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'Fringe's' Anna Torv on Australia, acting and Ayn Rand

THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

February 01, 2009|Choire Sicha

Anna Torv stars as agent Olivia Dunham on Fox's "Fringe." She was born in Melbourne, Australia, and lives in New York City until at least April, when shooting is finished on the current season.

What do you miss the most about having a life?

God, what do I miss the most? I think on the days when I have to get up every morning and wash my hair -- I love sleeping in -- just to turn off the alarm button.

Do they make you live in some Fox-approved housing or do you get your own?

We found our own. I moved here very quickly, with a fantastic leasing agent and found a flat. It's just a cozy little New York apartment.

Working in Australia is quite different. Cate Blanchett says that there you're an actor, but also a grip.

Yeah, really different! When you're doing TV in Australia, you're not working with the studio and the network and the production house. And our writer and show runner are in L.A., so everything feels so expanded. But in Australia, it's a little bit smaller. The shows I worked on would shoot two episodes at the same time, then schedule in, like, an additional day to finish things off.

Have you fallen in with the expat Australian crowd in Hollywood?

No. I haven't ever lived in L.A. But I know there's lots of people I know that are living there. But I haven't had a chance to go to any barbecues. But we have our own expat community -- we're collecting them slowly.

Wherever there's one of you, there's four.

It's true!

And what are you reading now?

Oh, this sounds so pretentious! But I'm reading "The Fountainhead," and it's been on my bookshelf for ever and ever. I find it difficult to read when I'm working. Actually loving it! But before -- I did actually just read one of Anne Rice's short stories. I find them easier to read when I'm working.

I've actually read part of your aunt's [Anna Murdoch, ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch] book.

Which one?

I believe it was the carefully disguised one ["Family Business"].

That's why people often ask me: Are you related to Rupert Murdoch, did that help you get the job? And I laugh. "Did you see the divorce? Like, no, I don't think that helped." I didn't read that book -- I read another one, this was years ago, something about a boat or something.

What do you think [show co-creator] J.J. Abrams is up to with "Fringe"? We now see the sort of machinations of the larger plot on the show.

We are really kept in the dark. It sounds so cliche. But it's really true. . . . I certainly don't have a handle on the grand prize.

And what about him? Is he like an Ayn Rand character?

I don't think so! I don't know which one he would be if he was.

What skills have you picked up in this round of shooting?

Like, actual skills? This is the first time I've gotten to do any, like, stunt stuff, like fighting and things like that, which I love! It keeps your whole body engaged. That's a whole new world that's opened up. And driving. I can't believe they let me do some of the driving with the street cars. That's quite fun at 3 a.m.! Zooming down the streets and making sharp turns. There is a skill to remaining focused for such long periods of time and negotiating your way around how this isn't a sprint but a marathon.

Do you get treated differently now? Are there, like, Maxim magazine requests for photo shoots?

No! I do just go from home to work, home to work. Even on the street I sort of feel -- no, no one really notices me when I'm not working, which is lovely, really.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

God, I don't know. I think that's what I'm trying to work out at the moment. I'm not sure in 10 years. I'm trying to think of where I wanted to be 10 years ago.

Probably just out of high school?

No, I would have been in my third year of drama school. I probably wanted to be earning a living as an actor and not selling coffee to people. So maybe it's time to reassess.

It's hard to figure out what one wants to do tomorrow.

I'm a terrible planner. This is exciting because I know what I'm doing until April!

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