'FlashForward' looks ahead

LOS ANGELES — ABC launched "FlashForward" in September to generally good reviews and ratings. Then, after only 10 episodes, it was pulled and has been off the air for more than three months. The series returns to the ABC schedule with a two-hour special Thursday  beginning at 7 p.m.

If you've forgotten (or never watched) "FlashForward," it deals with an incident that caused everyone on the planet to black out for 137 seconds. They awoke with a glimpse of what their future would be on April 29. This next batch of shows will delve into the mystery behind the blackout and there will be another flash forward.

Before "FlashForward," Joseph Fiennes worked in the very structured worlds of movies and theater. Whether it was the period film "Shakespeare in Love" or the quirky modern day "Running With Scissors," the British actor knew the beginning, middle and end of the character.

In most television series there's only the present. But "FlashForward" offers a different challenge for actors because all of the characters have been given what they believe are glimpses into their futures. The actors must decide whether to use the glimpses to play their characters or just treat each episode as it blindly unfolds.

That acting dilemma has been a challenge to Fiennes in playing Mark Benford, the FBI agent who's leading the investigation into the show's time-glimpsing mystery.


"This is the first job where I haven't been fully cognizant of the role. That has been taken away so you rely on the writers and hope they piece it together. You hope that what I have done is justified several episodes down the line even though I might not know what the outcome will be," Fiennes says during an interview on the set of the show. "Sometimes it can be frustrating and sometimes you just have to let go."

Fiennes has had adjust his acting style to fit the uniquely designed show. He's learned to be more willing to improvise, accept contradictions in his character and adjust to last-second changes.

"FlashForward" operates on the principle that to a certain degree everyone is predestined. Fiennes believes that everyone is predisposed genetically to a certain path and it's just anomalies along the way that make people different.

Fiennes knows enough about future episodes to say many of the mysteries from the first flash forward will be addressed.

"Hopefully it will satisfy everyone. But, at the same time, there will be something else afoot," Fiennes says.

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