Orphan Black: Tatiana Maslany breaks down the series finale
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the series finale of Orphan Black.
All clone things must come to an end. Thankfully, no clones met their end in the series finale of Orphan Black. Helena had her twins, Alison settled back into suburban bliss with Donnie, Cosima and Delphine set out on a mission to inoculate all 274 Ledas still out there, Sarah finally found peace as both a mother and daughter, and even Rachel was afforded a bit of redemption by providing the sestras with much-needed information to save other Ledas.
It was an emotional climax to a show that wore its heart on its sleeve, never more so than during a dramatic double birth scene that toggled back and forth between Helena’s delivery in the present and Sarah’s in the past. We spoke to Emmy-winning star Tatiana Maslany about the emotions of shooting the final episode as well as saying goodbye to the show as a whole. (Read through both pages for the entire interview, and make sure to also check out our finale interview with the show creators as well as Maslany and the creators talking about a possible Orphan Black movie.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how does it feel for you now that it’s all over?
TATIANA MASLANY: I’m so sad. I’m in denial that it’s done. And we’ve had to say so many goodbyes in terms of on the set saying goodbye to each character, and each clone as we kind of wrapped everybody. And then we had our last Paley Fest, and then we had all these lasts. And now the finale is out. Yeah, it’s still sad, as sad as it was when we got the finale script.
Let’s talk about the double birth scene that goes back and forth between Helena giving birth with Sarah and Art coaching and a flashback to Sarah giving birth to Kira with Mrs. S coaching her through it, because there was a lot of raw emotion in that and I guess you’re acting three different parts coming at it from three different places. Tell me about that experience of what really is the climax of the entire series.
That moment felt so visceral doing it. The Helena-Sarah birth scene was the last day of shooting, so there was a lot going on in terms of the cast and crew feeling very raw and feeling lots of big emotions. It kind of fit to be doing that sort of work. And then also it’s this culmination of this love between these two sisters, and Art, and Mrs. S, who have been there since the beginning. And they have fought so hard for that relationship, and the whole arc of the show has been the fight for it. So to get to express it in the most raw visceral way — which is very true of both of these characters since Sarah and Helena are both very animalistic and very raw — to have them screaming into each other’s faces felt right.
I know you guys were shooting late into the night — or early into the morning, as it were — and then you finish it. It’s the last shot of the show. So what happens then on set?
I think we were all kind of in shock that it was done because I think the very last shot was like an insert shot of a screwdriver — right before it goes into Cody’s throat. It was a little weird anticlimax to be kind of focused on the screwdriver. But [co-creator] John Fawcett came out and gathered the whole cast and crew, because most of the cast had been there until 5 a.m. just watching, just to be there for the last moments. They weren’t even needed anymore. Most of them had wrapped a week prior, but they sat there and watched, and John said, “I want you guys all to just kind of stand here with me. I just want to stand here with you guys, and I don’t want this to end.” And we all spoke, and Maria led us in this song, and it was just kind of really beautiful.
I remember talking to Chris Pratt a few years back when they were going to film the last season of Parks and Recreation, and he was saying that while they were all really sad it was ending, they were also kind of ready for it to be over — that it felt like the right time for the show to wrap up. I’m sure you’re also really sad to see this show go, but does the time feel right?
Yeah, I think it definitely felt right. I’m always fond of series that finishes on their own terms before they sort of wear out their stay, you know? Like, I always look at British series, like The Office that had two seasons, and then a Christmas special, and that was it. And it kind of leaves it in this place of you always want more from it. I think it’s great that we were able to end on our own terms, and I definitely feel like it was the right time, because you don’t want to get watered down, and you want to still be telling a strong, forward flowing story.
I want to ask you specifically about Rachel, because I know she’s been a clone that you’ve really enjoyed playing. What do you think about where she ends up at the end of this show, because she redeems herself, and she gives them this vital info at the end about the other clones out there, but at the same time, she’s kept at arms’ length when Felix tells her she can’t come join the party. How do feel about Rachel’s ultimate arc and where she lands?
I feel like Rachel’s entire life has kind of been stripped away from her. Everything that defined her, she’s had it physically ripped out of her life. She’s this blank slate going into the world, totally unsure of what’s next — which I kind of love for her. I think that somebody who has always known what their life was going to be, and has always been in such control but then is thrown into it, and is more vulnerable than any of them, I just think that’s such a fantastic arc.
And I love Rachel. I loved that last moment with Felix. The two of them are on such opposite sides. One of them always seeking to protect the clones, and the other always seeking to control and own them. But there’s something about Felix’s empathy for her and Rachel’s openness in that moment that it’s kind of leveling. It was just a really fun, uncertain moment to lead her on, which is just kind of exciting to me.
NEXT: Bringing one more clone to life, and the clone Maslany will miss the most
You’re saying goodbye to all these clones, but you also did get to bring one more clone to life here with Camilla Torres from Colombia. How did you want to approach her?
Camilla was thrown at me very, very late. The last episode was written quickly while episode 9 was being shot. So when I found out that Camilla existed, I was shooting her in, like, two days or something like that. It was some frantic Colombian dialect lessons. Oh my God, it was just insane, in true Orphan Black style, just going for it. It was very little time to prep. It’s just always been the way the show is.
For such a complex show with conspiracies wrapped in other conspiracies, it’s such a nice normal ending with them heading out to the beach. Do you think Sarah is finally free of all that? What do you think her future looks like?
What I like about that ending is that it is back to just human beings. The conspiracy, and all of that, and all of these kinds of systems — the strongest part in that is the family that these people have created. Whether it’s a chosen family, or genetic, or whatever —they’ve embraced this family and this community. Which is so important, which is what makes them survive by the end — both physically survive and also just emotionally survive the things that they’ve gone through. I think Sarah has really struggled with S’ death, and can’t let go of it, and can’t actually accept that she now could be happy, because she has this survivor’s guilt that she wasn’t the one who died.
It’s a really interesting place to leave her, and I think in that moment where they’re going to the beach, she’s maybe shedding some of the guilt of her past, and this pain, and these things that have held her down, and have made her also want to run, and not be part of this family, and kind of abandon everybody. Not that I think she’s going to be perfect, by any means, but she’s let a little bit of happiness into her life, and I think that’s a huge success for Sarah.
Is there a clone that you’re going to miss the most?
Helena, I think, because she’s just such a little creature. I’ll never get to play that again. I’m definitely going to miss her, but all of them really.
We can look at these characters and how much they changed over the course of the five years. What about you: How have you changed as a person and an actor over the run of this show?
I feel like it’s just been such an incredible workout for me, as an actor. And I really learned about collaboration, and how important that is, especially with Kathryn Alexandre, who plays my clone double. I’ve learned so much from that relationship, and that dynamic of she and I building these characters together, and her generosity in her work, and how much she committed to it without ever being seen.
That is such an incredible lesson as an actor to take. I think just the bigger the risk, the bigger the fear of doing something, the more rewarding it will end up being. I’ve just been really grateful for this job and for what it has done for me as an actor, but also the amazing family I’ve created on that show and that we’ve built all together. I’ll never forget that and never take that for granted.
What are you most proud of when you think about this show and what you all accomplished? I know you all have a remarkably close relationship with your fans in terms of what this show has meant to them — often on a very personal level.
I don’t think any of us expected that, and it continues to blow us away, this amazing response from Clone Club. Also, the thing that I think is just so magical about it is that it’s a community that has come together around the show. I hear girls who are like, “I met my partner because we were talking, we were fan-girling about the show, and now we’ve been dating for two years. She lives in Australia, I live in, you know, Oregon, or whatever, but we make it work.”
It’s just been very supportive, loving, totally embracing of all differences and everything. This community that’s built the Clone Club, it’s just incredible. It’s such a testament to what storytelling can do, but also, what people’s response to it can be, and how positive that can be. It’s totally baffling to me that we were able to do that. But it’s something that we all think about all of the time and that has always fed into the work that we do. We’re just very grateful for Clone Club.
Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.