“There are two very famous soaps in Australia: Home and Away and Neighbors,” says Noble, who appeared on the former (though his recollection of his character — “I think I played a psychiatrist in one and I don’t know what else in the other” — is a bit fuzzy). “They go on at 6 o’clock at night, and they’ve been going forever and ever,” he adds, noting that the daily dramas have been “incredible launching pads” for actors like Melissa George (The Slap), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck). “That’s such a useful grounding for them, obviously.”
Noble played Anatoly Markov, a Russian consul plotting to manipulate Abu Fayed’s terrorist cell into taking down the United States in Season 6; the part put him in several scenes with Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack. “Kiefer’s a very exacting man in terms of his own expectations of himself and others,” Noble says. “But if you go in there and you’re there to work, it’s fantastic. And I was, and always am. So we got on really well” — even after Jack hacked off one of Markov’s fingers during an interrogation.
Noble points to what he calls an amusing experience on Season 3 of CBS’ military procedural as something typical in the life of a guest actor. He didn’t have to audition for the part of The CEO — “Someone rang me and said, ‘Can you get to set by tomorrow morning?'” — but when he arrived at work, someone from the production “didn’t have a clue who I was, and he sent me down to the extras tent,” Noble says, chuckling.
“No one ever knew what was right or wrong with Walter, so I made it up as I went,” Noble says of the Fox series’ resident genius/flawed father, citing the Season 2 installment “Peter” as one of his favorites. “It was very powerful for us,” Noble remembers, even though he spent most of the hour apart from co-stars Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv while Walter broke the laws of space and time to save his son. “I loved that episode.” Noble’s affinity for his sci-fi alter ego remains. “If I could have written a character to play for the rest of my life,” he says, “it’d be Walter Bishop.”
“I can remember being constantly challenged by the writers, who knew that I was on for anything,” Noble says, who remembers having to come up with a dance for a scene in the Season 1 episode “Inner Child.” He beseeched his daughter, Jess, to help him choreograph the moment, which was supposed to distract a sick little boy while Walter fitted him with a scary-looking helmet. “I finished up with this movement, with this stupid thing kicking on my head, and I’m doing this,” he says, laughing, demonstrating by holding his his hands high and swinging his hips back and forth. Torv and Jackson, who were off-camera, cracked up, he recalls. “They renamed it ‘Having Sex With a Tall Girl.'”
Noble’s commanding voice + his relationship with Fringe co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci = his voicing the evil Unicron in the Hub network animated series. “I would always go out of my way to do things for those men, because I admire them so much.”
Dark Matters: Twisted But True
Noble hosted the American version of the British series, which delved into Fringe-like phenomenon. “It was fun to do, and it was quite popular,” he says. “They were going to do a third season, were, were… and then didn’t want to. That’s the way it goes.”
The Good Wife
“That was my wife’s favorite show,” Noble says, so she was very happy when he was cast as an old client of Alicia’s who left her millions in his will. “That was a joy to work on such a good script and a really fine company of actors — and I knew a lot of the crew, who had been my crew [on Fringe] previously,” he says fondly. Noble has appeared on the CBS drama twice, but another return doesn’t seem likely… especially because his character is dead. “They do talk about that sometimes,” he says, chuckling. “I doubt it.”
After Fringe‘s 2013 finale, “I really hadn’t intended to go straight back into episodic television at all,” Noble says. But when Kurtz called with an pitch for Noble to play sin-eater-with-a-secret Henry Parrish, “I was thrilled,” the actor says, calling the arc that eventually revealed Henry as Ichabod and Katrina’s son, Jeremy, “an actor’s gift.”
Sleepy Hollow (Cont’d.)
In Season 2, however, the show wandered a bit, and Noble got restless. “They didn’t have a clue what to do, and so that meant it was a pretty unsatisfactory year for me,” he says. He adds that he and co-star Tom Mison “were hoping to have more scenes together, because that’s when it was really interesting, when Tom and I had the shots to bounce off each other. He loved it, and I did, too. And that just didn’t happen.” Still, Noble says he plans to check in with the Fox series as a viewer. “Obviously, a lot of thought has gone into what to do with Sleepy Hollow. And if this network is investing in another 18 episodes, then they must have had very strong reassurances that there is a major reboot,” he says. “I’ll be fascinated to see what the reboot is.”