'Orphan Black' star Jordan Gavaris talks season 3
It’s not easy to steal scenes when you are appearing opposite the Greatest Actress in the World (a.k.a. Tatiana Maslany), but somehow Jordan Gavaris manages to do it as Sarah’s flamboyant brother Felix. He has become a fan favorite as the often-pantless painter with the coolest loft on TV. We sat down with Gavaris recently on set of Orphan Black while filming the final episode of season 3 (which will kick off on BBC America on April 18). Here’s what he had to say about Felix in season 3, including a new connection with…Cosima?
EW: First off, congratulations on your recent win at the Canadian Screen Awards.
JORDAN GAVARIS: Thank you. It was wild because not even for a second did I think that I was going to win. I didn’t write a speech, I didn’t wear my best suit—that’s a lie, I did wear my best suit. [Laughs]
Let’s start with Felix’s relationship with Sarah. It got a bit bumpy there for a bit in season 2 before it straightened out. How are things with them now in season 3?
Well, people have seen the trailer, so they probably know that S and Sarah have a bit of a problem, and that’s because S made a very big decision that does impact Sarah. I don’t want to give too much away but I think there’s going to be some friction between the two of them. This time, Felix acts more as a go-between—as a bridge between S and Sarah.
It was so interesting for me to play that dynamic because it had never occurred to me just how important Felix’s family was to him. And that yes, he’s a survivor. Yes, he is independent. Yes, he’s self-assured. Yes, he’s all of those things. But at the same time, he is those things because he still has this unit, and if the unit fractures then it was incredible to watch what would happen to my body in scenes. It’s almost like the child of divorced parents—you start to be the good one trying to keep everything together and make sure everything’s okay. It was just a wild new dynamic that I hadn’t ever explored because there had never really been that kind of tension between S and Sarah before. I think it’s safe to say Felix is a bit frustrated with both of them, but he’s desperately trying to keep things together because if he loses that, if the family really falls apart, he’s got nothing.
What can you say about Felix and Alison in season 3, because those two have become quite the pair?
We definitely see them together. They have some fun—there are a couple of trials. I think this season in particular probably has a little bit less Felix and Alison, just because Alison and Donnie have become this like, wild Bonnie and Clyde, crazy crime duo murdering people in the suburbs. I also love how psychotic the suburban couple is—like, compared to everybody else, they’re the most psychotic. They do the most horrible things.
I think we probably get a little bit less than normal, but I think what’s great about that is that we do get Felix and Alison, we also get Felix and Cosima, which has been a dynamic we haven’t explored yet. It was interesting: We were shooting a scene just the two of them and it hit me that there’s so much they have in common—not just because of their sexuality, but because they’re lonely. Cosima, even when she was with Delphine, she’s kind of insular—she’s the brilliant one of the group. She understands the science. She’s probably the most self aware of any of the sisters and that can be extremely isolating. And there’s this kind of general heaviness or loneliness that Cosima sort of carries with her. Also being an outsider, being a lesbian—being all of those things that are not the norm, and Felix can relate to that. And it was kind of great to see them be lonely together. Not really find any solace in each other, but just sort of stare off in the same direction.
What about Felix’s love life? Clearly he has had many “visitors” but anyone special on the horizon?
I would love it. I think that this season is so much about Leda and Castor, and it just is so fast. It takes us X number of months to shoot, and it feels like we’re three years ahead, but in actuality, two or three months have gone by. It’s not a very long time in the show’s reality, so I think that this season is so much about getting answers to questions that we haven’t had answered yet from season 1 and 2: Who is Leda? What’s the purpose? Why Leda? Why Castor? Why all of this? And I think that finally we’re going to get a couple of answers that I think is going to kind of satisfy the appetite of the audience. And of course, with the answers come a boatload of questions.
What does Felix make of the whole Project Castor situation?
I mean, I would’ve loved it if he had ended up dating one. [Laughs] I think when we were shooting it, he’s had this shock, this surprise to everything that’s been revealed about Leda and about the sisters and about Dyad. I don’t know if I consciously made the decision or if it was just sort of a, you know, here we are at season 3, we’re already all kind of already exhausted —we’re just starting and we know that there’s a mountain to climb in front of us. So I think it was kind of a, yeah, of course there’s male clones, of course Project Castor exists, of course there’s a yin to the yang —I don’t think he was overly surprised.
I think he’s scared, very scared. And that was something that I just sat in this year, was exhaustion, feeling not really a part of things. Felix is so removed from a lot of the drama that happens between Dyad and the military and Leda and Castor. Sara and S try to protect him from a lot of it. And, I know as a younger sibling, when your older siblings or your parents try to protect you from things—you don’t see it as protection, you feel excluded. So I really tried to work with that this season, this feeling of exclusion and driving the idea home that he really is the youngest member of this family, very much so. He’s still a boy.
How many times are we going to see your butt this year?
I may have to say zero. And I’ve been working so much harder this year than I did even in the two prior seasons. This was the year—there’s a nice scene where I’m changing, but we don’t see my bum. Exploitation!
What’s the vibe like now as you wind down on filming season 3?
It’s sad. I mean, we had our last table read and it was emotional—nobody wanted to get up and leave the table. We sat there—and usually after table reads people are up because either people have got to go back on set, or people are off to another meeting, or they’re just going home to their families—but everyone just sat there for about two and a half minutes. We all just kind of sat and no one wanted to leave the table and nobody really said anything, either. Actually, I said something, of course, because I have a mouth as big as a pelican. I think I said, “I’m having all sorts of feels” [Laughs] But, it’s always a little emotional the last couple of weeks. Whether it’s frustration, or you see the light at the end of the tunnel so you start to get a little bit antsy because you know that the end is coming and you’re ready—we’re ready for it to end this season. It’s been a grueling five months. I mean, the weather up here is not easy to work with. It’s probably our most difficult cast member, actually.
That’s because you’re living in LA now. You’ve gone soft!
I’ve gone soft. My blood’s thin now, it’s way too cold. I will say—I don’t know what this is in Fahrenheit—we had minus thirty degrees Celsius weather up here and we were shooting outdoors for like, 17 hours. So at that point, you’re just trying to stop your lips from chattering while you’re in the scene, and the muscles in your mouth tighten so it’s difficult to speak.
How many layers were you wearing underneath your normal clothes?
Oh, like seven or eight. I had on, like, five pairs of long johns, my pants, warmers, I had loads and loads and loads of thermals on—it was wild. I felt like the Michelin man trying to sit down.
For more ‘Orphan Black’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
In a related video below, the cast of Orphan Black explains everything that has happened on the show in just thirty seconds:
Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.