26 October: Georgina Haig talks about Etta’s big sacrifice & her ‘Fringe’ journey

 When LA TV Insider Examiner was up in Vancouver last month to visit the set of Fringe in its fifth and final season, John Noble let it slip that the cast and characters had to deal with the “death” of Etta (Georgina Haig). We rationalized the choice of words in our mind that her being missing for so many years must have felt like a death, but really, we feared the worst: that it was actually a spoiler for the character we had barely gotten to know but already loved’s fate.

In “The Bullet that Saved the World” we saw that fate play out as Etta took one for the team—literally. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she wasn’t shot in the head but still struck down for the cause. And in the end, she opted to let her family go on without her so she could take one final, explosive stand. We caught up with Haig, who had been sitting on the secret for quite some time, to talk about the journey that was Fringe.

LA TV Insider Examiner: Coming into season five, were you aware Etta would go out so permanently—and so early on?

Georgina Haig: Close to filming Joel called me and explained the arc, and then I got the scripts, and we talked about it, and he explained it. It’s just so devastating because now they have to save the world and deal with losing a child [again]. It was really intense, but really brave, I think, in terms of storytelling.

Do you feel like Etta had closure, in the sense that she got to know her parents as an adult and got what she needed from a traditional family unit before she died?

G.H.: I think she felt loved, really, and that’s all she was thinking about [right up until she died]. She spent all that time stopping the Observers from reading her thoughts, but at that moment she just put down her guard and let Windmark feel what she was feeling. I think she was at peace because she just felt loved, and yeah, it kind of gave [closure] to that moment.

It wouldn’t be like Fringe to give everyone a “happily ever after,” and of course, her action furthered the overall cause, so that had to go into her selfless decision, too.

G.H.: I don’t think she’s trying to be a hero, but I think it just sort of makes sense for her.

Even if it’s not intentional, it’s very reminiscent of how Olivia has made so many sacrifices over the seasons. When you were developing the relationship between Etta and Olivia, how much pressure did you feel to sort of mimic some of what she was doing to show Etta really is her mother’s daughter?

G.H.: There was never a direction to be more like Olivia because the assumption was she was growing up without her parents, so she’s her own person. The fact that everyone keeps saying they see similarities in the mannerisms is great because I never really set out to necessarily capture that. I think it’s subconscious because I watched so many episodes of Fringe; I sort of caught up with it and sat with the characters for hours!

I’m glad everyone thinks it’s so brilliant, but it certainly wasn’t on purpose. [Laughs] I guess, in a way, I sort of took inspiration from how Anna plays Olivia so tough and so kind of unshakeable. I tried to use some of that because Etta was similar in that sense, for sure. Look at the world she was living in!

What was the most challenging relationship, as an actor, to develop for Etta and her family in such a short amount of time?

G.H.: Etta and her mom, just because, it happens a little later…and also because I think he’s more accepting of her straight away, whereas with [Olivia], she’s perceiving Etta differently than Peter. She didn’t worry about Etta and the way the world has hardened her. We had to deal with the moral dilemmas; the differences between my right and wrong and my mom’s right and wrong.

In any of these story situations, you’re always trying to find the truth and the reality, so I think Anna and I—and Josh—we’re all going ‘Shit, how would someone deal with being reunited with a child or a parent—on top of this end of the world situation?’ So that was a challenge! We were like ‘Well, we have to go get bad guys now, but really we want to sit down and go ‘Jesus Christ, what happened to you the last twenty years!?’, you know what I mean? There were times when we were torn between wanting to keep the action of the show going but also wanting to examine the relationships. It was kind of hard…but it’s not that show, you know? It’s the family drama on top of the epic sci-fi; that’s the real acting challenge.

There was a very brief scene between Etta and Broyles in “The Bullet that Saved the World”, but obviously she had opened up to him and was working with him for years. Do you feel like he was a surrogate parent to her over the years?

G.H.: She was very close to Broyles, and they worked together, and I’m sure he looked out for her the way Peter or Olivia would, so yeah, I think there was a bit of that. She didn’t have her family, so Broyles and her team and the partner she lost in 4.19 were the people she looked up to and found that comfort from.

But it’s funny because that all happened so quickly. It’s amazing how much history is drawn from just a few looks!

That’s what we were going to point out, too. The moment was short, and it left us wondering if there was an extra scene that you guys shot that may have been left on the cutting room floor from the episode.

G.H.: No, no, there wasn’t. There was literally that one scene, and the other thing you find out is that I taught him how to block thoughts [from the Observers]. That’s kind of a detailed process because it takes a long time, so we know Broyles and Etta spent a long time together and must be close because of that, but we only got that information through a few bits of dialogue.

And is this the absolute last time we will see you on Fringe or is there a chance for a flashback scene or a moment of remembering from a family member in a later episode in the season?

G.H.: [Laughs] There has to be something! I have no idea what [but] it’s Fringe; anything can happen!

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