Filming last week’s Fringe was taxing on actress Blair Brown, who plays Nina Sharp on the Fox drama, particularly because filming Nina’s torture scene was, well, “torture.”
“I had a welt on the back of my head from banging my head into that bed frame because it was a really nasty, rusty old bed frame, which looked great,” she says. “I had a headache for about two days afterwards. I wouldn’t try it at home.”
But the audience is likely experiencing a little headache themselves following the episode. So in a Fringe Friday chat with Brown (Hey, the show might be on break, but we’re certainly not!) she breaks down the episode and previews what’s to come.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There are so many questions surrounding the characters that you’re playing right now — because there are two Ninas. I know the guys don’t tell you all that much, but what can you tell me about how this episode changes where we’re going in the next few?
BLAIR BROWN: Obviously, the challenge was once I realized that this was Mean-a — Mean Nina — it was hard pretending to be good Nina. There was a terrible tendency [while filming the scene] to want to give little signals like, “This is really the bad Nina!” Of course, that was dead wrong, so it’s very tricky because you’re dying to play a different character. It was like, “No, no, no, you have to play this for real.” Until Olivia goes, “Hey, you know what? You’re not the real Nina,” no one should know that. We now get a chance, in later episodes, to see Mean-a not acting as good Nina. I get to play a somewhat different person. But bad Nina, in her world, there is no William Bell, so there’s no Massive Dynamic. She’s the same person with the same intelligence, the same drive, and same ambition — good or bad. Then, Jones comes along at some point and says, “Be part of this. Oh by the way, we have to cut off your arm.” And she does. We’re talking about a different, a more driven, craven, spurned person in the alternate universe — given that the world seems tougher anyway.
Your chemistry with Jared Harris is fantastic.
Jared and I — he played my son in a play off-Broadway in New York about eight years ago called Humble Boy. In the play, he was this incredibly kind, gentle genius physicist who stuttered, and I was his very domineering mother. So it’s very funny to come back and have him torture me. I was like, “Is this payback in a way?”
That’s hilarious. How much more interaction are we going to see with them together now that wehave some hint of what’s going on with them a little bit?
I hope a lot. Once the regular timeline finds out that Jones and Nina penetrated their world so seamlessly and got out of it, we’re in great peril. What these two are up to, and if they’re together or if they’re apart, becomes pretty significant because both worlds are impacted. So we’ll see where that gets.
Since that was such a big episode for you, what can you say is the next one we can look forward to with some big developments in Nina’s regard?
What happens to Nina next and how this all shakes down in this timeline — once regular Nina knows that she has this whatever-the-hell-it-is out there, how does this work? Massive Dynamic is vulnerable. Jones is vulnerable. Jones, we know, has so much of that knowledge that Bell and Bishop have. It’s a tricky time for everyone.
I thought it was kind of clear that she was a shifter but clearly — as you refer to it — that something that is not necessarily nailed down.
I think it’s not nailed down.
What’s your other theory, if you have one?
I don’t have one because I wait and see. The shifter is certainly one possibility because that’s an area that has been touched on but is much deeper as to how that could work.
As things usually are on Fringe, especially toward the end of the season.
Yeah, exactly. And the Observers are really going to play a very big part towards the end of this season. We’re really getting into really interesting stuff about that reality, their world. Whoever they are.
So what do you know about Mean-a’s motivations at this point. Have they kind of clued you into that?
No. My clue to that was Jeff and Joel saying she was never part of anything until Jones came along. I think you have a pretty resentful and dangerous person there. I think she’s a kind of loose canon, and I don’t know that she’s even loyal to Jones. Maybe she is. The jury is out on that. I don’t know where her loyalty is or whether she’s just a survivor.
One of your fans actually tweeted me a question for you. Last season you talked a little bit about directing an episode. Is that something you get to do this season at all?
I don’t get to this season because the way life worked out it didn’t work. I’m hoping season 5. I’m ready. I think it will happen. It’s just this year sort of ran away with us, my obligations and their obligations to other directors. I hoped it would happen but as the end of the season became more dense for Nina it became difficult. I should have done it in the beginning. But next year, next year.
Last question: In a nutshell, from your point of view, what can you tell fans about what they can expect from this last stretch here?
The thing that’s so interesting is the way the show has evolved these seasons. It’s not simply a sort of freak of the week and our team’s off the problem. Now, things are so layered. Every relationship is so layered, whether it’s parent-child, Walter-Peter, Olivia-Nina. Then you have, obviously, that central love story between Peter and Olivia. As I said, where is Broyles in all of this and his family and his parallel life? There’s so many deep, human stories being told in these metaphysical realities. What I love, just say the Peter and Olivia thing, so does it matter where we are in this episode? Does it matter if this is the real Olivia? If this is the Olivia that taking this on and they’re happy, isn’t that enough or isn’t it? Some people say, “No. He must find her,” and others say, “No, it’s fine. Stay where you are.” It’s so interesting because this is just about relationships but we’re talking about over parallel universes, which is very funny. Given that life is all made up anyway, I think the fun of this show … is playing with multiple ways to look at things. It happens to be in a sci-fi drama but it’s still about people and feelings and relationships. That, to me, is fascinating that they’ve been able to make both of those things happen.
Fringe returns with new episodes March 23.