We spilled the beans about the brand new Orphan Black clone a few weeks back. We gave you all the details on poor Jennifer Fitzsimmons, including some of her video diaries that show the nasty progression of her illness. Now, star Tatiana Maslany talks about shooting those video diaries and playing what becomes her eighth different character on the show.
“It’s strange because we shot her in pre-production,” says Maslany of Jennifer’s video journal entries. “So we shot her in like a day in pre-production, the first day of shooting basically before the crew was even there. So it was an intense day because we went through her whole illness, from health to sickness, in a succinct amount of time. Of course, to me she is her own person, but I talked with [creators] John and Graeme a lot about how she sheds light on Cosima, and what she woke up in Cosima, and what Cosima is able to see of herself in this girl. In that way, she’s a lot like Katja. She is a facilitator of change in someone else. “
So how does Malsany prepare for playing a new clone, and coming up with new mannerisms and tics to make sure she feels different from the other people she is already playing? “It’s like getting a new character, like doing another film or something,” she told me while relaxing on the steps in Felix’s apartment in between takes of filming for season 2. “You’ve lived since your last project, you’ve changed, and you’ve learned things about the world and yourself and people, and all that informs the manifestation of these new characters. It’s basically just like another part on a show. I approach it that way: backstory, character development. I do kind of go, God, am I ever going to run out of things to do? But so much of the writing just opens something up in me and allows me to play in a different way because of the voice or the situation or the environment that this person grew up in. And that to me is what’s interesting about acting, and why I want to be an actor, and the kind of work I want to do is always new and always a challenge. You see actors all the time pulling out new things: Michael Fassbender does the scariest and bravest thing he can do every time out, but in a new way, and I always feel like I’m seeing some new thing of him. It’s not like the last thing and it’s still shocking. I think that’s the challenge of any actor, really.”
Maslany can talk all she wants about how her challenge is the same challenge of any other actor creating a new role, but I couldn’t help but point out to her that unlike other actors, she has to play her different characters opposite each other — often in the same scene. That makes it all the more important that each one be completely distinct and drawn out. She eventually conceded that her situation is more unique. “Right, yes, yes. It’s definitely a bizarre situation, but I can’t think about that too much or else it would just become a mannerism show. I can’t be like, oh, this is the way my hands move as this character. I would just be comparing them all the time and that would be a really destructive mindset for me.”
The big questions remains: How many more new clones will she have to do this for in season 2, which premieres April 19 on BBC America. Stay tuned to find out.
For more ‘Orphan Black’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter: