Dollhouse: Fran Kranz Talks Topher

Get our Q&A with Fran Kranz about Dollhouse

By Drusilla Moorhouse Apr 24, 2009 4:28 PMTags
Dollhouse, Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran KranzGreg Gayne/FOX

Fran Kranz's Topher is the mad genius behind the Dollhouse (well along with Joss Whedon, obviously), so in honor of tonight's new Dollhouse ep, we chatted with him to find out where he's been and where he's going, and what that means for the denizens of the Los Angeles Dollhouse.

Read on to find out what Topher has in store for us and what kind of intimate relationship he's got going on with Olivia Williams' Adele and Amy Acker's Dr. Saunders...

Is the Dollhouse good or bad?
We see different shades of that. Ultimately we agree it's bad, right? It's human trafficking. It's a place where people go to escape pain that seemed insurmountable; it provides a service, whatever the case may be. In terms of Topher, is he good or bad? That's sort of irrelevant. He's as much a computer as the computers he works with.

What would you like to learn about Topher in season two?
I'd like to see the backstory of Topher, before the Dollhouse. I see him as a lonely person who couldn't relate to anyone, and I think the Dollhouse gave his life some sense. His own intellect was so out of control he couldn't get along with parents or friends, but then he found something he could challenge and control on his level. He's like an adolescent, like an infant. I'd like to see what happens next.

Do you feel that Topher is likable?
He's an annoying, cocky, nerdy kid. Those aren't appealing qualities. I wouldn't be playing the character right if I was trying to make him all cool and suave and humble at the appropriate times. He's not. He's not that kid; he's a total jerk. He has an ownership over the place the same way it does over him.

Where does Topher fit into the hierarchy?
The Dollhouse in L.A. is the nicest, but there are lots of Dollhouses, so you can infer that the L.A. Dollhouse is the original. Topher is as much a part of creating these things as Adele and the Rossum Corp. Once you write this technology down, the next guy can go do it, but Topher's the innovative guy behind all this—or at least the technician who can crank the wheels. 

What's Topher's relationship with Ivy?
Ivy (Liza Lapira) and I are buddies. I think one other question is Dr. Saunders and Topher. I wouldn't count on anything romantic coming near Topher for a long time. But there's an interesting relationship with Dr. Saunders. 

What's your feeling about the Topher-Adele relationship?
Adele (Olivia Williams) has a natural sort of maternal instinct toward Topher. And Topher is essentially an adolescent. He never got a chance to grow up in the real world because he's just too damn smart, just too in his own head. But now he's getting a chance to sort of grow up and socialize and actually have to be a person and polite to people, and I think he's usually an annoying little jerk. And Adele's the one person he can feel the obedience with. I think there's a natural sort of mother-son thing going on.

Do you think Topher is evil or awesome? Post in the comments!

Get full episodes of Dollhouse at Fancast.