ORPHAN BLACK Scoop: Tatiana Maslany Interview

In season 1 of ORPHAN BLACK, the show blew minds with its introduction of the sister clones Sarah, Beth, Cosima, Alison, and Helena — all brilliant portrayed by Tatiana Maslany.  Then in Season 2, ORPHAN BLACK cranked up the tension by introducing Rachel (also portrayed by Tatiana Maslany) as the tug-of-war for the sister clones continued.  But in the Season 2 finale, the show unveiled an even deeper level of conspiracy and conflicting loyalties as it introduce the Castor clones.  It made sense that if the government was playing god by creating female clones that it would dabble in creating a line of male clones too.  But the question is:  why?  Just what is behind the vicious battle for control of the clones by Project Castro, Project Leda, Topside, Dyad and the Proletheans.

In a press call, star Tatiana Maslany provided some insight as to what challenges and answers about all the clones that Season 3 of ORPHAN BLACK will offer.

After last season, how is Sarah’s relationship with Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Paul (Dylan Bruce)? Can things ever go back to how they were after they betrayed her?
TATIANA: I think what Mrs. S and Paul did to Helena definitely changed the game in terms of who Sarah can trust. I think Paul was always somebody that Sarah was weary of and, at this point, he’s really kind of sealed the deal on how she feels about him. But Mrs. S offers definitely a more complicated thing because I think Sarah had really started to take on this idea of Mrs. S being her mother, being part of her family and being somebody she could trust and this betrayal is so enormous and that it sort of forces Sarah into some of the most difficult decisions she’s had to make so far on the series.

Now that Donnie (Kristian Bruun) knows about the clones, is Alison and Donnie’s marriage the strongest romantic relationship at least to the beginning of the season?
TATIANA:  I think Alison and Donnie we definitely have seen them kind of come together by the end of Season 2 and there’s a sense of like understanding why the two of them get each other and why they work and we’d only ever seen them sort of in conflict before this, so it’s really nice to kind of get to explore their romantic sort of feelings towards each other and the sort of sense of being a team. Yes, and we definitely get to see that a lot more in Season 3.

Since Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) is kind of becoming the new “Rachel,” in doing a lot of her duties, what does that mean for that relationship between Delphine and Cosima?
TATIANA: I think Delphine and Cosima have always sort of been on the opposite sides of the equation in terms of Delphine really being her monitor and sort of having to pull the wool over Cosima’s eyes a little bit. But Cosima yet continually trusts Delphine and continues to love her and sort of romanticize what they could be in and I think the two of them really could love to just be able to be together.  But, unfortunately, Delphine has to cover herself and Cosima has to protect her sister, so they sort of end up being again on opposite sides of the equation. And it’s an interesting season for the two of them. I won’t say too much about what happens, but it’s definitely a lot of conflict.

Any chance we might see Tony (Tatiana Maslany) again? And what would you like to see him kind of get embroiled in if he does come back?
TATIANA: I won’t spoil too much. But Tony was an awesome kind of addition to our X version of identity in Season 2 and I think I would just like to see him and Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and sort of continue to explore what that relationship could be and to get more back story on who Tony is. I think there’s a lot to mind there and I think we barely scratch the surface.

Did you have any good advice for Ari Millen about playing multiple characters for this season?
TATIANA: We definitely talked about the sort of the challenge of it and Ari is like an amazing actor and definitely had his own take and his own process in terms of what it was for him. But I think when you’re facing something like this, it’s always nice to kind of have somebody as an ally and we definitely have kind of an open discussion going any time that there was something that came up.  But when I saw his first clone scene, I saw a rough cut of it, and it was unbelievable. His understanding of the sort of technical side of it while still being able to be present and be relaxed and just not make it about just the technical was really — I was amazed by it and he was kind of a natural at it. So it’s very cool to watch somebody else go through the same process that I did.

Does it take the pressure off of you?  After watching the first two episodes, it looks like you are just on screen just as much in various ways as ever.
TATIANA: Yes. There definitely is a shift towards the Castor clones that we get to kind of explore them a little bit more. And they did take a little bit of the brunt of the work off of my shoulders. But there’s also just like a lot of cool guest stars and supporting cast who we’ve seen throughout the season’s kind of taking on a bigger role this season. And we get to see Paul expanded. We get to see Mrs. S expanded and Donnie expanded. So there’s a lot of  divvying up of the responsibility, definitely, of carrying the storyline.

Because you play so many different characters, do you feel like you get a heads up on what’s coming up or do you still kind of learn when you read the script?
TATIANA: Yes, there’s a lot that I learned when I read the script which is nice for me because I can’t keep too much plot in my head. It doesn’t compute for me really. So it’s nice to kind of be in the dark a little bit. But John and Graeme, the creators of the show, have always kept an open door policy in terms of what’s going on and where we’re headed and have asked for my input and asked for my ideas about the characters and about new characters. And so it’s a really collaborative thing, and thus, I don’t think that every TV show can kind of say that. And it’s a really unique position to be in as the lead actors to have that kind of say. I really appreciate it.

It probably gets really complex with you playing multiple clones trying to film a scene with more than one clone in it, but now that Ari is in the mix with multiple clones as well, has it increased the complexity and the time of filming some of these scenes?
TATIANA: Yes. I mean, I think what we tend to do on the show is that as soon as we get comfortable as one way of doing something, we sort of try to screw ourselves up a little bit. You know, we sort of like to push the boundaries of what we’re able to do and the limits of those clone scenes. So you’ll definitely see more complex clone work this season and that’s just because we’re getting more comfortable with the technology and we’re excited by getting to sort of further complicate things.  And John Fawcett, who’s the showrunner of our series, he’s like, crazy about adding new challenges to those things and making them more difficult and it’s really fun. We never sort of get used to them. I mean, we get used to what we’ve done in them already. But then we add things like pouring wine or five clones in a scene or whatever, like it’s really just want to kind of make it more interesting for ourselves and for the audience.

Do you think there would ever be a chance of a sort of along the lines of the dance party that say a multi-clone fight scene between Leda and Castor clones?
TATIANA: Yes, that would be super fun. I mean, I won’t spoil anythingm but I’ll just say there’s some very cool clone scenes coming up. Definitely.

Obviously Rachel had such an important Season 2 finale in terms of her getting to meet Duncan (Andrew Gillies). Was that for you a really important episode for her in particular and kind of showing when she was mentally and what about any of the scenes were your favorite?
TATIANA: Yes. It’s always cool to kind of take a character that has been sort of seen in one way and get to expand them in a different direction. Rachel has always been sort of buttoned up and sort of aloof and difficult to access emotionally. So its fun to get to push her in a new direction and let her kind of scenes unravel, but that kind of austere facade crumble a bit.  And I think a lot of these clones are dealing with identity and I think family has a lot to do with identity. So any time we get a little glimpse into the back story of any of them or learn something that we didn’t know about them, it’s always exciting and see them sort of be shaken up by it, especially somebody like Rachel who is so buttoned up and so together, seemingly together and seemingly untouched by any kind of pain or any kind of fears or insecurity.

Do you have a favorite scene?
TATIANA: There’s so many. I mean, it’s hard to pick one. But Helena’s slow dance with Jesse (Patrick J. Adams) in the bar was really nice. It’s a totally different thing for Helena to get to do. You know, Alison in Season 1 getting to sort of rip up everybody who’s been judging her in her community and sort of have her big blow up was really fun. And that scene between Sarah and Cosima in Season 2, it’s in the finale, it was just a really fun scene for Kathryn [Alexandre] and I to do together. She’s my clone double. She’s so incredible. And to get to just like not have to act to the tennis ball and get to act with it is really an actress who gives me so much.  She and I have a real sisterhood between the two of us. So to get to just say those lines together and explore those characters together in this kind of intimate, quiet moment that Sarah never gets and that Cosima sort of gives her and allows her to have was really beautiful and really fun for us to do.

Jordan Gavaris mentioned that Felix gets to develop a friendship with Cosima in the upcoming season. Can you talk a little bit about approaching their friendship from that clone and how that develops?
TATIANA: The two of them had sort of been a little bit at odd for some reason and not because of any kind of overt thing but I know Jordan was just like, “I don’t think Felix trusts Cosima,” and I’m like, “All right, that’s interesting.”  And so we got to kind of explore a more slow burn sort of relationship between the two of them and they have so much in common in terms of sort of, I don’t know, just a shared experience in terms of being lonely and sort of a heartache in the two of them.  And so we really get to kind of see that a little bit at season end. And Cosima sort of entrust on Felix because she’s living at his place and he kind of can’t get rid of her. So another kind of unlikely coming together of two people. Felix seems to have those kind of unlikely friendships with the clones Alison and him kind of came together even though they sort of despise each other. They’re sort of like an interesting two sides of the same coin in that relationship.

As the stakes keep raising each season, besides Dyad and Topside and Castor, what are the other threads this season?
TATIANA: There’s loads of threads. There’s so many threads that I don’t even remember all the threads. There’s a lot. It’s a huge season. It’s an absolutely enormous season. So the mystery continues to unravel. And like in seasons past as soon as you get a little bit of a clue into what’s happening, the rug gets pulled out from under you and you have 1000 more questions. So it’s going to continue to be a mystery.

What was your reaction when you learned that there were the male clones of Project Castor coming into the mix and how have they affect the whole mythology of the show and the universe?
TATIANA:  I was really excited about the prospects of it because I think Ari is such a strong actor. And I think what they offer us is another exploration of nature nurture a different one, a different perspective, a different kind of experiment and the Leda clones were raised in disparate circumstances, separate from each other.  And so for them to discover each other is kind of their journey and she come to terms with the fact that their clones is their journey but the Castor clones were raised self, what is it, self-aware and sort of in the unit. So there’s a very different experience that they bring to the kind of question.

There are so many great moments of humor and great little lines over the last two seasons. Is there more of that coming?
TATIANA: Yes. Oh for sure. I mean,  any time you have Felix in a scene, you’re going to get some amazing one-liners and Donnie, too Kristian is such an amazing improviser and has kind of like created this hilarious character and gives me so much to work opposite when it’s Alison and Donnie. So yes, there’s definitely hijinx. There’s hijinx afoot.

Kira has always kind of been handled as being special, as being different or whatnot, and it almost looks like she’s going to be set up to have a bigger role in the season. Can you comment on that in any way?
TATIANA: Kira, definitely, she’s sort of been like such a driving force in Sarah’s world and that the stakes of her relationship with Sarah continues to be a big driving force and that Sarah, unfortunately, has to make quite some really difficult decisions this season and those will affect Kira and we’ll see this unit be compromised, this family unit be compromised. So I won’t say, too, too much about it but that’s sort of a little spoiler.

There are some great guest actors that are coming on the season:  James Frain, Justin Chatwin. Can you tell us what those like having them on the show?
TATIANA: Totally awesome. I mean, I won’t say, too, too much about the characters but they are definitely awesome characters. James was such a blast to work with. He’s such a compelling actor and kind of has this darkness to him that’s so fun to play opposite.  And Justin, too, is hilarious and offered like a real great comedy to the series. And I mean, we’re really lucky and sort of honored that these people want to come and do the show with us and our fans of the show and take time out of their schedule to come and play.

Is it fun when you read a script and you see that you’re playing a character playing a character like the interrogation scene in the first episode of the season or do you kind of like swamp shoulders and like try to figure out how you’re going to dig in to something like that?
TATIANA: I don’t do a lot of figuring out.  I love those scenes so much and they’re such a confusing, disorienting sort of experience. But I love them. They’re so much fun to play. I always feel a little bit out to sea, not out to lunch. A little out to lunch as well. But a little bit out to sea like there’s a lot of room for kind of mistakes and a lot of freedom to play and a lot of room to kind of experiment with the sides of things and how bad somebody’s impersonation of someone else is or how great it is or who’s a good actor and who’s not. It’s really fun. And play with how the clones see each other, what Alison’s version of Sarah is versus what Sarah’s version of Alison is or Rachel is. It’s really fun.

The rest of the cast has experienced being fixed points while you transform from character to character. How was it for you just, as an actor, to now get your experience out with Ari Millen?
TATIANA: It’s great. It’s awesome to watch the process from the outside. And Ari has a totally different way of going about it than I do and that’s exciting to see because it’s such a unique challenge. It’s such a cool kind of uncharted territory thing it’s not really a common thing to get to play so many characters on a series. So, yes. I’m just really happy that we got him and that he was willing to take on the challenge.

The show runners have expressed interest in doing a flashback into Beth’s life. So what aspects of that would you be most interested in exploring or playing?
TATIANA: There’s a lot to her that is unknown and sort of has been hinted at but I think she was going through a lot of turmoil and pain and I’d love to kind of get to the root of that, what that is and her relationship with Paul, her relationship with Art (Kevin Hanchard). I mean, there’s so many things there to mind and to go into.  I would love to do that. I think that’s so cool that they said that.

Did you discover any new acting challenges with your respective roles this season and how do you feel perhaps further grew and developed as an actress overall this season on the show?
TATIANA: I’m so lucky to get to have this challenge of playing multiple characters and sort of revisiting them every season and growing them and the writers are amazing. They constantly kind of expand the characters and give me more to play with and more to explore. So I feel really challenged every season.  And I think just you can’t help but kind of change as an actor as you grow and as you learn more and as you get to work opposite often people like James Frain. And it’s every day is like a learning experience for me. So it’s hard to even kind of pinpoint what it is that I learned exactly. But I know that I’ve learned so much in terms of what it takes to lead a series and the kind of stamina that it requires to play these many characters.

We are looking forward to seeing more of your characters’ interaction with Art this season. Anything you could speak about that relationship coming up?
TATIANA: Art has always kind of been this moral center of the show and has sort of fought for the sisters for some reason and we’ve never really understood why and we get a lot more insight into him this season. And I was so happy for that because I think  Kevin has been an actor that I’ve watched for years before I got to work with him on the series. I’m a huge fan of his work in theater and he is such an amazing, amazing actor. I watched him play Martin Luther King this last year because he played him in two separate performances of the mountain top of this play. He’s just so incredible. And we’re really lucky to have him and it’s great to get to mind his talent and expand that beautiful character that is Art.

To meet the Castor clones and how they figure into the unfolding story of Dyad and the sister clones, be sure to tune in for the Season 3 premiere of ORPHAN BLACK on April 18th at 9:00 pm on BBC America.  (For those who may not receive BBC America, the ORPHAN BLACK Season 3 premiere will also air simultaneously on AMC, IFC, WE TV and Sundance Channel.)

To hear what Jordan Gavaris, Evelyne Brochu, Kristian Bruun, Dylan Bruce, Maria Doyle Kennedy and executive producer Graeme Manson had to share about Season 3, be sure to check-out our video interviews with them at WonderCon 2015:

Photo Credit : Genevieve Collins