Alternate worlds are going to be an even larger aspect of the Fox sci-fi series Fringe when the show returns for a third season on Sept. 23. That means playing a totally different character for most of the cast, including Jasika Nicole. She worried in the beginning about how long her role, a junior federal agent named Astrid Farnsworth, would hang around. “I still take the PDF file and I search for Astrid and I make sure she doesn’t die. You never know!” she says. But her patience has paid off over that slow build, getting to play both Astrid in our world and the very cold and enigmatic Astrid of the alternate universe. She talked at Comic-Con last week about the differences between those characters and what family member she looked to for inspiration for alterna-Astrid, so read below for her thoughts.
Photos courtesy of Fox
When the third season opens, Nicole says, the loyal and warm Astrid we’ve seen for a couple years now will have a closer bond than ever with Walter Bishop (John Noble), since he’s lost the support system he’s had because of the revelations to his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) and FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv). She also says we’ll get to see Astrid’s home this season. “Her apartment is like a hippie den, and she’s got like eight rugs on the floor and all these lamps and rich colors. I would never have known her apartment looked like that,” Nicole says, laughing.
This year, though, she has a whole other character to talk about with the alternate-universe Astrid. Viewers had a chance to meet her in her beret and combat boots briefly in the May season finale, but they’ll see a whole lot more starting in September. “She’s tricky but she’s really cool. She’s so guarded that it’s a little bit easy to play her because I don’t have to relate to anybody. It’s like performing monologues, which is an interesting thing to do in a television show,” Nicole says.
“It’s really just playing a completely different charter, almost in a different show. The alternate universe is so different — none of the characters she interacts with are the same. It’s like doing a regional theater show for summer stock where you’re doing seven different shows at the same time, and you’re rehearsing one show during the day and performing another one at night.”
Nicole’s favorite aspect of playing alterna-Astrid is that she doesn’t make eye contact with anyone, something only sharp-eyed viewers aw in the season finale. “She speaks toward them and she’ll look at them, but not when she’s speaking,” Nicole explains. “That’s really funny to play because people get uncomfortable when I’m doing that in a scene. She doesn’t really respond to their facial expressions or what they’re doing. She’s not interested in that. She’s only interested in relaying the information that she has for them.
“That was something my sister does that I always thought was really interest. She’s not quite as high functioning as Asperger’s, and that was one of the first things that we knew that something was up with her: She would talk to you looking at the side of you, and then she would look at you, and then when she’d start talking again, she would look away. We just thought it was a quirky thing, and come to find out that’s one of many, many different things that kids who have autism tend to get. I’m trying to not incorporate everything about my sister, but just things that I know really well to take from my own experience and put into alternate Astrid.”