Rising star challenged by multiple ‘Orphan Black’ roles
Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany beat more established thesps like Juliana Margulies, Claire Danes, and Vera Farmiga, among others, in the Best Actress in a Drama Series category of last year’s Critics’ Choice Awards.
Maslany won for playing a con artist and several other characters (including a cop, an assassin, etc.) in the first season of “Orphan Black,” which is about several female clones discovering and connecting with each other. The actress, 28, recently discussed her show, debuting in Southeast Asia on Lifetime (9 tonight), in a phone interview.
The Golden Globe-nominated actress previously appeared as the Virgin Mary in the miniseries “The Nativity,” and in TV shows such as “Flashpoint,” “Heartland” and “Being Erica.”
“[One] thing that makes me proud of the show is that these women are individuals,” she said of her various “Orphan Black” characters, which have radically different predilections and personalities. “They’re not just the girlfriend and they’re not looking for male approval in any way. They’re so autonomous. It’s exciting for me,” Maslany said.
How would you describe playing multiple characters with different lives?
Interesting and fun. I work very closely with a dialect coach. The writers of the show constantly throw curveballs and continue to challenge, develop and change these characters. Every time I read a script, I don’t know where it’s going and it makes it very exciting for me as an actor.
Also, each character has a different accent; I think the London accent is the most difficult. The most difficult physicality to maintain during a long day is Rachel’s; she’s the clone we meet at the end of Season One—her posture is impeccable and she’s always in the most painful high heels.
What’s the most important thing about working on this show?
What got my attention in this show in the first place is the combination of the script and the challenges that came with the job. The writing was so compelling and the characters were so well-developed on the page, it was a world I hadn’t seen yet in a TV series. And the challenge of playing all these characters, I didn’t know how that would be done. It was something that, as an actor, really inspired me and made me a little bit obsessed.
Name some of your favorite actors.
Robin Wright in “House of Cards” plays a fascinating character. And Laura Dern [in the canceled show “Enlightened”] played an incredible leading woman who wasn’t necessarily the strongest—she had so many flaws and weaknesses—but I totally know that woman, believe her and root for her.
What genres are you drawn to, and how is the show’s science fiction aspect relevant?
I have no particular preference for genres … [I’m drawn to] any character that’s good and interesting. But I think what sci-fi can do so brilliantly is to reflect back our world through a different lens, and speak about the future, shed light on it in a way that’s entertaining and fantastical … It can tell us about where we are as a society. I think that sci-fi doesn’t get enough credit for [that] kind of social commentary.
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