Jasika Nicole: 'Fringe' Feels Like A Family
Fans of Fringe have longed for an Astrid-centric episode. One that let the character -- and the actress -- take center stage.
There have been glimmers of it over and over again, but nothing that compares to tonight's outing since it not only shines a spotlight on Astrid but also alternate Astrid. Yes that's right, the divine Jasika Nicole enters an elite club of Fringe stars who've acted opposite themselves on-screen.
I caught up with Jasika earlier this week to find out what it felt like for Astrid to finally get her duo due, what she's heard about when the series might come to an end and how she plans to keep Astrid alive long after Fringe comes to a close.
Insider.com: Did you know that this would be the season Astrid finally got to take center stage in an episode?
Jasika: At the beginning of season four, I called Jeff [Pinkner] and Joel [Wyman, creators] and said, straight up, "This could be our last season and I would hate to end with me not asking for an Astrid episode." I was promised there would be every season and there has never been one. They kind of beat around the bush, but as long as I spoke up, that's all I could do. Then a few weeks later all these people started coming up to me on set asking if I'd read the next episode – someone said, "This is it, it's your episode Jasika!" I started freaking out and finally got the script.
Insider: What did you make of the episode?
Jasika: I always felt like if they gave Astrid a big episode, it wouldn't be about her – she was just going to be in it a lot. I had low expectations so I wouldn't be disappointed. But they gave me this beautiful story about these two women, who look exactly the same, but are fundamentally different.
Insider: What can you tease about the episode?
Jasika: Alternate Astrid goes through a traumatic event and she's not as capable of dealing with heavy emotions as Astrid is, so at a loss of where to go or who to talk to, she goes to the other universe – which I think is incredibly brave – and sees "herself" for the first time. I don't think either had any idea what the other was like – I don't think Astrid knew her doppelganger had Aspergers and I don't think the other Astrid assumed she wouldn't. The big reveal moment is a huge surprise for both of them.
Insider: This is your first time playing both versions in the same scene -- did you get any tips from Anna Torv or John Noble, who've both done this before?
Jasika: Yes I did! And I didn't even know I would need to prepare for it. We are reading the next script while still filming the previous episode, so beyond knowing your lines, it's hard to prepare. But let me tell you, being on set with this enormous greenscreen wall and having to change back and forth between costumes over and over, is so overwhelming. There's no way to full prepare for it until you've actually done it. Anna was so sweet – she should write a book about filming with your doppelgangers [laughs]. There's all these tiny little things you would never think about.
Insider: Like what?
Jasika: Like, Astrid wears heels, but the other Astrid wears combat boots, so the eye-line has to change when you're playing each of them. Before we started shooting, Anna came up to me and said, "Just a little advice, I don't want to step on your toes, but you might want to go through the rehearsal first as one character and then do it again as the other, so you have a fierce idea of how you're going to react and respond to the other person." It's so interesting because it's such a technical thing that the crew and director aren't really capable of relaying to you. It's something that could only come from another actor. There's this lovely sense of community between us – not only is it my first big episode, but I'm doing the most difficult stuff ever asked of me! It was a long week, but it was amazing.
Insider: Was there a moment of, Be Careful What You Wish For?
Jasika: [laughs] A little bit! It's f***ing hard man! No wonder everyone is so exhausted at night! This is not easy work – and it was good to experience it first hand. And I'm so thankful that I'm only given a big episode every four years. But there's so much buzz and support on the internet, it's very exciting -- although it must be what Anna and John and Josh [Jackson] feel like all the time.
Insider: I'm curious because this season has shifted many of the storylines and I feel like Olivia sort of took over for Astrid when it came to Walter. I know that was a relationship you cherished, so how did you feel about that choice?
Jasika: I'll be honest with you, I thought, "Then what is Astrid doing on this show?" She's a peripheral character, doesn't have a lot to do with the storyline – she's there more to show off the other characters. I think you learn a lot about Walter through Astrid. And I'm fine with all of that. So when they took that away, it was a personal struggle I had. Eventually, for my own sanity, the story I came up with is that because Walter and Olivia weren't as interested in having a relationship with Peter, that Astrid would be the only person who made Peter feel like he was in a safe place. I don't want to say that the writers don't think about all the details, but they have so many characters to be in charge of – I only have one character to be in charge of, so if there's something lacking, it's huge to me. That's another reason why this episode is so exciting to me.
Insider: Fans are obviously hoping the show gets a fifth season. Have you heard anything on set that we don't know?
Jasika: We honestly still do not know – we feel pretty confident that we'll be back but for a 13-episode fifth season. It's a rumor that's going around, so we all feel like it won't be a full 22 but we'll have time to wrap everything up and provide closure for fans.
Insider: You're currently filming episode 17 -- and I know that Jeff and Joel have repeatedly said that they have a finale plan in place that would take a certain number of episodes to complete. As far as you know, that plan hasn't been initiated, right?
Jasika: There is a huge moment in episode 17 that could actually be the start of the end of the show. I don't think it is though because the writers always do that. I have actually thought that every season finale worked as a series finale – it's such a tease. I have no idea if this is the start of those episodes -- although I don't think they would tell me if it was anyway [laughs].
Insider: When I talked to Josh Jackson a few weeks ago, he remarked that Peter should become an Observer at the end of the series. What do you think Astrid's endgame should be?
Jasika: Whoa! I'm still reeling from the Peter thing. That's cool and it totally makes sense. Oh man. I love that. OK, focus -- Astrid's endgame. OK, I have no idea if this could ever happen but I think there's a real possibility that the Astrid's would live together. Like, one of them would permanently move to the other side. You'll understand that better after tonight's episode, but because of what the alternate Astrid ends up going through in her home world, there's a real potential for her to be forever drawn to this Astrid so I could see her deciding that they are family now.
Insider: I feel like that's the pitch for a half-hour sitcom!
Jasika: What's funny is we actually have created a 30 minute sitcom called Farnsworth P.I. – the idea was created by this guy Ari Margolis and his idea is that Astrid gets caught in a timeloop because one of Walter's experiments goes awry, so she keeps flashing to different decades. It's kind of like Quantum Leap – so to keep herself afloat, she's become a private investigator. So she's in this huge afro and white leather knee-high boots in the 70s and got a gun. She's trying to get back to her original timeline, but she keeps getting thrown around history. I definitely think there's a sitcom out there for Astrid.
Fringe airs Thursday at 9 p.m. on Fox.