Jared Harris will reveal the mystery behind Fringe's Mr. Jones

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Mr. Jones is back on Fringe, but Jared Harris, who plays the enigmatic character, said it remains to be seen whether he'll return again after tonight's episode, "Ability." (Spoilers ahead!)

"He's not a recurring character," Harris said in an interview. "I'm not signed up to a recurring contract. So he's a one-off ..."

Who keeps recurring?

"Well, it's sort of the way they do it now," Harris said. "What I was told when I signed on was he was obviously, possibly a major, important character, because the title of the episode was 'In Which We Meet Mr. Jones.' Whether or not he appeared again was going to be based on how well the character played with the audience, whether I did a good enough job with it, and if they needed him in terms of getting where they wanted to go, but of course they didn't tell me where that was."

SCI FI Wire recently spoke to Harris—son of the late Richard Harris and an actor whose genre credits include Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Lady in the Water—about Fringe and also his role as Captain Mike in the Oscar-nominated drama-fantasy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Following are edited excerpts from that interview. "Ability" premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Give us your best preview of "Ability."

Harris: They're really tight-lipped about what you can say, what you can give away. All I'll say is it's a page-turner of an episode. When I read it, I said, "Ah, this is a fantastic one. I can't wait to see it." It's directed with a lot of energy, a lot of tension. It's a good one, a really good one.

One theory out there is that Mr. Jones was Walter's (John Noble) old partner, William Bell, and a major player in the development of Massive Dynamic. Care to comment?

Harris: It's funny, because we sit in the cafeteria and play the what-if game and try to guess where they might go with it. They tell us nothing, absolutely nothing. I might turn out to be a hologram or something. I have no idea. I have really no clue where they're going, and they don't tell us. There are lots of theories bounding around. He's certainly a few steps ahead of where everything is. I would doubt that anyone is more steps ahead of Walter, but Walter doesn't remember. He has amnesia. But Walter seems to be crucial to this whole thing. But nobody knows. They haven't told me. I can't give anything away, because they haven't told me.

But what about the whole William Bell question?

Harris: That never occurred to me, and I would have thought that if that was the case, ... . I was about to give something away. I guess I can't do that. I guess that will be answered in this new episode. That theory will be given an answer.

OK, let's put it this way. If this or a subsequent episode were your last episode ever—and, yes, dead doesn't mean dead on Fringe—what do you personally want to know about Mr. Jones?

Harris: There's lots of questions I sit there and hope will get resolved. What is his relationship or fascination with Olivia [Anna Torv]? There seems to be some connection there. He is aware, definitely aware, of Walter Bishop, without question. He seems to be tied into some element of whatever this thing is that's going on with the ZFT as well. There's ... I hope I come back. There's too many loose ends, so I hope I come back.

Let's talk about Benjamin Button for a minute. People appear to really like Captain Mike ...

Harris: I have been going to a lot of these award ceremonies and being introduced to people who've just seen the movie. [Director] David Fincher or someone will kindly introduce me to somebody and go, "This is Jared. He was in the movie." They look at me and go, "Oh, you were?" I say, "Yes." They go, "What character did you play?" I say, "I played Captain Mike." They go, "What?! No way!" It's great. I love it. I love the movie. I love the character. I loved doing it. And yet somehow I still managed to be in disguise.