Fringe is one of Fox’s most creative and exciting shows. Airing at 9PM on Thursday nights, it also occupies one of the most competitive time slots of the week. The popular shows 3rd season debuts on September 23rd. Whedonage talked with one of the breakout stars of the series, Jasika Nicole, who plays Walter’s FBI liaison, Astrid Farnsworth.
One of the sweetest and most enjoyable people at Comic Con. Jasika Nicole gave Whedonage some incredible insights into Walter’s long-suffering and patient FBI liaison, Astrid. The first question Jasika fielded was about her character’s slow development through the first two season.
“She had a really slow build,” Jasika said, “and there was a point in time where I thought maybe they’re building it slow because they don’t know if they really wanted to keep her. Every script I get I still take the PDF file and search for Astrid and I make sure I didn’t die. Then I start from page one and I read the entire script, because you never know; it’s television, nobody has any loyalties to me. But I was patient, because look who I get to work with! I get to work with John Noble, who is as wonderful off camera as he is on camera. And so, I thought, this is great. No matter what it is I’m going, no matter if they never give me any background; this is kind of like a master class and its really great to be working with people you really respect.
“And so towards season two, they started showing more (of Astrid), like in the episode with Walter in China Town, which was really amazing and so much fun to play. And now there’s two of her, so I have to do more just by the sheer idea of them doing cool episodes in one universe and in another universe, which is the format we’re doing right now.” But she points out that people seem to want to know more about Astrid, and that’s very gratifying.
Jasika has been enjoying exploring the difference between Astrid and Alternate Astrid, even though the audience hasn’t seen too much of the Alternate version. “I’m learning more about her; she’s a tricky one, she’s really cool. She’s so guarded that its a little bit easy to play her because I don’t have to relate to anybody. Its kind of like performing monologues, which is an interesting thing to do on a television show. So we’re going to see more of Alternate Astrid and her little Beret.”
When asked what she liked most about playing Alternate Astrid, Nicole said, “Well, you probably haven’t seen it in the finale, cause she only has the one scene, but Alternate Astrid doesn’t make eye contact with anyone. She’s speaks toward them and she’ll look at them, but not when she’s speaking. That’s really funny to play because people get uncomfortable when I’m doing that in a scene. And she doesn’t really respond to their facial expressions or what their doing because she’s not really interested in that; she’s only interested in relaying the information that she has for them. And that’s really fun because it messes with people a little bit.”
Jasika has drawn a lot of Alternate Astrid’s mannerisms from her sister, who has an autism disorder which is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior. Her sister’s behavior of not looking directly at someone when speaking to them actually helped her family understand her autism. Jasika doesn’t incorporate everything from her sister, but does draw on those experiences to help develop this somewhat alienated character. According to Jasika, her sister does watch the show and gets excited to see her on screen.
So, with Jasika portraying two Astrid’s now, does she have a hard time differentiating between them? Not so much because the characters are so different. “It’s like playing a different character on a different show because the alternate universe is so different too. Her Broyles (Lance Reddick) is so different and the Walter there is different, and there’s a Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) and she didn’t even have a Charlie for a long time. It’s kind of like regional theater show for summer stock where you’re doing several shows at the same time, and your rehearsing one show during the day and performing another one at night.” So Jasika merely dons her Beret and serviceable clothes, leaves off the makeup and steps into Alternate Astrides combat boots and she’s ready to go.
So what can fans look forward to in S3? Right from the start the writers will “start to enhance the relationship between Astrid and Walter because of the rift in Walter’s support structure, between him and Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv). So Walter and Astrid are communicating more now. Walter’s more vulnerable than he’s even been before and that’s nice to see too, because he does it really well.”
As to whether fans can expect to see an Astrid-centric episode in season 3, Jasika said she heard there might be one, but she’s still reading the scripts to make sure her character isn’t going anywhere!
Fringe Season 3 premiers on Thursday September 23rd @ 9 PM on Fox.