'Fringe': Michael Cerveris on the return of September and the series finale full of 'surprise and heartbreak'

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Image Credit: Fox

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What has surprised you most about the fan response to the show?

I’ve been blown away by scale and persistence of the fan response to the show in general and to September in particular. They really have taken September and Donald to their hearts. I just started tweeting this past year and get tweets from China and Russia and all over the Spanish-speaking world, all over the place. I had no concept of how far afield this show reached and how much people love it in so many different cultures of so many different languages.

Do you think you’ll ever get to work on another project that will get you into the crowds at football games, baseball games, American Idol tapings?
You know, I wish I could say I would because I really enjoyed doing all of that stuff, but I don’t think those come along more than once. I cherish every single experience, even when there was a moment that we thought that the New York Giants’ team was going to come and beat us up because we were apparently standing in the wrong place behind their bench and they thought we were stealing plays or something. Even then – and then when I thought that maybe we were going to be set on fire when we were in the pits at the Texas Motor Speedway – those things notwithstanding, I loved that I got to do every one of those things. As much as it upset Josh Jackson that he had to be working while was out having all that fun. [Laughs] I don’t think that he’s ever quite forgiven me.

Tell me more about the last day on set.

It’s funny because I’ve ended loads and loads of plays and plays that have sometimes lasted years and years. And it’s always a mixture of pride and relief and sadness and all the rest of it, but I hadn’t ever had that experience on a series before. I guess the only series that I’ve done regulars in had ended fairly quickly and we didn’t know that we weren’t getting picked up when we left. To actually know very clearly that this was the end was different. It was really nice in most ways because you could say your goodbyes and appreciate having that experience with everybody.

It was odd for me because I have been such a back-and-forth presence. I always struggled, especially in the early years, wanting to feel more a part of the family but because I wasn’t there all the time – in some ways it was great because they were always happy to see me because I hadn’t been around so it was always nice to come back, but I remember talking to Jeff Pinkner and saying, “I feel like I’m not really part of the gang.” He said, “Well, you know, that’s not unusual, and I’m not saying it’s intentional, but it kind of works in some ways for September because he’s not of the world the same way as everybody else.” And he says – I can’t remember if it was Michael Emerson or who it was in Lost who used to complain about the same thing, that they were clearly an important part of the show but just felt like a bit of an outsider when they were on set. But over the years that sort of dissipated, so by the end, by this last year – and because I was so much a part of the story by that point –  I felt more truly and fully a part of the family, the inner family over the last two seasons, and especially this past season. That was a very wonderful thing to feel, that I was very much a part of the family as everybody else by the end.

When people would finish their last scene they’d usually say a few words. There was a lot of crying throughout the day and a lot of laughter too. It was also surreal because we’d been working nights, so our days were upside down, and those last days were 17-hour days, so we were a little delirious too. It was just a really loving and upbeat, oddly upbeat thing. Everybody felt like we set out to do something that hasn’t been done like this before and we did it really well. We can hold our heads up, and this will be there for generations for people to connect with. And that’s really — you don’t always get to have jobs like that that seem to mean something to people.

You’re saying goodbye to two projects in short succession with Evita ending later this month too.

Yeah, and also Treme. This’ll be the third season that I’ve done of that, and we have one more episode to shoot of that too. So yeah, it’s a month of a lot of endings and looking forward to the next chapter.

Do you know what that next chapter is yet?
I don’t know for certain which of the things that are sitting in front of me I’m going to end up doing. Some of them are television things. Some of them are stage things. It’s part of the matter of trying to figure out schedules. I think it’ll be some vacation or just going to watch movies. Something that involves not traveling maybe. But as soon as I say that I’ll probably end up hanging out in New Orleans again for a while.

What can we look forward to in tonight’s finale?

Obviously you can’t please everybody, but I think the devoted Fringe fans – and the casual Fringe watchers – are gonna be profoundly satisfied with the way things play out. It’s packed with action and suspense and just full of emotional resonance, and it functions as a great thriller and suspense story and also gives plenty of time for all of the big, huge philosophical questions about life and what’s important and what you’re willing to sacrifice for and who you care about and what you’re willing to sacrifice for them on a personal level and as part of a community and a world. It’s satisfying on every one of those levels. Everything that you think you know is going to happen then you find out that’s not what’s going to happen and it carries on up almost to the last frames of the series. It’s one really satisfying surprise and heartbreak and joy after another.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

Read more:
‘Evita’ to close in January when Martin, Roger and Cerveris leave
‘Fringe’ series finale will be ‘incredibly emotional,’ says J.J. Abrams
Entertainment Geekly: A deep dive into the history of ‘Fringe’ and a look forward to the finale

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