Five Questions for ‘Fringe’ Creator JJ Abrams

JJ Abrams is at it again, after bringing us Felicity, Alias and Lost, he’s ready to launch another new series. Pegged as an X-Files style show bridging reality, conspiracy and the supernatural, Fringe kicks off with a flight landing at Boston’s Logan Airport with no signs of life onboard. Creepy!

The incident brings together Abrams’ cast of characters including FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Special Agent John Scott (Mark Valley), genius Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson). They soon find their investigation leading to a multi-billion dollar company called Massive Dynamic and its corporate exec Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) is just the beginning. tracked down the Abrams for a few quick questions about the show just in time for the Sept. 9 premiere.

5301321.jpg Are you cool with everyone comparing Fringe to X-Files?


When I did Felicity, it was Ally McBeal in college. When I did Lost, it was Gilligan’s Island and Survivor meets Twilight Zone. We’re doing this, it’s X-Files. I’m used to that sort of thing and I’m always so grateful that they’re referring to something that’s great. X-Files, to me, you know, was a seminal influence. And so as much as I love the Twilight Zone and Night Stalker and [David] Cronenberg films and [Michael] Crichton movies, all these things connect in some way and X-Files is right there at the top of the list. So I would be a fool to say, “Oh, there’s no influence, there’s no connection,” I mean, clearly, it’s an FBI agent and weird stuff. I do think the similarities sort of end there, but I could see the comparison.

HW: Why stick with television when you can make blockbusters like Cloverfield and Star Trek?


It’s a funny question to me because I love it…but the draw to do TV is simply the opportunity to do it. I just feel like for this moment we would be crazy not to, it is such an amazing medium…Even now as the episodes are being filmed, there’s this really weird thing when you’re lucky enough to get a pilot done and you’ve lived with that for a little while and then a lot of talk about getting to do the shows and then you start to see the characters again. It’s just a bizarre thing. It’s this organic ongoing thing and when you have actors as good as we have and you’ve got a story that I’m really excited that we’re telling over a long term and also episode to episode – to me it’s a thrill.

HW: With Star Trek still in production, how involved will you be in writing the show?


I’m going to be deeply involved in the show, in writing or doing rewrites if necessary…breaking stories and certainly in the story arcs of the show.

HW: Can you shed some light on Blair Brown’s character?


In the shows that we’ve been working on since the pilot, too, the question of sort of, you know, is she to be trusted? Is she good or bad? She’s sort of the kind of like guru character. She is sort of this amazing font of information and I think that the fun about who she is and what she is obviously will reveal itself as the show goes on, but what I love is the ambiguity of her character, that you think from the beginning this Massive Dynamic company sort of looks like, oh, it’s the big bad conspiracy company, but you start to get a different taste of that as the thing goes on.

HW: Will Fringe be as complicated as Lost, or can people pick up the show after its started?


This show is going to have a different sort of paradigm. Week to week, there will be stories. So you can tune in and just watch that, but there will over the course of seasons and then the series itself, bigger arcs of the stories. I think we are trying very diligently to do a show that doesn’t require the kind of insane, absolute dedication to a series that if you miss an episode you truly have no idea what’s going on, but hopefully you want to see every episode because they’ll be exciting and fun.

Joshua Jackson talks ‘Fringe’ and ‘Shutter’