Tatiana Maslany breaks down the 'Orphan Black' season-finale twist
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s season 2 finale of Orphan Black.]
Tatiana Maslany got to taste both the good and the bad and the maybe in the season 2 finale of Orphan Black. Sarah escaped from the Dyad Institute and was reunited with daughter Kira. (Good.) Rachel watched her father kill himself and then got stabbed in the eye by a pencil-spewing fire extinguisher, while Helena was taken and shipped off an military plane to lord knows where. (Bad.) And Cosima is still sick but might have uncovered some clues to her illness in a book that Professor Duncan gave Kira. (Maybe.) We caught up with Maslany to get her take on these events and more, including that crazy clone dance party (where she had to play four different characters shaking their respective groove thangs), the twist of there also being a group of male clones, and what she knows about next season. (Also make sure to read our season 2 finale Q&A with Orphan Black creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So I know at the end of season 1 a big burden was put on you with all the clone scenes and multiple clone scenes, and when I was on set earlier in the season we talked about how some of that burden had been lifted in season 2. But after watching this finale I was like, did this woman get a break at all? Because you really are in pretty much every scene, and sometimes as more than one character.
TATIANA MASLANY: Yeah, and we had that amazing dance party scene which was pushing the envelope as far as what we could do technically. It took us two days to shoot that, but it was so much fun and so much fun when we finally got to watch it back and see how it had all come together. It was just a total blast.
EW: It was seamless. But how did you come up with the dance moves for everyone?
MASLANY: Like any actor who understands the physicality of their character. And dance for me has always been the thing that has been my key towards differentiating the clones, so it was fairly natural. The one that took the most out of me was definitely Helena.
EW: That woman was getting into it!
MASLANY: She loves a good tune, as you can see. She loves to kick it on the dance floor.
EW: Yet she’s so awkward. It’s like she doesn’t exactly know what to do or how to do it.
MASLANY: No kidding! It’s not like she’s ever actually been to a dance. She didn’t go to high school and have all those obligatory growing pains of going to a dance and learning how to move so she moves from a very animal/baby perspective.
EW: My favorite scenes are the ones where you have the three of Sarah, Cosima, and Alison together, but I know how tricky and time consuming they are, so what is your reaction when you see that you are going to be filming that big get together at Fee’s place? Excitement? Dread? Both?
MASLANY: It’s a big combination for me, but I have to say all those scenes were so awesome. I was so excited to read them because there was nothing about them that was plot driven. They were just the characters, the sisters reunited and meeting Helena for the first time. And that was so much fun to play with as an actor. Regardless of the technical things, when you have that lovely scene work to play it just kind of takes care of itself. And the scene between Cosima and Sarah in bed talking about life and death and science — I got to work with [acting double] Kathryn [Alexandre] on all of those takes and she wasn’t pulled out so I didn’t have to look at an X or whatever, so it was really quite intimate and lovely.
EW: Tell me about playing that scene as Rachel where she has to watch her father kill himself right in front of her. What is she sadder about losing there: her dad, whom she thought she had lost before, or the information he possesses? Or is it a combination of the both?
MASLANY: Yeah, I’d say it’s a combination. I think Rachel can’t help but be single minded as far as her work goes, but at the same time I feel like that scene is about a daughter losing her father. It was about her being back as a kid and not understanding this concept of death, and it really brought her to a place that she’s probably forgotten about and pushed away and it’s probably a great deal of the reason that she is so emotionally closed, because she’s been so hurt and so abandoned. So to get to experience that traumatic moment again was obviously a really interesting thing to play with such a guarded character.
EW: How do you view Rachel? Is she the enemy? Is she to be pitied? I know Orphan Black doesn’t really deal with black and white hats and everyone has a little bit of a grey hat, but how do you view Rachel?
MASLANY: I don’t see her as a villain in any way. I think she doesn’t do kind things necessarily, but her iciness and her coldness has to spring from a place of pain and a place of deep humanity. So, to me, it’s fun to play someone who is so loathed and find compassion for her. It’s funny, because she is so much less compassionate than Helena even though Helena is killing people left, right, and center. Nobody seems to think she’s a bad person because we get these glimpses of her soft side and we sort of root for her. But Rachel seems to really get people pissed off. And I kind of love that. I think that’s so fun. As a viewer, I love whoever is the villain, so those are my favorite people to watch.
EW: I cannot believe that we have to go through another entire year of worry about Cosima’s health. How can you guys do this to us again? It’s brutal!
MASLANY: I know, right. We just want you guys to suffer.
EW: I thought we might get some sort of resolution there, and maybe there are some clues in that Dr. Moreau book, but this is a tough one to swallow.
MASLANY: Yeah, absolutely. I feel the same way..
EW: I guess the alternative could have been worse though, right?
MASLANY: I know! I’m just happy she’s still there.
EW: Okay, what was your reaction when the creators, John Fawcett & Graeme Manson, told you about the twist at the end where we learn there is also a set of male clones out there?
MASLANY: I was so, so, so excited. Ari, who plays Mark and now a bunch of the other guys, has been such an incredible addition to our show, and I think we all were really blown away by his work. He has so much commitment and so much depth and is so compelling to watch on camera. So when they came to me with that idea of having Ari play those characters I was like, “Oh my God! Absolutely! It would be silly not to mine his talent. He is so fantastic.”
EW: Has Ari come to you asking for any advice on how to play all these different characters yet?
MASLANY: We’ve talked about it. I think for him, the technical thing is what is quite scary for him. So he sat in on the dance party sequence to get a sense of it, which is probably the scariest thing he could have sat in on because that was just a nightmare. [Laughs] But he seems really excited about the idea.
EW: I want to go back a few weeks because I know all of you were really looking forward to seeing the reaction from viewers when you introduced Tony the transclone character. Tell me about bringing that character to life and then the response that came in once it aired.
MASLANY: To me, Tony was a really exciting character to bring up. He sort of offered this whole other exploration of gender identity and expression and also he was just an exciting character outside of his gender identification. He was sort of this badass in a new way and had this edge to him and darkness to him that was exciting. And what’s exciting to me is that people have been very polarized about him. To some people he spoke a great deal about their own identity. We had an amazing response from trans guys who have seen themselves in him or are so happy to see themselves on screen. And then there are others that don’t feel that he represents them and don’t feel that’s the way it has to be. We never set up to speak for an entire community or an entire experience, and Tony is definitely his own person and his own experience of what it is to be a human and I just loved him. He was so fun and I hope that we get to see him again in season 3.
EW: Such a daring character for you to play and I think it’s funny how John and Graeme were thinking of adding a trans character, and it turns out you and your hair and makeup team were as well at the same time.
MASLANY: Yeah, and we took a lot of risks visually. And I think where Tony comes from is not necessary a very affluent background or very metropolitan background. He comes from a small town and has that kind of vibe about him, which we didn’t really have with the other clones so it was quite fun.
EW: How much have John & Graeme shared with you about their ideas for season 3 at this point?
MASLANY: A little bit. But I can’t say they’ve given me too much info, which is okay with me because I’m always excited to be surprised by what they come up with. But I think we are going to have a little chat about what’s coming up and I’m just excited to hear what they have in store.
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Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.