Fringe's Jackson Spills All
When we last saw Joshua Jackson on regular series television, he was resigned to staying in Capeside forever, even though Joey decided to choose him over Dawson.
That was more than five years ago, in the finale to the sixth season of Jackson's breakthrough series, Dawson's Creek.
But hold on to your rowboat: Pacey's back.
"I think he's finally going to leave the Creek after this season," said J.J. Abrams. "Really, all I love to do is make Pacey jokes."
Jackson is a regular on Abrams' upcoming Fox SF series Fringe, and he tells SCI FI Wire that it took Abrams to lure him back to the grind of an hourlong drama.
"It was something I have been hesitant about for the last five years, since Dawson's Creek ended," Jackson said in an exclusive interview on the show's set in New York on Aug. 26. "And, you know, the time commitment and the being-in-one-place of it all is a massive life shift, and I had a really great five years of not being on TV. But I don't know, the stars sort of aligned for this, and J.J.'s a great guy."
Jackson added: "Beyond the lifestyle choices of working on a television show, the thing that had kept me from doing TV was knowing how hard it is to tell good shows, good stories, over a long period of time. And he ... and his group--he works with the same people over and over again--have a track record of being able to do that. And that was the thing that sort of tipped it to the other side for me."
Jackson spoke during a break in shooting on Fringe, in which he plays Peter Bishop, the smart but damaged son of brilliant but eccentric scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble). Peter finds himself reunited with his estranged father at the urging of FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) as they investigate strange cases on the "fringe of science": cases that hint at a nefarious conspiracy underlying strange phenomena across the globe.
Below is an excerpt of SCI FI Wire's interview in which he discusses his character--and why he made a trip to the emergency room.
Tell me about your character, Peter.
Jackson: Yeah, well, ... Peter is just sort of discovering he's part of this world right now. Because when he's initially brought in, in the pilot, it's completely against his will, and he's only brought in because Olivia needs him to serve a function and get access to my father. But then, like anybody who's got a bit of curiosity, he sees this wild world and the access that he has through being a part of this world, and it sort of draws him in.
The character sort of functions in a couple of different ways, in addition to the father-son dynamic. On the one hand, you're sort of the voice of skepticism, on the other hand you're sort of interpreting what Walter's saying. And then you're like the Greek chorus that gets to make jokes.
Jackson: A little bit, yeah. ... I think the Greek chorus, the peanut gallery and the skeptic part come together. Because the person who stands one step removed is usually the one who is most capable of pooh-poohing. But just as an archetype, every show like this--every show, period--needs to have somebody who sort of stands at a remove and says, "Doesn't anybody else think this is ridiculous?" And Olivia is a sort of very straight ahead, trying to fix things. She's just a very hard-nosed, go, go, go type of girl. So that's great. I get that character who gets to sort of release the tension every once in a while.
Co-creator Roberto Orci said that, for him, the show is about the family you choose.
Jackson: The family you choose, and then-- ... I don't believe in fate--but people whose paths you're fated to cross. ... There's obviously [a] broken dynamic between me and my father. But then you throw this Olivia character into the mix here, and we become this sort of dysfunctional family unit by necessity. But you throw people in high-pressure situations like this, and they just sort of naturally come together and bond. ... If you take it off the television and put it in real life, that's how you get to know people, seeing them in action.
Tell me about some of the crazier stuff you've had to do so far.
Jackson: This is the worst that I've been subjected to. [He points to his makeup, which simulates reddish bruises on his face and ligature marks at his wrists.] ... I guess I can tell you that I was tortured, but I can't tell you why or by who. But, yeah, being tortured is bad. This is a bad day. It's not good for anybody.
You have to be in the basement chained up with your shirt off?
Jackson: Pretty close. And then horrible things are done to me. Yeah, not pleasant, it wasn't pleasant. Actually, yeah, it was not pleasant.
How was it performing that?
Jackson: I actually, and I'm not kidding, and I can't tell you exactly why, but I ended up in the emergency room. Something went wrong with one of the props, and I ended up sort of bleeding quite a bit. So it was intense, it was very real.
Will they use that shot in the show?
Jackson: They better. If I bleed in a shot, they had better. I don't even care if it's a terrible take. I don't care if my performance is awful. if I'm bleeding I want it on screen [laughs].
Can you talk about working with Anna and John?
Jackson: Yeah, she is terrific. J.J. has this, I don't know, like, uncanny knack for casting women. It's crazy. And ... they're two Aussies, but they're both sort of dedicated, lovely people, which is why I say the drama all stays on camera. There is so far--and I don't see why it would change--this feeling of "Well, we're all here, and we're in it, and we're doing it together, and we take our jobs just seriously enough that everybody shows up ready to work, but not so seriously that it's, you know, the end of the world if something goes wrong."
Have you gotten to share a scene with the cow?
Jackson: Nobody shares a scene with the cow. Jean is the star of every scene that she is in. Yeah, the cow's name is Jean, yeah. That's my life, circa 2008.
John told me he actually gets to milk the cow.
Jackson: He did milk the cow. I enjoyed the fruits of his labors. I did not actually milk the cow myself.
Anything else about Fringe?
Jackson: Fringe, it's the hardest show on TV to talk about.
Fringe premieres Sept. 9 and will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.