John Noble says working the twin storyline this season on Fringe has been a “delicious” challenge.
“As an actor, I just love taking risks,” he says. “Anything they’ve thrown at me, I’ve just grabbed it.”
I chatted with the 62-year-old Australian on the phone yesterday in advance of tonight’s mid-season return of Fringe, which was has been shifted back to Friday nights after a rocky run against stiff competition on Thursdays.
Noble is glad to be back on Fridays, where the show started, and where, as he points out, a similar series dealing with paranormal activities–The X-Files–thrived for years. “I think our core fans will follow us back,” says Noble.
His character, like several others, has been split in two this season, showing two distinct sides to scientist Walter Bishop (or, as he is known in the parallel universe, “Walternate.”)
He compared the conceit to that found in the movie Sliding Doors, where one slight change, one different decision, could result in tremendous changes in people’s lives.
“It was such a bold thing to do to take an established show and basically create an offshoot within the third season,” he says. Besides Walter, Anna Torv’s character Olivia has been split in two with a dark-haired doppelganger running around in the parallel universe, trying to diffuse Walternate’s doomsday machine.
Everything is headed toward a resolution, Noble insists. “It’s absolutely fascinating to see how this is all being resolved by our writers.”
In tonight’s episode, “The Firefly,” Walter befriends Roscoe Joyce (guest star Christopher Lloyd), keyboardist for Walter’s favourite ’70s band, “Violet Sedan Chair.” The group has been referenced over the seasons as the one band that could bring Walter down from an occasional high.
Noble says his own favourite bands from the ’70s are The Cream and Queen. “I’ve been revisiting a lot of bands recently and realized how good they were,” he says, singling out the great Eric Clapton–then still a teenager–from Cream. “At the time they were just a part of my life, but I’d forgotten how good they were,” he says.
He says Vancouver has become a second home for the cast these past two seasons. (Season One was shot in New York.) As for being mobbed by sci-fi fans at conventions, he’s rather used to that. “Don’t forget,” he says, “I was in Lord of ther Rings.”
Fringe airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox and Citytv.
UPDATE: Friday’s U.S. overnight ratings are out and it’s good news for Fringe fans.

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