unspoiled, come back after you’ve watched. I’m not going to reveal any surprises, but I know some viewers like to watch as blank slates.

They all gone? OK.

As you may remember, when we last saw our friends from the Fringe Division, Olivia gained the ability to see a glimmering light on items from the alternate universe, and Peter was glowing like the northern lights.

On Thursday night, Walter tells Olivia (and us) exactly how Alternate Peter became our Peter.

John Noble, the only actor in the world who could have brought Walter Bishop to such fascinating life, took some time to talk about playing a different version of Walter Bishop, a Walter Bishop 25 years younger.

“I had to go back to him right at the beginning to see where he came from.” Noble explained, “… that process was started before the pilot really, what was this man like before he deteriorated, so I was able to revisit that. Physically, of course, what I had to do was capture the energy, to capture the physicality of the man, the vocal physicality of the man, this was my task. I was aided enormously by my hair and makeup and special effects people here in terms of getting the overall, and indeed wardrobe helped a lot as well.”

The majority of the episode takes place in 1985, the time of President Reagan, New Coke and the first “Back to the Future.” It’s a time Noble remembers: “I can remember exactly what I was doing in ’85. I was still working in the theater. I had just directed a very successful play. … That was ’85 for me, but it seems like a lifetime ago. Our children were babies.”

But a younger version of Walter wasn’t the only acting challenge Noble had coming into this new episode, there was also Walternate, the nickname given to Walter Bishop’s copy in the other universe. “So you’ve got three quite distinct versions of Walter to look at here,” Noble explained, “I’m playing Walternate this morning, who is quite different from Walter in many ways. So it is fun. It’s a great challenge, but it’s great fun.”

Don’t think “Fringe” will just tease us with its spring premier. The episodes that follow, leading up to the second season’s finale sound just as intriguing. Noble teases that Peter will learn the details of his past soon. “Joshua Jackson plays this beautifully, actually, and we see him as this lost man really, who has lost this new family of his and is just in the wilderness really.”

And did I hear mention of a musical episode? “Lance Reddick is a superb singer and musician," Noble said. "We realize now that Anna Torv has got a beautiful voice, and that is just the starting point, you know. Jasika Nicole is also from a musical background. So, it was quite a reveal to us how much talent there was within the company. As I said, I was certainly not the A-lister in that group of people.”

As “Fringe” returns, the question obviously arises about what will happen when the show heads into its third season next year.

“I did ask the show runner; I said, 'Have you got a bible ready for next year?'  And he just pointed to his head and said, 'It is all in here, John, it is all in here.'"

Make sure to check out “Fringe” on Thursday night, and come here after to read my Show Tracker post and let me know what you thought.

-- Andrew Hanson


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Photo: Walter (John Noble) in 1985. Credit: Fox Television