Unless you’ve been living under a rock this summer, you all know by now that Fringe, J.J. Abrams’ new brainchild, will be premiering in exactly one week. This new science fiction drama stars Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and John Noble, an unlikely trio who band together to investigate strange and often frightening events occurring on the fringes of traditional science. And as talented and as interesting as these actors are, I really have to give props to J.J. Abrams, who collaborated with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci to come up with the whole thing.
I got the chance to catch up with J.J. last week in New York at the Fringe red carpet premiere. First, let me tell you about the red carpet. It was totally wild. I mean, for one thing, the “red” carpet was actually a nice, tasteful midnight blue. A FOX/Fringe backdrop was set up against a barbed wire-topped chain-link fence, and the various news outlets set up their crews along the carpet. The entire cast and creators were present and made their way along the assembly line of journalists, giving interview after interview. I was relegated along with the other online press at the end of the line, so I had to wait a long time before talking to Abrams.
I can’t say enough about how gracious J.J. was. It must have been very difficult for him to keep answering the same questions over and over again, but you couldn’t tell by talking to him. He was just as fresh and engaging and interested by the time he got to me as I expect he was in his first interview of the evening. I tag-teamed my interview with Jacki Garfinkel of iVillage.com and Daniel Manu of Television Without Pity, who kindly provided me with a recording of the interview after my own recorder died. You’ll find the transcript of our chat below.
iVillage: Do you have a strategy behind the fact that you do re-use actors through a lot of your shows?
My strategy is: hire good actors. And when we do that, please come back. I’m just lucky that I get to work with the people I get to work with.
iVillage: No Greg Grunberg in this one. How come?
A) He is one of our Heroes. B) He is far too famous. He’d be a huge distraction. And C) We could never afford him. But I miss him every day that I don’t see him.
iVillage: And is it flattering too, at all, that I still refer to him as Sean?
God bless you. That’s so fantastic.
TWoP: Speaking of that, J.J., all these shows seem to be doing reunions either on stage or in a show like 90210. Will there ever be a Felicity re-gathering of that cast of characters?
I don’t think so, but I must say how much I miss working on that show. It was such a wonderful group and a really fun time, and the cast was just awesome. And having never done it before, it was a whole new experience. It was surreal, it was hard, but it was also a very special group, so I miss them a lot.
BuddyTV: I wanted to ask you, what’s your obsession with mysterious boxes? You always have a mysterious box. Do you always know what’s going to be in them when you write?
No. But the funny thing about the box motif is, it’s just human nature, I think. You want to know, what is it? What do you see inside of that thing? I think in certain situations, it can be a really fun story point. Even in one of the early episodes of Fringe, there’s a teaser at the end of one of the episodes that is kind of a magic box-y sort of thing where you’re like, “What the hell?” I just love that stuff, so that’s my own personal interest.
BuddyTV: So, I was talking to Jasika [Nicole] earlier who has a background in musical theater, and we all want a Fringe musical episode. Is that going to happen?
What would be better than that? Oh my God, I gotta start getting on that. I love that idea. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to tread on Joss Whedon’s territory, though, so I’ll have to figure it out, but man, that would be fantastic.
TWoP: Do you read what the web folks say about your show? Are you going to read what the fans are saying about Fringe after every episode?
Yeah, I’m beholden to the audience, and the Internet is a great way to get a sense of what people hate and what they love and what they want more of or less of. It doesn’t mean you follow it all the time, but if something resonates, you can’t deny it. It’s not a bad tool to have in your toolbox.
TWoP: You’ve become a science fiction icon to fans. Is that something you ever expected to happen? Is that where your passion is, that genre?
No, of course not. The truth is, to be lucky enough to get to work on shows at all, let alone, shows that you really care about or interest you. It’s a thrill and an honor. Doing Star Trek, that really is science fiction. On Lost, you can kind of argue it was a science fiction show, but we weren’t open about that at the beginning. And then Alias had a sci-fi bent from the beginning. Star Trek is Star Trek, you know what I mean? I don’t regard the genre as much as I like stories that are often just a little bit off-center or weirder. That usually means some version of science fiction.
iVillage: You’ve really changed the way people watch TV.
That’s not true.
iVillage: No, it is. Let me tell you. Watching Fringe, when it came to the commercials and you have those images on the screen, I felt like I had to pause my TV and I had to sit there and analyze it. Now, is there something in those images?
I would be lying to you if I said there’s not something. What it is is one of those things that’ll evolve over time, but there’s definitely some weird thing with that, for sure.
-Debbie Chang, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of WireImage.com)