Evelyne Brochu and Jordan Gavaris talk about playing queer characters on “Orphan Black”

 
 

Jordan Gavaris, who plays Felix, shook my hand and smiled brightly when we met. Even though I’ve watched a hundred interviews with him, it was still a tiny shock when his voice was not Felix’s (except for a moment when he was impersonating Felix).

"Orphan Black" Premiere

AfterEllen.com: I saw in the previews that Felix gets to interact a little bit with Cosima this season, what is their relationship like?

Jordan Gavaris: I think that Felix is a little bit distrustful of Cosima, or he was, rather, in Season 1. I think that it’s an interesting bond, it’s probably the first clone that he gets to interact with where we didn’t have—you know, because it’s been mostly Sarah and Alison and they have very established dynamics—Cosima…she’s like the girl he’d meet out at a club and she’d say, “Yo, cool pants” and he’d be like [Felix voice], “Well, cool dreads,” and that would start a bit of a conversation. It’s very platonic. I think he grows a little closer to her as the season progresses, but I think still the mainstay in the clone/Felix relationship is Alison and Sarah.

AE: I see in the comments and on Twitter that the Clonesbians love Felix, do you get a lot of that kind of feedback from the LGBT community in general?

JG: Huge, huge feedback from the LGBT community. I think because Tat and I try to change the vernacular when we’re doing press, because far too often—I was doing a show the other day and it’s, “Oh we have Jordan who plays the ‘gay brother’ on Orphan Black,” and I’m thinking, OK, well….I use it as an an opportunity to create discussion and say, “As a person in the media, you have a responsibility to change the vernacular, to shift the paradigm. Whether they like to believe it or not, that kind of speech where you debase and define a character by their sexuality only and invalidate the rest of their identity is oppressive. Even if they’re a fictional person, it is still very oppressive. And it’s, again — we don’t feel a responsibility to the LGBT community, we feel a joy, a great joy in getting to represent them, and play characters that people are connecting with. Even these fictional characters, however fictional they may be, the fact that there’s resonance there is very, very powerful to us, it’s not lost on us at all.

AE: Especially as a 20-something member of the LGBT community, it’s great to see queer characters my age.

JG: Totally! We also come from a country where—it’s very strange to me. I live in Los Angeles right now, and even though LA is a bubble, the civil rights movement is very much something we’re exposed to–it’s strange because to me, coming from Canada, where the paradigm has already shifted, where you can be a man who is gay or you can be a man who is an artist and who is gay, and not a gay man. And that’s really important, because at the end of the day, as actors, Tat and I feel, you know, we’re not going into it playing sexuality any more than we would play a skin color, eye color, or cancer. It’s just human, we’re just playing human.

Be sure to tune in Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America for brand new episodes of Orphan Black and see these two work their magic.

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