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Oct/12
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Tonight’s episode was a major one, [BE AWARE OF SPOILERS] especially now that it seems we’ve said a goodbye to Etta, a character that many of us have come to love since being introduced in “Letters Of Transit” but it was not only us who were sad to see her go. Just as the episode came to a close, one-by-one multiple sites released post-episode interviews done with Georgina, where she talked about learning of her character’s fate and much more. Click through for a collective of interviews after tonight’s shocking reveal!

 Just when you thought Fringe couldn’t possibly get any darker, they go ahead and air tonight’s shocker, “The Bullet That Saved the World.” When Hollywood.com visited the Fringe set in Vancouver last month,Joshua Jackson told us that this season’s fourth episode would be a major game-changer — but even we never thought that the Fringe folks would go this far. We called up Georgina Haig (Etta) to get her thoughts on tonight’s tragic ending, and it goes without saying that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

In a terrible twist of fate, tonight’s episode ended with Peter and Olivia’s (Anna Torv) newly-found daughter, Etta, being shot by an Observer, then blowing herself to smithereens to eliminate any remaining bald guys in the area. To say it was unexpected would be a massive understatement. “I don’t know how people are going to react!” Haig said with a laugh. “All I know is that it’s incredibly interesting now, watching the parents have to deal with [Etta’s death] on top of saving the world, again. Having to find the strength to somehow move through it. They’ve made the stakes as big as they possibly can, and they’ve dug the emotional well the deepest it could possibly be. It’s a very harsh thing to do, but a brave thing to do, in terms of storytelling.”

How Peter, Olivia, and Walter (John Noble) will react to Etta’s demise is almost impossible to predict, but Haig did tell us that the rest of the resistance would start using her likeness as a symbol of the rebellion, à la The Mockingjay in The Hunger Games. “She becomes this symbol of hope,” she said. “I know they made a poster. They end up using her as a symbol of the resistance.”

Hmm. Something tells us posters bearing their dead daughter’s face might be an unwelcome promotional material for the Bishop family, but Haig did mention that she thinks the manner of her death was oddly poetic. “I spoke to [Producer] Joel [Wyman] once I knew I was coming back,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. Then he told me, and I was just like, ‘Oh God! Haven’t they been through enough?’ But I thought it was a great death…. At first [Etta] is looking to her parents as this symbol of hope, then she briefly becomes that through her own actions. I think it’s bittersweet that she becomes the savior that she looks for in her parents — she ends up having to rise to the occasion, and make the sacrifice. It’s an amazing way to go, sacrificing yourself and blowing yourself up into a million pieces.”

Still, all bravery and poetry aside, Haig did say that she didn’t enjoy leaving the Fringe team. “You get close to people so quickly, because it’s such an intense work environment,” she explained. “14 hours a day, eating all your meals together… it’s not a usual work environment. You bond with people. The four episodes felt like a long time, and I was really sad to leave. I didn’t have to act much in the dying scene, because I was really sad to be dying! Like, ‘Screw you, Joel! Whatever.'”

Screw you Joel, indeed! Etta will be missed, but, as Haig mentioned, the show’s crew did offer some hope: “I was pretty upset,” she said. “All the crew [members] were like, ‘Ugh, whatever. It’s Fringe, you’ll probably be back. People die and come back all the time.'” Fingers crossed!

Well, I did not see that twist coming… 
Oh god … I know, it’s a sad one, isn’t it?

How did [executive producer] Joel Wyman explain it to you — were you warned before you even started shooting the season?
Yeah, but only just, because when I first got told that I was in Season 5, I knew it was a bunch of episodes. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen and I was kind of guessing, coming up with scenarios in my head and I finally spoke to Joel and yeah, he explained the trajectory and I was like, “Oh my God. It’s so much to put all those characters through,” and he told me the story and it’s a really brave decision by everyone and brave because now those characters have to deal with the loss of a child on top of saving the world and it’s just incredible that they put them through that, but yeah. I thought it was kind of beautifully done.

Like you said, it’s a huge catalyst to propel the story forward and give everything even higher stakes, but it is pretty bleak. Do you worry that the fans are just going to want to kill themselves after this episode? 
[Laughs.] Yeah, I don’t know. The thing is, the fans I think have become really invested in my character quite quickly. It’s really because I was part of the family straightaway; I think you just have to kind of whisper the name “Bishop” and then everyone’s like, “Yep, right. She’s a Bishop. We’re on board with her.” It was lovely for me, and it meant they could really invest everyone in my character quite quickly because the family dynamic and everything is so strong, so yeah. I think that gave them license in a way to feel confident enough in everyone being invested enough to feel the impact … It sounds horrible that they’re just playing with people’s emotions! [Laughs.] We’re bastards, I hate to say it.

Is Etta really, truly dead, though — no time travel, no sneaky switcheroos?
Oh, man, I know. I was having a great time in Vancouver, you know? I would stay! I had my last day and I was really upset, obviously … just like, “Oh God. That was final. I could learn to ski if I stayed!” Everyone’s like, “Oh, Georgina, it’s ‘Fringe,’ you never know what could happen.” They were so nonplussed. They’re just like, “Whatever, it’s Fringe.” Whereas I was like, “No. I’ve been obliterated into a million pieces. I haven’t just died, I was like self-combobulated or whatever it was. It’s done.” And then they’re like, “But it’s ‘Fringe.’” So who knows? I feel like these guys can get around any corner but I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

This is a fairly method question, but what was going through Etta’s mind in those final moments? Can you talk about how you approached the scene?
Yeah. It was so funny … It makes me upset even thinking about now. I was just thinking that someone loved me finally. I was just thinking there was all the fighting with Windmark and trying to get the gun and then all of a sudden I felt incredibly calm and relaxed and was just thinking about my parents and the thought that I was loved and in the end, that was all that mattered to her. So it was kind of like a peaceful moment just before … [Gets choked up.] It’s incredibly sad. I just miss everyone as well — I loved being there!

Did you get to have any discussions with Anna [Torv] or Josh [Jackson] about how this affects their characters from this point on? Were you commiserating with each other?
Not really, no. Everyone has their own private processes I think and we didn’t really talk about that. We just talked about how it was sad, really. It’d be like, “Oh, baby, you’re dying next week,” and then, “Oh, you’re dying tomorrow,” and I’m like, “I know. I don’t want to go,” and they’re like, “We don’t want you to go either,” and it was kind of like that. It wasn’t profound or anything. It was kind of like, arm around your shoulder, “Let’s go do this,” kind of thing. It was just sad.

Do you know how the series ends, did Joel clue you in to the whole story?
I know vague things but I’m always e-mailing John [Noble]. I’m like, “What’s happening? What are you doing?” And he’s like, “Oh, this happened,” and I’m like “Oh, awesome!” They keep us in dark, we’re just like the fans trying to grovel for any information we can get. Yeah. I kind of know the overall arc but a lot of the detail’s missing, so I’m sort of hanging out for the episodes as much as anyone else.

You did such a great job of really capturing Anna’s mannerisms and making Etta similar to Olivia, what was your preparation process like?
It’s so funny. It wasn’t really a conscious decision because I kind of approached it like, “Well, she’s her mother’s daughter but she hasn’t spent time around her.” But having said that, I have an uncle who had a son who he didn’t meet for 20 years and finally they were reunited and I was shocked at how similar they were. Mannerisms and quirks that were impossible to have been there from observation, like they were there from birth and it’s just fascinating. I watched Anna before I even auditioned for Etta. I just watched “Fringe” and I watched her and maybe subconsciously there are certain things that came through and then being around her and dealing with similar information and the way she dealt with information, I’m sure it kind of started to influence how I was talking a bit and all that. But I didn’t really set out to consciously mimic or anything like that. I tried to keep it more subtle I suppose. I definitely wasn’t trying to mimic Joshua Jackson. [Laughs.] I wish I could’ve, but I don’t know if Dad came through! It would have been fun to make her a little bit more cheeky, just make her a bit more like Peter. I think if she hadn’t have died she would have maybe got into the happy-go-lucky a little bit more.

What were your favorite scenes to shoot and what do you wish you could’ve done more of?
I loved doing the final stuff in that huge warehouse. Because the focus that you need and then being in that space and doing all that stuff is just really intense but really fascinating to do. I loved doing that little scene with John in the market, just one of those small scenes of the episode but it’s really sweet and I don’t know why I just thought of that, but… I guess because there was so much action and so much anger and confusion. Just having that little moment of sweetness was really nice. The action stuff was really fun and that’s kind of new to me. And the other guys are sort of old hand at it. It was like, “Am I holding the gun right?” and Anna’s like, “Yeah. Yeah.” And I was like, “Thanks, mom!” and she was all “That’s good, honey.” It was a perfect example of that mother-daughter bond. [Laughs.]

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We’re not sure where to start. But I guess walk us through how much you knew before you got the script and then your reaction after you read it. 
HAIG: It’s funny — going into it, I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. When I got the call that I’d be doing the fifth season, I was excited, but I didn’t know the trajectory of the character or even how many episodes I was doing. It’s so secretive even for us! [Laughs] Then I got a call from Joel [Wyman] and he took me through the four episodes and what was going to happen and I was blown away. I was really moved and also I was — I thought it was really brave to take such an emotional leap for all the characters at that point in the story. I just thought it was a really brave thing to do with the story.

Especially because I think there’s a sector of fans who really grew to love Etta in such a short time. What was that reception like for you? 
I think I’m lucky because I entered as part of the family straight away. And because Fringe is like a family — literally and metaphorically — the fans sort of embrace you if the world ofFringe has embraced you, if you know what I mean. There was definitely an immediate response as soon as it was worked out that I was the daughter, they were invested. And I don’t think they needed all that much time to invest in me because the relationships were so intense from the get-go.

Last week you had a great scene with Olivia in a car. I think that definitely threw me off the scent of this twist in the story because it seemed like they were really into progressing the mother-daughter relationship. What’s your take on that?
I know! We felt like that the whole time; they were setting it up to knock it down. As an actor I felt the same thing. I was so invested and loving being there knowing I was going to die. Being there in Vancouver and being part of this show was so reflective of what my character had to go through — you left all these great people behind. But I’m just amazed. So much has to happen on Fringe in terms of the plot and the saving the world stuff and the other characters, they’re able to make so much of these moments. That moment in the car happened so quickly and carried so much weight in amongst all the action. But that’s what the show does really well — balancing out the action with these incredible poignant moments.

You had quite a few of those moments in this episode, too, with the bullet necklace. With that exchange, do you think, as a whole, Olivia and Etta had reached a point of resolution in terms of their relationship? I’m curious to get your perspective on where their relationship ended

I think it’s really sad because, of course, a million things weren’t resolved. They got to that point where it had moved from uncomfortable to slightly more comfortable in this dynamic of being reunited. But I think she could see the strain between her parents and there was still so much she couldn’t say and was still learning so much about herself. And her own world — her perspective of right and wrong [versus] Olivia’s. In episode two we explored that quite a lot. There was so much left unsaid. But in four, I think what is resolved is the love and strength between them. But if it was my choice I wouldn’t have died and played out the family drama. [Laughs] There was a lot to explore, but there’s [also] a lot for the writers to explore with me dying and the characters dealing with that. What happens next will, I’m sure, be very interesting — not that I have any idea what that is.

Which was my last question. What do you know?
I know a little bit, but even the little bit I know is kind of vague. They don’t give too much away because they probably know we will be asked. [Laughs] But it’s going to be awesome.

Well, there are a lot of returns on Fringe. Any chance of you being a part of it in some way? Any hopes of a return? 
It’s so funny because I was all emotional, and everybody was just like, ‘Ugh, whatever, Georgina, you’ll just be back. It’s Fringe. Everybody dies about four times.” And I was like, “Yeah, but I’ve been obliterated into millions of pieces!” [Laughs] It wasn’t just a death, it was a mega-death. It was a death with a full stop. So I don’t know. Anything is possible.

 

When did you learn this was going to be Etta’s fate?
Georgina Haig: I didn’t know until quite close to filming. All I knew at first was she was back for a bunch of episodes, and I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but I was sort of trying to guess. And then I spoke with [FRINGE showrunner] Joel [Wyman] and he explained to me the story arc of those four [season 5] episodes, and I just thought, “Oh.”

It’s almost like a little mini-film in a way. It happens so fast: they’re reunited and they’re bridging all these gaps and a whole new gap is created. It’s terribly sad, but a brave move in terms of storytelling.

What kind of reaction are you expecting from viewers when they see her death?
GH: I thought it was going to air last week, so I was Googling “Etta death.” [Laughs] But because of baseball, it got pushed back. I’m really curious to see what people think. I think the main thing is people aren’t expecting it.

I think it’s going to be a real shock, because they’ve really set it up, like FULL HOUSE, it’s all happening. The Olsen twins are back with the family. It’s really set up that this is the team to stop the Observers and instead, they create this whole new emotional situation for the parents and Walter. I think they knew people wouldn’t expect it and that’s part of the reason they said no, we’re going to do this. I don’t know what people are going to think! Hopefully they’ll be a little bit sad! Hopefully they’re not too angry.

Etta also got really sweet moments with both of her parents in “The Bullet That Saved the World” before she died. Do you think she died at peace?
GH: Yeah, and that wasn’t something I discovered, really, until we were filming it. It’s not completely clear in the way it was written exactly what she’s feeling when she dies. But amongst all the violence and blocking it out in rehearsal, it became clear to me that she’s at peace in that moment. She’s not fighting anymore. She’s thinking about the fact that she’s finally been loved. She’s at peace because she’s been loved and she’s thinking about her parents and she’s not fighting with Windmark anymore and she’s not blocking her thoughts. She just lets him feel that. And then she goes, in peace.

And she takes out a lot of Observers in the process, too.
GH: [Laughs] Yeah. That bit isn’t so peaceful. That bit is kick-ass.

I mean, there could be an argument made that she was one of the toughest characters FRINGE has had — in many ways, she was ruthless. What kind of challenges did that bring for you as an actress?
GH: In a way, that stuff is taken care of because it’s written she shoots someone or she tortures someone. It’s there, versus having to play the vulnerability amongst the toughness, to kind of frame the dynamics of it. To make it believable this person could be on the one hand, ruthless, and on the other hand, fragile and able to open herself up to embrace new love and stuff like that…it was more about being able to find the contrast in that.

Speaking of playing Etta, I know you spoke with Fox about watching some of their YouTube recaps of the show before you auditioned. Was there anything in particular you were trying to draw from your on-screen parents? You were remarkably convincing as the child of Peter and Olivia.
GH: [Laughs] Everyone keeps saying that! It’s sort of not something I thought of consciously, which sounds weird. I guess auditioning for it, I watched stuff on YouTube; I didn’t actually watch tapes of the episodes because I didn’t have that much time to prepare. So I just watched the recaps on YouTube and clips of them, and went, “Okay, they’re my parents, this is the world.” And approached it from there.

And then before [season 5], I watched all of it. [Laughs] Like, hundred of episodes of FRINGE to recap and be in that world and be around them. And I wanted it to be subtle. Subtle but there, I suppose, because she hadn’t grown up with them. But I think mannerisms and quirks, you’re born with them. Born with similarities to your parents, you don’t learn them. Yeah, I guess it was more subconscious. [Laughs] It’s not like I studied Anna, but I guess I subconsciously did because I watched her so much!

Do you have a favorite Etta moment that you’ve filmed so far?
GH: I’m not sure, really. I really liked the scene with [on-screen dad] Josh [Jackson (Peter)] and I in the lab…there was so much there: dealing with the loss of a parent figure until she met her parents and then she found her parents again. And then having to suppress the feeling and then go and torture someone [in “In Absentia”] — it was an interesting conflict to deal with and I just like working with Josh on that scene and how we worked out how to do it.

I like doing the action stuff. [On-screen mom] Anna [Torv (Olivia)] helped me out, because I’m like, “Am I holding the gun right, Mom?” [Laughs] She’s like, “All good.” I loved doing the tender moments against the craziness. Moments with [on-screen grandfather] John [Noble (Walter)]. And the scene with Anna and we’re talking about the moral dilemma of torturing people, that was really interesting to do: trying to tell Mom what my world is now and trying to get her to understand. That was challenging, that scene, but really interesting to do.

Do you have a lot of unresolved questions about Etta?
GH:
 I guess I created her history in my head. Whether or not that’s the right history, Joel could turn around and say, “Actually, this is what happened to her.” As an actor, you get told a certain amount of information and you have to create the rest.

I guess my question would be if something happened in the future, where would they take the relationship from here? If she hadn’t had died, what would the dynamic have been between them all. And I can’t really say much, because I don’t want to give away the rest of the season. [Laughs]

Right. I assume you can’t say anything about whether you’re returning…
GH: Right, I mean, it’s FRINGE. Anything can happen. That’s what everyone keeps saying. But they always keep the actors in the dark, too. I keep emailing John [to ask], “What are you doing?!” [Laughs]

‘Tis better to have been loved and lost your life, than never to have been loved at all.

That twist on Tennyson pretty much sums up how Fringe‘s Georgina Haig feels about Peter and Olivia’s daughter Etta sacrificing her life at the close of the final season’s fourth episode.

“Before she dies, there’s a moment of peace, almost like a relaxation, as she’s thinking about how she has finally been loved – and she doesn’t care that Windmark can see that, so she lets her guard down,” Haig tells TVLine of Etta’s selfless act, dying along with many Observers as she sets off an anti-matter bomb.

“To be loved is the most basic of human needs, after food and shelter,” the Aussie actress continues. “And while she has had support through her life, and she’s had Simon [as a partner], it’s just not the same. She never felt really loved until she reunited with [her parents]. And that’s what makes her death peaceful in a way. She stops fighting [Windmark’s thought-reading ] and let’s that contentment wash over her.”

Haig first guested on Fringe, of course, in Season 4?s Episode 19, “Letters of Transit,” which served as a prequel to the Fox series’ futuristic farewell run. “They said there was the possibility of me recurring if Season 5 happens… so when it [got picked up], everyone was really excited,” she recalls. “I knew that I was coming back but I had no idea in what capacity or what would happen to me.”

Because she had joined the series as a member of the Bishop family, “The cast embraced me completely,” Haig effuses. “John [Noble] took me out for lunch and said, ‘Ask me anything.’ Anna [Torv] went out of her way to make sure I met the crew before we started filming. And Josh [Jackson] made sure that I got out and saw Vancouver.” Likewise, “The fans embraced my character because I was part of that family.”

Haig’s first conversation with show runner Joel Wyman coming into Season 5, however, made clear Etta’s tragic destiny. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so sad!’ And yet it’s so brave of them to put these characters through that trauma in Episode 4, just a third of the way into the story. It’s almost like an inciting incident.”

Make no mistake, though — Haig didn’t let Etta go quietly into the night. “I was like, ‘Joel, how about instead of her dying, she just falls unconscious and is locked into a cupboard, and they find her later…?’” she shares with a laugh. “I didn’t want to die, because it was so awesome being on the show.”

Before meeting her maker, Etta was able to facilitate an awaited and emotional reunion between her mother and Broyles, who obviously missed the team’s old-school Fringe days. The significance of the scene was not lost on the newcomer. “I had watched all of the previous seasons and I definitely knew what all those characters meant to each other, so it was sort of surreal in a way, standing there watching it happen,” she says.

And as for Etta’s grand farewell, the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” nature of it soothes some of the sting for Haig.

“If you’re going to go, you want a hero’s death,” she notes. Plus, “They explored so much in four episodes with my character, I felt really lucky!”

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