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JOSHUA JACKSON has his biggest hit since Dawson’s Creek with Fox’s slick sci-fi show Fringe.

[dl] Television/Gaming

Joshua Jackson is perhaps best known as hockey hotshot Charlie Conway in The Mighty Ducks movie franchise or as the lovable, dashing Pacey Witter from the seminal 1990s teen TV drama Dawson’s Creek. But Jackson actually has a hefty horror and sci-fi résumé under his belt, having starred in such scarefest flicks as Scream 2, Urban Legend, and Cursed. He even appeared on an episode of the long-running TV program The Outer Limits.

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That pension for tension is something he’s putting to good use these days with his role as a paranormal investigator on the Fox hit Fringe. The laid-back Jackson channels his inner tough guy as the brilliant but troubled Peter Bishop, who, along with his eccentric father, Walter, and special FBI agent Olivia Dunham, is trying to help Homeland Security figure out the meaning behind a series of bizarre global events collectively known as “the Pattern.” For Jackson, a lifelong sci-fi aficionado and a big fan of The X-Files (to which Fringe is often compared), working on the show has been a blast.

“I think we still have the highest of hopes, while we’re growing the show and trying to broaden the mythology and the story, to one day have it be respected at the upper echelons of science fiction,” Jackson says. “But I still think we have a long way to go until we get there. There’s a constant struggle to make sure that we don’t pander to the audience. … I think the audience for this show is intelligent enough to follow anything that we can throw at them.”

Fringe cocreator and producer J.J. Abrams is famous for throwing his audiences for a loop and taking them to places that are out of this world yet still on Earth. It’s a talent he’s demonstrated often in his other megahit shows Lost and Alias, and Fringe has proven to be no different. Jackson revels in that.

“I like being transported by the things that I watch,” he says. “I like being taken into a world that is either a parable or a flight of fancy. I don’t mind the hero being against all odds.”

The other hero on the show is the beautiful and talented up-and-comer Anna Torv, who’s turning heads with her pitch-perfect portrayal of Agent Olivia Dunham. Ambitious and a loner, Dunham has survived many hardships and is determined to seek justice.

“I call her the Terminatrix,” Jackson says of Dunham. “She’s the bionic woman. You cannot keep her down. That’s awesome. There are Navy SEALs who would be envious of the things that Olivia or [Alias’] Sydney Bristow can pull off.”

While Peter and Dunham are like brother and sister, it’s becoming evident that Dunham and Walter are keeping something from Peter. “Walter definitely knows, and Olivia has an inkling, that Peter’s not one of us,” Jackson explains. “Going forward this year, he’s getting more and more involved and invested, and he’s becoming more engaged and open to his father. He’s becoming more of a viable partner to Olivia. What that’s inevitably leading to is the betrayal that he’s going to feel when he finds out that not only is he not from this side but also that the two people he holds closest have been lying to him.”

Sounds like a heavy dose of drama. Jackson’s got plenty of experience with that, too, thanks to his six seasons on the teenage-angst-filled Creek. With a 1990s revival currently in full effect — 90210 and Melrose Place are back on the air, Alice in Chains’ latest album hit number five on the Billboard charts, and Lilith Fair returns this year — fans might wonder whether a Creek reboot is on the way. If that were to come about, would Jackson be onboard?

“We can’t do a reunion show with the original cast because we killed Michelle [Williams’s character],” he says. “But would I ever? Why not?”