If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that I am a little obsessed with the BBC America show Orphan Black, a unique sci-fi show about women who discover that they are the subjects of a top-secret, illegal, cloning experiment. It’s smart, funny, action-packed, and laced with mystery. The first piece I wrote about the show was a list of reasons you should be watching Orphan Black. In it, I listed the lead actress Tatiana Maslany as the number one reason to watch, because week after week, she blows me away with her ability to portray so many different roles so seamlessly. Whether it’s tough-as-nails Sarah, uptight soccer mom Allison, queer science geek Cosima, crazy Helena, or any of the other subjects that appear, each clone she plays has a very distinct attitude, accent, and even posture. The nuances give each role a totally different feel, and while watching an episode, it’s easy to forget that they’re all played by the same person.
All photos courtesy of BBC America
I recently chatted (via email) with Tatiana about the clones she plays and her thoughts on the relationship between Cosima and Delphine. She’s definitely going on my AfterEllen Hot 100 list this year!
AfterEllen.com: Orphan Black is such a unique concept. What about the show most made you want to be part of it?
Tatiana Maslany: The characters are what immediately drew me to the project. I was just so captivated by them — because of their humanity. Because they weren’t “good” people. It was awesome to read Sarah — a female lead with such complexity, with such flaws — who wasn’t defined by her gender, but, rather, the way she survives. And, of course, the challenge of playing multiple characters was like a dream come true.
AE: Do you have a favorite clone to play? Or is that like asking a parent which is their favorite kid?
TM: That’s totally it — like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid. I can’t choose. I love them all. They’re all so well-written, so vivid and uniquely voiced on the page, and it’s an absolute dream to get to stretch myself as an actor like this.
AE: On a similar note, do you have more in common with one clone than the rest?
TM: Each of the clones has some aspect of me in them. I tried to find some piece of me that I could relate to with each clone, and then elaborated and expanded on that initial seed. Sarah’s maternal drive — her sort of “male-ness,” Alison’s anxiety and control issues, Cosima’s love and fascination with people and the world around her, Helena’s obsessive love and her inability to express herself. I spent the most time with Sarah, so there’s a large part of me that is in her, or vice-versa. I feel like people have all kinds of people inside them, and as an actor, I try to understand what drives people, recognize it in myself, “beautiful” things, “ugly” things, that’s the joy of playing a character.
AE: Since a new clone could appear any time, is there any type of personality you’re hoping shows up? Also, is there any accent you CAN’T do flawlessly? Because, so far, you’re nailing it.
TM: Ha ha! I don’t know that I’m flawless at any of the accents, but that’s cool of you to say. The accents are terrifying and exciting, because they can go so wrong. There’s a lot of room for mistakes. I’m trying to let go of making them “perfect” and focus more on making the character’s voice distinct. As far as a new clone goes, I’m kind of up for anything. I’d rather be surprised and look at a script and go, “AHH! I don’t know if I can do this??!!!”
AE: Do you think Cosima identifies as gay or bisexual? Did you know she would be getting a lady love interest from the get-go?
TM: John and Graeme had mentioned to me early on that Cosima was bisexual, and I could feel it in the writing even when it wasn’t explicit. I feel like she identifies as bisexual, and very much understands her sexuality as a spectrum from a scientific viewpoint. I think Cosima just loves people. I think she feels love for a lot of different kinds of people. I feel really lucky to get to work with Evelyne (Delphine). I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time, way before we started filming, it was very easy to fall for her.
Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and Cosima (Tatiana Maslany)
AE: From what I’ve seen on Twitter and Tumblr, fans are really taking to Cosima and Delphine as an item. In your opinion, is Cosima falling for Delphine even though she’s suspicious of her, or is it all just an act?
TM: I feel like Cosima has always been a very driven, focused woman — spent much of her time on her intellect and her studies, and I think she is kind of surprised by her feelings for Delphine. It’s the kind of attraction, and need, that blinds her. I very much related to the feeling of walking into something that didn’t feel safe, but being unable to be smart. Her attraction and feelings are undeniable to her, even though it might be dangerous. Cosima is incredibly intelligent, understands how the world works to such a fine degree, calls people’s bullshit easily, so it was really interesting for me to play with the idea of someone like that doing something illogical, motivated by a sort of animal instinct, doing something that could be deemed stupid.
AE: If you found yourself face-to-face with your clone in real life, what do you think your reaction would be?
TM: AHHHHH!!! WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?
AE: Can you tell us anything about what we can look forward to seeing in Season 2?
TM: I know nothing! Ha ha! The writer’s room just started a couple of days ago, so I’m going to pop in there soon and try to get in on some of the action coming up. I know Jordan (Felix) said he’s gonna do some baking and visit the writers, and he’s a ridiculous cook so I’ll try to coordinate so I can be there when the brownies are there.
To see Tatiana in action, tune into Orphan Black Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America.