Mark Valley has been a reliable character for some time on television.  He’s played important characters on everything from ER and Boston Legal to Once and Again.  He was most recently seen on CBS’s summer drama Swingtown.  This fall season, Valley will plays Agent Scott on the highly-anticipated FOX drama Fringe.  Fringe, about a team who investigates the use of “fringe science,” comes from TV mastermind JJ Abrams, whose previous TV shows need no introduction – Felicity, Alias and Lost.  Fringe debuts with a two-hour premiere on Tuesday, September 8 at 8pm.  Mark Valley took some time to speak with us about Fringe earlier this week.  This is the first part of our interview.  Part 2 will be published after the pilot airs, seeing as it contains some spoilers.

Below you will find a written transcript of the interview along with the full mp3 audio.

Hey, this is Oscar Dahl from BuddyTV and I’m here with Mark Valley, who plays Agent Scott on the new FOX show Fringe.  Mark, how are you doing?

Hey, I’m doing well, doing well, thanks.

You guys had the big ol’ premiere in New York last night.  How’d that go?

Yeah we did, it was quite an event.  I mean, TV premieres are…I think it’s sort of a new thing.  They decided that movie premieres are kind of a good excuse to get a lot of people, actors dress up and get their pictures taken, so they decided to do television as well.  And, it was kind of exciting because the whole cast was there, the production team came out from New York.  There was all the people from FOX and Warner Bros., it was really great to see everybody, to see that the show has so much backing and support. 

The Fringe pilot, to be fair, is pretty much a full length movie in and of itself.

Yeah, it really is.  It’s two hours long and for the rest of the series FOX has this concept that they’re gonna start really committing to the written programming with fewer commercials to make it a little more movie-like, make it a little more like something you’d see on cable.

Fringe has now been screened a few times to the public, the pilot was leaked earlier on the internet – what have you heard in terms of the critical/fan reaction?

I’ve just heard positive things.  From what I’ve heard, it;s really kind of simple across the board – that they loved it, for a variety of different reasons.  One of the things that’s interesting about what I think is going to be the success of the show is the fact is that it’s going to be really hard to describe exactly why it’s good.  I mean, it’s a J.J. Abrams show, it has some of his signature positive aspects. There’s a really unique part of this show as well that people are going to be drawn to. 

Can you talk a little bit about how you ended up with the role of Agent Scott?  I read earlier that you were one of the first actors to sign on to the pilot. 

Yeah, I think I was.  For some reason, I don’t know how that worked.  The show doesn’t exactly revolve around me, that’s for sure.  I was cast pretty early on and I think it was just a matter of me being in Los Angeles at the time they were casting it.  Some of the producers were familiar with some of my work and they thought I’d be a good fit for that one particular role. 

When you first read that pilot script, what was your reaction?

I was compelled.  It was very engaging.  I just couldn’t put it down.  And I had read other scripts for television shows about science fiction things, you know, some of the usual suspects there which makes for, you know, kind of a mediocre read.  But this one, for some reason, the way it delved into the characters, the unique aspect of the cases they’re investigating, the way the characters interacted – I couldn’t put it down, I had to find out what was going on.  It was one of those things.  It was a real page turner.  I said “Well, if I like it, then other people are going like it.”  Also it was the only job that was offered to me at that particular time. I’m not going to go on about all these wonderful things that drew me to the pilot – the fact that I was unemployed was the most contributing factor…

It’s also probably hard to turn down J.J. Abrams, given the track record

Yeah, you know, it really is.  It’s a real treat for an actor to be able to work for J.J. and to work on that team.  I’ve been able to work with a variety of different writers and producers and he’s definitely someone who’s been on my list for a while.  And, I feel really fortunate to be able to work for him and with the great group of people he’s put together.

You’ve done a lot of TV over the years, and you’ve jumped form genre to genre.  Is there a specific type of show you prefer?  It’s kind of a big discrepancy to go from something like Swingtown or Boston Legal to Fringe, right?

Swingtown was a little more like Boston Legal.  It was a drama, but there was sort of some tongue in cheek humor to Swingtown.  I prefer to do a drama, but not necessarily too heavy.  I like to be able to find the humor on my own or have writers who kind of write a the situations that feel a little more realistic and then you can find the humor in the situation.  That’s kind of what I really like to do – to have a mix of both.  Sometimes I feel…sometimes it;s nice to ground yourself in a meaningful person to person scene.  That being said, this show kind of appealed to me because this is the first time I’ve played a character who’s a little bit mysterious.  You don’t really know where his motives come from, his loyalty is in question.  He’s definitely committed to whoever it is he’s working for.  He’s sort of a believer in whatever it is he believes in.  That’s what appealed to me.  So, that’s kind of cool.  A lot of the characters I’ve played are kind of laid out from the beginning and this one I can spend some time discovering as he goes along.

-Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl
(Image Courtesy of FOX)

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV