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Fringe‘s Jasika Nicole: The New Adventures Of Old Astrid

As the television audience gathers its collective breath in anticipation of the final few hours of Lost, J.J. Abrams’ other hit series is about to burst at the seams.

With just one hour left in the second season of Fringe, fans already have been introduced to an alternate universe, an alternate Peter (Joshua Jackson) and an alternate Walter (John Noble).

Not wanting to be left out, Jasika Nicole tells Spinoff Online that an alternate Astrid also will be revealed in the two-part season finale, and that the closing scenes will shift the direction of Fringe so dramatically that Season 3 might as well be a different show.

Spinoff Online: First off, congratulations on getting picked up for a third season. It probably wasn’t a huge surprise.

Jasika Nicole: We were shooting when we found out that we got out third season, so we were actually all on set when we got the confirmation. J.J. [Abrams] sent us an email, which was really wonderful. I think it was our director at the time who read it to us, so we all cheered and hooted and hollered and gave each other hugs and stuff, and then we finished our day.

Were you taping the season finale, or have you known you’d be back for Season 3 for some time?

I think we were taping one of the last two or three episodes, so we actually found out quite a while ago.

Once that news came down, do you think that allowed the writers, the producers and even the actors an opportunity to really open this thing up and make the end of Season 2 as big as possible?

We had already read our season finale script, so we all knew what was coming. I don’t know what they would have done if weren’t coming back for Season 3 because everything was already written and the production had already started their pre-production stuff, so it probably would have just ended right there. I don’t think they would have tried to close the show out quickly because there really isn’t a way to do it neat and tidily at this point because the season finale is so big, it’s almost an opening to an entirely new show.

There is so much in it and it’s really exciting and there are a lot of questions answered but of course, there is this big thing at the end of it that makes you want to come back and see what’s going to happen in Season 3.

So we were all super-excited. We all like our show so much and we like what we’re doing, so of course, we wanted to see what happens next but at the same time, we’re really dedicated to the story we’ve already started so whether or not the audience appreciates it and wants to see it or whether or not the network wanted to sign us for another season, we’re super happy and committed to what we’ve already established.

It’s not like you came in under the radar two seasons ago. It was a big-budget sci-fi action TV series helmed by J.J. Abrams, so people were buzzing about it long before the first episode aired, but the numbers have grown and you have a core audience that simply worships Fringe. What has the fan reaction been overall this season, and has it became more fevered after the third season was confirmed?

To be honest, the first season, no one knew what we were doing and so it was just a community of crew members and actors and producers that were kind of creating this thing together and then for the second season, we were in Vancouver, so we’re so far away from everybody who watches the show – I don’t think Canada is as super into Fringe as the States is – so when we’re there, it’s kind of like the same thing. We just go to work every day and just keep doing what we’re doing and we don’t really realize how big it is until we come back to do Comic-Con or we start doing interviews to promote the season finale or the next season’s beginning or something like that, it’s not until we’re with other people when we realize how important the show is to other people and how much people love it.

So there is definitely a little bit of a disconnect because we are so far away from everything and even with the writers – the writers are in L.A., we’re all in Vancouver, so we don’t get to see them all of the time. We don’t get their feedback and they don’t get ours, so we’re just going to work every day and happy to be working with each other. And then it’s when the show starts to air again when we realize how big the show is and how many people are watching. And then when we started our hiatus, I came back to New York for it and now so many people come up to me on the street and no one came up to me during Season 1. It was very rare when anybody was watching the show and recognizing me and now they come up to me and tell me about their ideas of where the show is going to go and they ask me about John Noble, of course, they are just so excited about it and it kind of reinvigorates us because we’ve got really long days that we work. We’re working 15 to 16 hour days every day, so it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in just being tired, doing the same thing every day. So coming back to the States has been really exciting for us to see how big it is for everyone.

What’s ahead for Astrid in the season finale and, more importantly, in Season 3? I know you can’t give too much away but we know there is going to be an alternate Astrid from the other universe.

It’s funny because so many people want to see more Astrid. They want to see her out of the lab and where she comes from, they want to know more about her background and the funny thing is you do get to know more about Astrid but it’s a different Astrid. So there are still a lot of questions that are unanswered about the Astrid people are familiar with in this world.

But the next several episodes that we shoot for Season 3, I’m told, are going to be taking place in this alternate universe, which you’re introduced to, finally, in the season finale. And because this other Astrid is so vastly different than the Astrid you have seen introduced up until now. She’s a completely different character.

I’ve only shot a little bit of this other Astrid stuff because we only get to see her briefly in the season finale, but it’s enough to know that she is very, very different. So I’m super excited to learn more about her, and it’s going to be really funny if people connect to the alternate Astrid more so to the Astrid that we’ve already had [laughs]. And that’s very likely to happen because I think she’s going to be a key player into what ends up happening, of course I can’t give too much away, but there’s this big thing that happens at the very end of the season finale that’s a little bit mind-blowing and you realize how integral the people in the alternate universe are going to be to this universe to right the wrongs that have been done.

That will be funny if people start coming up to you and saying, “I liked old Astrid but I really like new Astrid.”

[Laughs] I was joking with someone and they asked me if because I was playing two characters, do I get two paychecks? And the answer is, “No.” But it’s so neat to be in a sci-fi drama where I’ve been able to sing, I’ve been able to hang out with a cow, I’ve been able to play a completely different character at this point, so many different things have happened so far on this show that I never would have imagined, which is really, really exciting. I like having gone into this with a kind of open mind and a blank slate as to what to expect and the writers keep giving us more and more stuff to do that is completely unexpected, so it’s been pretty fantastic.

Is Jasika closer to old Astrid or new Astrid?

Definitely this Astrid. But it’s interesting. I have a connection to the other Astrid, too, but I can’t tell you what that is without totally giving it away, but I’m very familiar with the other Astrid in the other universe in a way, but I would say, I am most like the Astrid that has been introduced to audiences in the past two seasons.

You mentioned that everyone asks you about John Noble, so I will, too. You have such wonderful chemistry on-screen. Can you please speak about your relationship with him both on- and off-screen?

I think it’s one of those instances that the relationship that occurred off-screen and outside of the script motivated the writers to take a little bit from that. And John and I connected pretty immediately at the start of the show. He’s such a warm person and he has this really great sense of humor. And he’s very much the father figure on the show. He likes to impart his wisdom but he doesn’t do it in a condescending way at all. He’s very open to communicating and sharing and if you’re interested in hearing it, that’s awesome. And if not, he doesn’t push it forward or anything. But I, on the other hand, am super interested in what he has to say, because he’s a veteran actor and he’s been around for such a long time and of course, he has a huge background in theater. I was really interested in talking to him about his transition from theater to television and film and how different those three modes of acting are. And we talk about it a lot actually. And my partner and I go to his house almost every single week and his wife cooks this fantastic dinner and we watch the show together and I think we’ve kind of created a family together in Vancouver because our family isn’t there and their family isn’t there either, so we’ve really become great friends and I think that has translated really well to the screen. I think Astrid and Walter realize pretty early on in Season 2 that they were definitely more than just colleagues. They were friends. They have sort of become surrogate family members for each other.

It’s really understandable why Walter would consider Astrid part of his family because he has such a small family and it’s such a sensitive relationship that he has with his son and with Olivia, too. But I don’t know yet why Astrid is so completely taken with Walter. I don’t know if she has anyone in her life like that or if he is filling a role that she’s missing in her life, as well. And hopefully one day we’ll get to find out if Astrid has a family or a father or anybody like Walter or the opposite of Walter and that’s why she’s drawn to him.

You mentioned you were unexpectedly able to sing for an episode. Were you looking forward to the musical and were you pleased with the final product?

It was really great because my background is in musical theater. And John and Josh and I would always joke that Fringe needed to be a musical just because it was the furthest thing that we could ever imagine happening to the show, so when we found out that it really was going to happen, it was really funny. It was almost like we spoke it into reality. And it was a lot of fun because I miss singing and I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to do it on the show and you know when Glee first came out, my heart was a little bit broken because I felt like I was destined to be on that show. Of course, I’m on another really amazing show but I was in show choir. I did all of that stuff that they do on that show and so a part of me yearns to be on it and be a part of it so when we did this musical episode, it was very satisfying. It really was.

I actually sent an email to [executive producer] Jeff Pinkner and asked him if he would please let Astrid sing because in the original script she wasn’t singing. She had a scene where she was supposed to … I actually don’t remember what she was supposed to do, but she wasn’t singing at all and I remember that I said, “I don’t know if you know this but I have a background in musical theater and I am dying to sing in this episode, so please, if you can find it in your creative bones to create a scene where Astrid is singing that would be amazing.” And they totally did it, which was so awesome.

What about a Fringe/Glee crossover? Walter and Astrid could teach a science class.

[Laughs] I could have a whole storyline. Or Astrid could go on Glee and be this super science nerd but it turns out that she really loves to sing so she tries out for the glee club and she’s awesome. They just have to listen to me. I have lots of great ideas.

The second part of the Fringe season finale, titled “Over There, Part 2 of 2,” airs next Thursday at 9 PM/8 PM Central on Fox.

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