This Orphan Black Star Is The Most Fascinating Women (Yes, Women) On TV

Photo: Theo Kingma/Rex/REX USA.
Even if you haven't watched Orphan Black, you've probably heard about Tatiana Maslany. The Canadian actress plays eight (and counting) clones who, as they discover their genetic doppelgängers, band together to maintain their individuality and fight against scientists and companies that consider them their intellectual property. Thanks to seamless camera trickery, an amazing body double, and special effects, viewers are completely immersed in the reality that eight versions of Tatiana Maslany exist.

She may play an entire clone army, but the nuances Maslany brings to each character are unique and precise. Anyone who watches the show is quick to sing her praises, and Maslany's hard work and dedication to developing every character she plays have become a behind-the-scenes narrative as well. We spoke with the actress responsible for creating the most fascinating women on television ahead of the season 3 premiere this Saturday.

What can you tell us about the new season?
"Season 3 picks up right where season 2 left off in this precarious place where the [Project] Leda clones are all kind of separate and in different worlds. Helena’s been taken away by what seems like a military group of some kind. Alison buried Dr. Leekie last season, so she’s obviously dealing with that in her suppressed, suburban way. Sarah is again sort of in the middle of this new mystery of these Castor clones, who have popped up suddenly."

The story has expanded beyond the original clones. What’s it like dealing with this new army of male clones?
"It’s great. Ari [Millen] brings such an intensity and such a cool tone to the show, and has such a great presence on screen. He’s always been really exciting for us to watch and play with, and it’s great to have him step into this kind of role and explore it."

Orphan Black has always felt like a feminist show.
"When we set out to do it, I think it was just a compelling story to us. There was no political bent behind it; there was no intent to change people’s perspectives or anything. I think that’s why it’s so exciting that it’s sort of taken on this other life. It really has informed the way we move forward. We think about it constantly in terms of how characters move through the world, how we perceive them, how we defend them, and the kinds of stories we want to tell... I’m a huge feminist, and believe in it so strongly and feel so proud that that’s the kind of stories we ended up telling. That response from audiences, critics, and fans has been really bolstering and exciting."
Photo: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA.
Last season we saw the introduction of Tony, a transgender clone. What's it like to play him?
"It was amazing. It was extremely terrifying to step into Tony’s shoes, but it was something that we all felt strongly about because of those elements of exploration of identity that our show is about — what it means to be human, what it means to be yourself, and the different ways we express our gender, sexuality, intelligence, or humor. Each of the clones is very unique in terms of how he or she sees the world and how they move through it, so Tony seemed like a natural extension of that exploration."

What have been some of the best fan responses?
"We’ve heard such amazing things from women or men coming out, because they felt reflected on screen for the first time in a real way...that they were able to be themselves because they felt they weren’t alone in it, and that there was a confidence or courage because their story was vital and important, and something that was being talked about."

The show also deals with the ethical implications of cloning.
"I think the whole idea of the ethics of cloning, for me, has always come back to more of what it is to be human, and what the ramifications are of not being special or unique. Or, the ideas of sisterhood, belonging, or family. It's like an overriding thing about ownership of your body, science, and identity. We find out at the end of season 2 that the women are patented, so they’re a product, but we’ve come to love them as individuals and as human beings. It’s a really interesting kind of conflict."

Will there be more clone dance parties in the future?
"I hope so! Even though those take two days to shoot, they’re super-fun. This season, we’ve taken the clone scenes [to another level] in terms of what we’re able to do with them, so hopefully, the audience is excited by that."

What are some of your favorite shows about women?
"I love Broad City and Orange Is the New Black. I saw this amazing series called Southcliffe. There are so many series that I haven’t had a second to watch, but those are the ones I’ve had a chance to catch up with. What we do is so dark sometimes that I always reach for comedy to get me out of it."

Finally, would you be opposed to us starting an Emmy campaign for you?
(Laughs) "I would be so opposed to it! Go for it, but I think there are better uses of your time, like watching season 2 of Broad City. Do that instead!"

Season 3 of Orphan Black premieres Saturday, April 18, at 9 p.m. on BBC America.
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Photo: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA.

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