Father-son relationship appeals to ‘Fringe’ actors

By Rick Bentley

LOS ANGELES — These days, Joshua Jackson is a long way from “Dawson’s Creek.” Gone are the scenes filled with teenage angst he played through his character of Pacey Witter on the then-WB Network series.

Now he’s Peter Bishop, the street-smart son of the resident genius (played by John Noble) on the Fox series “Fringe” (8 p.m. Tuesday). The series about those who explore the world of the impossible also stars Anna Torv.

Instead of dating worries, Jackson’s character’s job each week is to help save the world from the weird and bizarre events at the core of the new sci-fi show.

The father-son relationship is vital for the viewers. Often it is Jackson’s character who ends up translating the theories of his father. In an interview at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to promote the new series, Jackson called the relationship between father and son special.

“It’s unique on a variety of different levels. Probably the most bedrock one being that these are two very, very intelligent men and that is a constant source of ultimately, I think, appreciation, but antagonism between the two of them,” Jackson says. “I think they’re both used to being the smartest guys in the room, and they don’t really appreciate being made second best, or at least that’s what my character thinks.”

Noble’s take on the relationship is that these are two people who have, by choice, not seen each other in years. They are brought together by circumstances.

“It starts off as a pretty unfortunate relationship. And then we get to know each other again. It’s good stuff. It’s father-son relationships that’s wonderful material to work with,” Noble says.

He smiles, turns to Jackson and says, “And we look the same.”

That father-son relationship was one of the elements of the show that drew Jackson back to television. Since “Dawson’s Creek” dried up in 2003, the Canadian actor has been working primarily in films.

Those film roles have ranged from the political drama “Bobby” to the creepy “Shutter.” He also appeared on stage in London in “A Life in the Theatre” alongside Patrick Stewart.

Jackson’s other reason for being in the series harkens back to his “Dawson’s Creek” days. He likes that the character is so flawed.

“What drew me to the character was the fact that you have this man who has this native intelligence but hasn’t really ever chosen to do anything other than get by with it. And he’s drawn into this world against his will that engages his brain in a way that it probably hasn’t been engaged before,” Jackson says. “I also liked, there’s a built-in, ingrained conflict for Peter because he doesn’t want to be here, period. But then he also really doesn’t want to be forced to confront his father.

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