After just three days of shooting the final season of “Fringe” in Vancouver, stars Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv returned to Los Angeles on Monday to join their fellow cast member Lance Reddick and showrunner J.H. Wyman for one last panel at the Television Critics Association press tour.
For many actors and writers, the television critics are a formidable audience, but for the “Fringe” family, critics have always been supportive of the show, even when ratings didn’t reflect the quality of the material. Though Wyman and his cast remain very closed-mouthed about spoilers for the upcoming season, the panel afforded them an opportunity to reflect back on their four years together, and look forward to wrapping up the series in the manner in which it deserves.
It’s not common for a show to receive early word that a season will be its last — particularly when that show has been perpetually on the bubble the way “Fringe” has. In his television career, Jackson has been able to say goodbye to two series with a surprising degree of closure.
“In an odd way, I’ve been given a really rare gift my two times going on television, because we knew going into the final season of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ that it was going to be the final season, and we know going into the final season of this, and I have plenty of actor friends and have been a fan of many shows that sort of got cut short before their time, and for us collectively to have the opportunity to go into the final season knowing that it’s our last opportunity to tell our story, but an opportunity to tell it in a way that we can be proud of as we walk away from it, it’s not bittersweet for me, to tell you the God’s honest, because all shows end,” he says. “I would rather have the ability to end well rather than just get to the end of the season and have that be that. I’m really looking forward to the process of putting this to bed together knowing that it’s going to be the end so we can actually enjoy that ride off into the sunset.”
“Our focus at the moment, only being three days into shooting the first episode of our last season is very well much on the journey,” adds Torv, noting that the fact that she’s aware of her character’s full arc for the season has helped her to enjoy the experience for what it is. “We sort of have a little bit more of a clue as to what’s going to be going on this year more than ever before. What that’s done is it’s made me kind of stop thinking of possibilities and focusing on what we’ve got.”
Looking back on the seasons, one of the most memorable twists was when the mind of William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) entered Olivia’s body. In channeling Nimoy we saw some of Torv’s most surprisingly awesome work — but, understandably, it was an odd series of episodes for her. “I still don’t want to talk about the Leonard Nimoy if that’s okay,” she joked. Wyman says that Torv’s reaction to playing Bell was a shining example of her dedication to the series.
“We send the script in, and we’re expecting fully for Anna to call back and go, ‘Have you lost your minds? You want me to play William Bell? How am I going to do that? How does one go about doing that?’ Not a peep,” Wyman laughs. “So everything that you saw was completely her and completely just embracing it and not even asking for any sort of insight.”
Torv tells us that she did ask for some help from a friendly face. “I cried at the end of the script. I cried and I go on the phone to John [Noble],” she reveals. “I said, ‘Can you help me?’ so somebody could kind of help me before we wrapped up on set the first day.”
The cast has plenty of fun stories like that to look back on as they embark on Season 5. Though they all agree that it’s a bittersweet experience, Jackson says he’s not mourning the show quite yet. “We’re only three days into the final season. For me, I’m just getting my sea legs back with the hours. At least in my experience, that Comic-Con experience that we all had last week and to… just bear witness to the passion and dedication that the fans of the show bring every single time we’re there, it’s just such a unique experience that I’ve had certainly in the show, and unlike anything else I’ve ever done before.”
“Fringe” returns (for the final time!) to FOX on Friday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. EST.