Anna Torv on FRINGE and the Two Olivias

Anna Torv

Season 3 of FRINGE is splitting its time between our world and the alternate universe, meaning Anna Torv has her hands full playing Olivia, who is currently trapped in the alternate universe and Alt-Olivia, who is pretending to be Olivia here in our world.

Daemon’s TV was there when Anna took some time out from shooting a train station hostage situation to answer questions about the two Olivias, how playing dual characters both challenges her and makes her a little philosophical, and why she loves both of Fringe‘s worlds. There are no spoilers.

On the two Olivias

According to Anna, everything about Olivia and Alt-Olivia this season has surprised her because she had no idea what to expect when they opened up the alternate universe. She thinks she sees Olivia more clearly now that she’s had a chance to look at her from the outside playing Alt-Olivia.

Anna described the differences between Olivia and Alt-Olivia as subtle. They have essentially the same job and the same partners, so its more about attitude.

Anna said there are pros and cons to Olivia and Alt-Olivia: both are “just fighting for their own cause. Neither is right or wrong.”

The thing Anna is most looking forward to is playing Olivia and Alt-Olivia as they are in their own worlds. She thinks that is when personal conflicts will kick in–that will be the real test for the characters because while their loyalties do lie with their own worlds, they will have had a chance to see that they’re all good guys fighting for their own cause. Anna said she hopes that will play out in the second half of the season.

On the challenges of playing both Olivias

Anna said she was very excited at the idea of playing two Olivias and has been having a lot of fun doing it, but she noted that it’s hard to walk the line between them. It’s been especially difficult since the Olivia we’ve known for two seasons hasn’t really been around: she’s been given Alt-Olivia’s memories while Alt-Olivia is pretending to be Olivia.

The most challenging scenes are ones you wouldn’t expect: the ordinary ones like walking up to a crime scene or gathering information. Anna said she has to think about how each Olivia would handle it. Olivia is very by-the book where Alt-Olivia is looser and a bit cockier and Anna said she has to concentrate on what each Olivia would be thinking in the situation.

On getting philosophical

Anna said that playing Alt-Olivia where everyone believes her to be Olivia has made her think about bigger questions like “Who am I?” because she has to wonder if people can only see what is on the outside and if differences even show up there. Can people know or see what is on the inside?

She also talked about how people do treat her differently when she’s dressed as Alt-Olivia and that she thinks she carries herself differently, even when not in a scene.

On being emotionally invested in both Olivias

Anna feels very emotionally invested in both Olivia and Alt-Olivia. She said the two worlds have different dynamics in addition to looking so different, so she really does feel like she is in an alternate universe shooting those episodes. She added that there are pros and cons to both and that since they’re shooting Fringe this season with one episode in our world and then one in the alt-universe, she immerses herself in the world of the episode. Then when they’re done with the episode, she’ll be sad to leave Charlie and the alt-universe behind, but the next day she’s happy to go back to the lab with Peter and Walter. She said she loves both worlds and can’t choose between them yet.

As far as the differences between the worlds go, Anna said her favorite alt-universe Easter Egg was the DOGS (instead of CATS) musical ad on the taxi.

On what Alt-Olivia trait Olivia would want

Anna said that there are probably a lot of things that both Olivia and Alt-Olivia admire about the other, but that Olivia would mostly want Alt-Olivia’s ability to leave work at work. She thinks Olivia has a fundamental struggle with feeling responsible for everyone and everything and wishes she could let some of that go. Anna isn’t sure she could change such a fundamental, core belief, though.

On “repressed” Olivia

When asked if she were having fun playing a more outgoing, less repressed version of Olivia, Anna replied that she is, but that she also never minded that Olivia was repressed. In fact, she thought it was “liberating.” Usually in shows, the man is quiet and keeps his emotions in check while the woman emotes all over the place, but on Fringe, Olivia is cooler in her emotions while Peter and Walter are in the lab making cookies and figuring out where their relationship is going. Anna laughed and said she loves that about Fringe and why shouldn’t a woman be allowed to be less open with her emotions?

On Olivia and Peter

According to Anna, of course we want Peter and Olivia to get together because the show is set up that way, but she likes how the writers have been able to avoid it by putting them one step forward and ten steps back. Throwing Alt-Olivia into the mix is a good way of doing that and Anna is curious to see how Alt-Olivia is feeling about Peter in a while because “he’s a charmer.”

On Shakespeare and Fringe

Anna has performed a lot of Shakespeare, and when asked how that prepared her for Fringe, she answered that both deal with big themes and that it has helped her be able to buy into the world of Fringe, where she is essentially saving the world all the time. She said that she has to be able to say lines like “The shape shifters are going to destroy the world” with a straight face

Anna said that Walter reminds her of the Shakespeare’s fools–in his plays, they are usually the wisest characters, the ones who are joking all the time and filled with sadness underneath and she thinks that is exactly what Walter is.

On her favorite Fringe themes

Anna is very interested in the ethical/moral lines between science and humanity and she is especially interested in the episodes that deal with that. She mentioned “The Same Old Story” episode, Season 1 Episode 2, which dealt with genetically engineered soldiers as an example.

On what Anna likes most about Fringe

When Anna first took the role of Olivia, she didn’t really know what to expect from Fringe, but she said that whatever expectations she had have been exceeded for a long time. She explained that she didn’t know how deep the series would go and she’s not even sure what she thought it would become, but she has been thrilled.

Anna said that she really likes how broad in spectrum Fringe is as it crosses genres. She thinks it’s “scary and mystical” with humor and romance and that “some episodes are like magic, some are heightened, and some are down and dirty.”

Fringe airs on FOX Thursday nights at 9pm/8 central. You can find all our Fringe coverage here.

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