When TV’s go-to guest star Stephen Root drops in on “Fringe” this Friday, fans of “Office Space” can only hope there’s a cosmic incident involving a red stapler.
No stranger to projects with a devoted cult following (“King of the Hill,” “Newsradio” and several Coen brothers films among them), the beloved character actor tells PopcornBiz he’s making his first-ever on screen acting appearance opposite his real-life wife, actress Romy Rosemont – whom “Glee” fans will recognize as Finn’s mom – on the fourth season episode of Fox’s sci-fi series titled “And Those We’ve Left Behind.”
“It was a great opportunity to be able to work with her,” says Root. “We have been able to do readings and things like that for films, but never in front of a camera. It was tremendous to be able to work together – I think the first day that we worked, was just the two of us and the director and the crew. It was a joy.”
In fact, it was his wife who provided the hook-up, reveals Root: “Romy had went to Northwestern with one of the executive producers [Jeff Pinkner] and we were actually at a party and talking to him. They were saying, ‘Would Stephen be interested in doing a “Fringe?”’ And Romy popped up ‘Well, yes – If you invite ME.’ And strangely enough, Mr. Pinkner a while later said, “Yes, please. Come on and do the show.” We were just more than thrilled to be able to work with each other and come on a quality program.
As to exactly what the couple will be doing on the episode, Root says he can’t reveal much “or they’ll kill me. But I can tell you that they’re a husband and wife that are both scientists and have something going on in this universe, not the other one. We actually didn’t get to work with a lot of the cast. It was mainly us and Josh [Jackson]. Anna [Torv] we saw a little bit. It was kind of an insular episode for us, which was good in that there was limited involvement. It’s kind of a stand-alone thing. It was a nice little arc to play. I really appreciated the chance to do it, especially with my wife.”
“I think to play husband and wife and be real husband and wife, it’s easier to emotionally connect quickly to a big emotional place, since we’re actual husband and wife,” adds Root. “You don’t have a lot of time on television to do that usually. There is not a lot of rehearsal time. Us knowing each other so well, probably knowing where the other person is going to go emotionally, was a help.”
And the actor says he got a kick out of taking part in a sci-fi-driven show. “I’ve been a sci-fi guy from way back, including comics in the 60s and sci-fi from the time I was 13 years old. It’s always fascinated me, whether we’re in a situation where, “Are there multiple universes? Is it possible to travel back through time?” That kind of stuff has always fascinated me. I’m happy to be addressing it a little bit in this show.”
It’s been a while since he’s played in the genre – all the way back to “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” he recalls. “Back in the beginning of the 90s when I was doing a lot of guest star stuff, it was fun doing a Klingon because I could actually use my Shakespeare training to talk over the dentures. That was interesting.”
"Fringe" airs Friday nights at 9 PM ET on FOX