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Metamorphosis: Mark Valley Talks About Playing John Scott on FOX's "Fringe"

Tonight's episode of Fringe ("The Transformation") is said to feature the return of the morally ambiguous Agent John Scott, played by Mark Valley, a dead man who has been popping in and out of Olivia Dunham's consciousness for some time now. Just what are his motivations? Did he love her? Is he a good guy or another black hat?

I'm hoping that we learn some answers in tonight's episode but before then I had the chance to chat with Mark Valley about his pivotal role as John Scott on Fringe and about what we can expect to discover in tonight's installment.

Speaking to a group of journalists last week, Valley admitted that he had a cold but was extremely tight-lipped about just what John Scott has been up to on the series, even after his character died in the pilot episode. "I just always felt, for a guy whose character dies in the pilot," said Valley, "I’ve gotten an awful lot of work on this show."

So should viewers be of the feeling that Agent John Scott is a hero or actually a traitor?

"I think he’s just a real believer," said Valley. "I think he’s really serious about what he does, and whoever it is that he is working for, he’s extremely loyal to them. Aside from that, I don’t really want to judge it, to be honest with you."

"I think that whether he’s good or bad, there’s a degree of guilt that he carries around with him," continued Valley. "Actually, now that I think of it, I actually forget to play that, but it makes a lot of sense though, doesn’t it? [Laughs] I think that when you watch it, you’ll have to make up your own mind about that. I just look at him as a regular person. He’s done some things and he did them because he believed in them and there is sort of a tragic situation that comes out of it."

Speaking of tragic situations, can viewers expect to see John Scott in the flesh, as it were, or just via John's memories current inside of Olivia's consciousness?

"I can’t really say," conceded Valley. "I think you’ll probably see both, but I can’t really confirm, nor what condition he’s going to be in in either of those situations."

But will there be some form of resolution for John Scott as a character, given his condition, in upcoming episodes?

"They do answer some questions that have been lingering in my mind," said Valley, very carefully choosing his words, "like who he’s been working for exactly, and he sort of confirms the verity or the truth of his feelings toward Olivia."

Does Valley himself have any theories about what's going on with John?

"Yes. My theory is that he is working for the government and he’s working for the Postal Service, and he’s not very happy about it, and he is a disgruntled postal worker," quipped Valley. "I’m just joking. I don’t have any theories, to be honest with you, because every time I’ve gone down that road and come up with something, it seems to take a turn in a different direction, so I try to keep an open mind about all of that."

But does John's state as dead or alive affect Valley's performance on the series?

"I think when you’re talking about John Scott being inside Olivia’s brain, then you’re dealing with a consciousness, or the way someone remembers someone, as well as his own particular memories and his own conscious," he said. "I like to think that his consciousness is actually in her head, so it’s actually as if he were definitely alive... I think when somebody is dead, your job is a lot easier. I just kind of lie there. You don’t really have to do anything, so that’s probably the big difference. Work’s a lot easier when he’s dead."

And what does he make of the use of fatal incidents aboard airplanes in both Fringe's pilot and "The Transformation" (not to mention in the pilot of Lost)?

"Can you imagine being on an airplane with J.J. Abrams, just kind of sitting there, what’s going through his head?" joked Valley. "He’s probably thinking about people screaming and luggage flying everywhere. [Laughs]"

At the end of the day, is the science that Fringe investigates possible in the real world?

"When you look at some things like the spread of an Ebola virus, or some of these other super viruses and strains that just act so quickly, that can get your imagination running," admitted Valley. "I think that there are aspects of science fiction and technology that can hint toward what this show portrays, but to answer your question, no. I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t believe in ghosts, and some people say there are ghosts. I just would have to see it myself."

While Valley was cagey about upcoming plot points for Fringe, he was certainly a dark horse when it came to talking about his co-star Anna Torv... especially as it came out yesterday that Valley and Torv had secretly married over the holidays after very quietly dating for several months.

"I think she’s just a fantastic actor," said Valley of Torv, "and I really like working with her, because she has such a solid idea of what’s going on in a scene and what her objective is and what she’s going to do. Yes, I’ve enjoyed working with her, and as a person, she’s just delightful."

(Delightful? I would hope so.)

"I would say I just enjoy working with everybody on the cast," he said later. "Most of my scenes have been with Anna. She’s delightful. She’s my favorite on the show, to be honest with you, but as far as the others go, Kirk [Acevedo] is really good actor and I always wanted to work with him. He’s a really wonderful actor, Kirk is. I never met Josh [Jackson] before and I never met John Noble before, and I haven’t had any scenes with them either. Blair Brown, she’s a wonderful experienced actor, and Jasika [Nicole], they’re all just really nice people. There’s no drama on the show at all, but I would say Anna and Kirk are probably my favorites."

Valley was asked about the challenges in playing a character like John Scott who is sort of suspended in the memory of another person.

"What I think is challenging is playing a character that is in her memory, or in her consciousness," said Valley. "It is challenging trying to think of where he comes from, where he’s going, what he’s aware of, and what is he not aware of, and what does he remember, and what does he not. That is a little bit challenging. It is sort of taking the character out of the ether and placing him somewhere and trying to figure out how he would react. That I find challenging."

As for what he's learned from working on Fringe, it might not be what the FBI wants to hear.

"Probably that LSD can actually be used for practical purposes," joked Valley, "and maybe the idea that a virus could actually be grown into some sort of parallel organism, like that cold virus is still kind of creeping me out, especially because I have a cold right now. Every time I cough, I think, [I hope] it’s not like one of those things... There are probably going to be classes taught with big Fringe Science biology textbooks. You never know, like at the local Learning Annex, you know: Learn Fringe Science."

Tonight on Fringe ("The Transformation"), another bizarre incident aboard an international flight prompts the Fringe Division to investigate, where they encounter some rather freakish remains at the crash site; Olivia receives a visit from an old friend who may have crucial knowledge about the event.


Anonymous said…
I had no idea that Torv and Valley were married (let alone dating). I guess they're really using their FBI stealth skills.

Glad to see that Valley is going to be part of the show tonight as I really like his character and am interested to see where that's all going to go.
Anonymous said…
This show has really taken off. "The Transformation" was a great installment. It seems like this show is starting to fire up its gears, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's as mindblowing as Lost by the finale. Too bad it couldn't have started out as compelling as it is now.

Mark Valley's a great actor. Loved him in Keen Eddie and Pasadena, and the other stuff I've seen him in. He and Anna Torv seem to make a good couple, and I hope they can last happily.

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