It's the Fringe-Good Wife crossover we never knew we wanted: John Noble is taking his talents to the law firm of Lockhart/Gardner on Sunday (9/8c, CBS) as one of Alicia's eccentric clients who can't seem to keep himself out of court — and who's been murdered as of the beginning of the episode. (He's subsequently seen in flashbacks.) Aussie native Noble called up TV Guide Magazine to talk about Fringe withdrawal, The Good Wife and domesticity.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you going through Fringe withdrawal still, or has that passed?
John Noble: You know, it didn't get a chance to happen. We sort of wrapped Fringe all up, and I headed back to Australia and started to do domestic things like, "Oh golly, gotta paint the house." And then I got the call to come back to America to do The Good Wife. So I left my wife in the middle of all this painting.
TV Guide Magazine: You left your wife to paint the house all by herself?
Noble: No! Well, she can't stay in the house because the fumes are so strong. I'll go back when it's all finished. [Laughs] So Fringe withdrawal may happen once I get back.
TV Guide Magazine: Not to pigeonhole you or anything, but The Good Wife is a little different from Fringe. How'd you get involved?
Noble: You know, interestingly enough, The Good Wife is probably my favorite television show. It's very smart, it's beautifully written, and the cast is fantastic. You can sense by watching it the fantastic chemistry between them. And having Julianna Margulies in the lead — she's perfect. I worked with her solely when I was doing the episode, and it was seriously such a joy. So that was really the top of my wish list. I would speak to my wife, and she would say, "Well, when you finish with Fringe, see if you can get onto The Good Wife." [Laughs] And lo and behold! But it's also wonderful because a lot of people in the crew, they had been our crew in the first year of Fringe when we were in New York.
So it was like a homecoming in some ways, a beautiful experience.
TV Guide Magazine: You play a lawsuit-happy guy. Is he American?
Noble: Do you know? He's not.
TV Guide Magazine: So you get to use your natural accent for once?
Noble: I do! I think it's the first time in 15 years where I can use my natural accent. [Laughs] I'm serious! It was bizarre, I actually found myself slipping into American a couple times. But that was kind of a late decision; when I arrived on the set [executive producer] Robert King said, "What do you think about doing this with your Australian accent?" And I said, "That's great!" [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: The description for the character I have is "Steve Jobs mixed with the Unabomber, but better-dressed and with a sense of humor."
Noble: I read that character description and thought, "What on earth does that mean?" I didn't have any idea, so I decided to ignore that. [Laughs] You know what I think? He was some very smart guy who had made a fortune somewhere in the IT world and sold out, so he had all this money and spare time and basically a festering hatred of humanity, for whatever reason. And he saw himself as a victim, so he kept suing people for the most minor things: His neighbor's dog barks, so he doesn't send a note or anything, he sues the guy. He sues everybody for everything. Totally paranoid; he thinks the CIA are after him. The episode starts with the news that he's been killed, and the police go to Alicia and say, "Do you know anyone who would want this man dead?" And she goes, "Uh, yes." [Laughs] "Where shall I start?"
TV Guide Magazine: You know, between you and Colin Sweeney [Dylan Baker], Alicia gets saddled with these babysitting jobs a lot.
Noble: I know! The character I play really becomes attached to her. And she really wants to lose him! And he goes "No, no, no, no, you're not getting away from me!" So he's continually inventing new people to sue so he can come back and see her again. It's a fun sort of relationship, but obviously it comes to an end, and she has to face that.
TV Guide Magazine: That kind of precludes you from coming back. Or does it? Maybe some more flashbacks down the line.
Noble: I don't know! You know, we had such fun doing it. They said, "Oh, you should come back!" I said, "I can't! You're killing me!" [Laughs] That would be great.
TV Guide Magazine: So you only got to work with Julianna? Or was Archie Panjabi or anyone else around at all?
Noble: Not at all! Actually no, there was this one scene with Josh Charles, who I know and quite like. He's in it, but my character decides to ignore him and wouldn't even look at him!
TV Guide Magazine: You tend to play dads with complicated relationships with their sons, like Denethor in The Lord of the Rings and Walter on Fringe. Your Good Wife character has a deep abiding hatred of humanity, so I'm guessing he doesn't have much in the way of family.
Noble: No, no. He's a loner. One could assume he's probably had a litany of failed relationships in his past judging by the man. But he's also a guy who's been incredibly focused on success, that's for sure. I think there's a lot of frustration with that kind of man who's reached that state, he doesn't probably work anymore because he's sold off his business to someone or other and he's got these frustrations in him and he just takes it out on people. So that's why he's so litigious. It is a very complex character, albeit just one role in one episode. It would be a very interesting character to eke out further... Not that we'll get a chance.
TV Guide Magazine: Have you thought about doing more American TV?
Noble: Oh, absolutely. I enjoy doing television very much. And the standard for television is so very high now, writing standards and acting standards are so high. There are certain roles that I'm attracted to. If it has those degrees of complexity and interest in it, I'll be on the plane straightaway. I would be quite happy if someone said, "You could do another show in New York." There wouldn't be any hesitation from me. I love New York.
TV Guide Magazine: The Americans shoots in New York. Have you seen any of it?
Noble: No, I haven't! Is it good?
TV Guide Magazine: It is fantastic. Put it on your list.
Noble: I will!
TV Guide Magazine: After you finish painting that house.
Noble: Ah yes! Well, and also getting the garden redone. Gotta get that done.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you have a big garden?
Noble: No! It's a little garden. And a little house, too! But we're doing all of that, and I'll go back and rescue my wife, the poor love.