The BBC America drama series Orphan Black is back for Season 3, in which the clone sisterhood (brilliantly played by Tatiana Maslany), known as Project Leda, will be forced to deal with the fact that they’re no longer alone, as they cross paths with a new group of militaristic male clones (played so chillingly by Ari Millen), known as Project Castor. More shocking twists and turns will arise, and characters will be forced to come into their own more than ever before, if they’re going to survive.
During this recent interview with a handful of press outlets, actress Tatiana Maslany talked about Sarah’s relationship with Mrs. S and Paul, the state of Alison and Donnie’s marriage, Delphine and Cosima, whether Tony might return, the male clones of Project Castor, the friendship between Cosima and Felix, the threats of Season 3, a possible Beth flashback, how much she knows about before getting the scripts, and how gratifying it is to hear feedback from fans of the show. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Question: After last season, how is Sarah’s relationship with Mrs. S and Paul? Can things ever go back to how they were, after they betrayed her?
TATIANA MASLANY: What Mrs. S and Paul did to Helena definitely changed the game, in terms of who Sarah can trust. I think Paul was always somebody that Sarah was weary of and, at this point, he’s really sealed the deal on how she feels about him. But Mrs. S definitely offers a more complicated thing because Sarah had really started to take on this idea of Mrs. S being her mother, being part of her family, and being somebody she could trust, and this betrayal is so enormous that it forces Sarah into some of the most difficult decisions she’s had to make, so far, on the series.
Now that Donnie knows about the clones, is Alison and Donnie’s marriage the strongest romantic relationship, at least to the beginning of the season?
MASLANY: I think, yes. We definitely saw Alison and Donnie come together, by the end of Season 2. There’s a sense of understanding of why the two of them get each other and why they work. We’d only ever seen them in conflict before this, so it’s really nice to get to explore their romantic feelings towards each other and the sense of being a team. And we definitely get to see that a lot more of that in Season 3.
Since Delphine is becoming Rachel at the Dyad Group, what does that mean for the relationship between Delphine and Cosima?
MASLANY: Delphine and Cosima have always been on opposite sides of the equation, in terms of Delphine really being her monitor and having to pull the wool over Cosima’s eyes a little bit. And yet Cosima continually trusts Delphine, and continues to love her and romanticize what they could be in. I think the two of them really would love to just be able to be together. But unfortunately, Delphine has to cover herself, and Cosima has to protect her sisters, so they end up being on opposite sides of the equation again. It’s an interesting season for the two of them. I won’t say too much about what happens, but there’s definitely a lot of conflict.
Rachel had such an important Season 2 finale, in terms of her getting to meet Duncan and what that did to her. Did you feel like that was a really important episode for her, in particular?
MASLANY: It’s always cool to take a character that has been seen in one way and get to expand them in a different direction. Rachel has always been buttoned up and aloof and difficult to access, emotionally, so it’s fun to get to push her in a new direction and let her unravel and have that austere facade crumble a bit. A lot of these clones are dealing with identity, and family has a lot to do with identity. So any time we get a little glimpse into the back story of any of them, or learn something that we didn’t know about them, it’s always exciting to see them be shaken up by it, especially somebody like Rachel who is so buttoned up and so seemingly together and seemingly untouched by any kind of pain or fears or insecurity.
Is there any chance we might see Tony again?
MASLANY: I won’t spoil too much. Tony was an awesome addition to our X version of identity, in Season 2. I would just like to see him and Felix continue to explore what that relationship could be, and to get more back story on who Tony is. I think there’s a lot to mine there, and we’ve barely scratched the surface.
What was your reaction when you learned that there were the male clones of Project Castor coming into the mix, and how have they affected the whole mythology of the show and the universe?
MASLANY: I was really excited about the prospect of it because I think Ari is such a strong actor, and I think what they offer us is another exploration of nature/nurture, a different perspective, and a different kind of experiment. The Leda clones were raised in disparate circumstances, separate from each other. And so, for them to discover each other is their journey. The Castor clones were raised self-aware and in the unit. So, there’s a very different experience that they bring.
Did you offer or did you have any good advice for Ari Millen, about playing multiple characters for this season?
MASLANY: We definitely talked about the challenge of it. Ari is like an amazing actor, and he definitely had his own take and process, in terms of what it was for him. But when you’re facing something like this, it’s always nice to have somebody as an ally. We definitely had an open discussion going, any time that there was something that came up. But when I saw a rough cut of his first clone scene, it was unbelievable. His understanding of the technical side of it, while still being able to be present and relaxed, I was amazed by. He was a natural at it. It’s very cool to watch somebody else go through the same process that I did.
Do the Project Castor clones take a bit of the pressure off of you?
MASLANY: Yes. There definitely is a shift towards the Castor clones, as we explore them a little bit more. They did take a little bit of the brunt of the work off of my shoulders. But there’s also a lot of cool guest stars and supporting cast, that we’ve seen throughout the seasons, taking on a bigger role this season. We get to see Paul expanded. We get to see Mrs. S expanded. We get to see Donnie expanded. There’s a divvying up of the responsibility, and of carrying the storyline.
It was already complex for you to be playing multiple clones in the same scene. Does Ari Millen also playing multiple clones increase that complexity and the time it takes to film those scenes?
MASLANY: Yes. What we tend to do on the show is that, as soon as we get comfortable with one way of doing something, we try to screw ourselves up a little bit. We like to push the boundaries of what we’re able to do, and the limits of those clone scenes. You’ll definitely see more complex clone work this season, and that’s just because we’re getting more comfortable with the technology and we’re excited by getting to further complicate things. And John Fawcett, who’s the showrunner of our series, is crazy about adding new challenges to those things and making them more difficult. It’s really fun. We never get used to them. We add things like pouring wine, or five clones in a scene. We really just want to make it more interesting for ourselves and for the audience.
The rest of the cast is used to working opposite fixed points while you transform from character to character. How was it for you, as an actor, to get to experience that with Ari Millen?
MASLANY: It’s great. It’s awesome to watch the process from the outside. And Ari has a totally different way of going about it than I do, which is exciting to see because it’s such a unique challenge. It’s such a cool, uncharted territory thing. It’s not really a common thing to get to play so many characters on a series. I’m just really happy that we got him, and that he was willing to take on the challenge.
Much like the clone dance party, do you think there would ever be a multi-clone fight scene, between the Leda and Castor clones?
MASLANY: That would be super fun. I won’t spoil anything. I’ll just say there’s some very cool clone scenes coming up, definitely.
How will the friendship between Cosima and Felix develop, this season?
MASLANY: The two of them had been a little bit at odds, for some reason, and not because of any overt thing. Jordan was just like, “I don’t think Felix trusts Cosima.” And I was like, “All right, that’s interesting.” And so, we got to explore a more slow burn relationship between the two of them. They have so much in common, in terms of a shared experience of being lonely and feeling heartache. We really get to see that, at season end. Cosima entrusts Felix because she’s living at his place and he can’t get rid of her. Felix seems to have those unlikely friendships with the clones. Alison and he came together, even though they despise each other. They’re an interesting two sides of the same coin, in that relationship.
What other threats are there, this season?
MASLANY: There are loads of threats. There’s so many threats that I don’t even remember all the threats. There are a lot. It’s a huge season. It’s an absolutely enormous season. The mystery continues to unravel. And like in seasons past, as soon as you get a little bit of a clue into what’s happening, the rug gets pulled out from under you and you have a thousand more questions. So, it’s going to continue to be a mystery.
Even though this is a high-stakes show, there are so many great moments of humor. Is there more of that coming?
MASLANY: Yes, for sure. Any time you have Felix in a scene, you’re going to get some amazing one-liners. And Donnie, too. Kristian [Bruun] is such an amazing improviser. He’s created this hilarious character and gives me so much to work opposite, when it’s Alison and Donnie. So yes, there’s hijinx. There’s hijinx afoot.
Kira has always been special. What role will she play, this season?
MASLANY: Kira has been such a driving force in Sarah’s world. The stakes of her relationship with Sarah continues to be a big driving force, and Sarah, unfortunately, has to make some really difficult decisions this season that will affect Kira. We’ll see this family unit be compromised. I won’t say too much about it, but that’s a little spoiler.
What can you say about Art and his relationship to Sara and the Leda clones?
MASLANY: Art has always been this moral center of the show, and he has fought for the sisters, for some reason. We’ve never really understood why, and we get a lot more insight into him this season. I was so happy for that because Kevin [Hanchard] has been an actor that I’ve watched for years, before I got to work with him on the series. I’m a huge fan of his work in theater, and he is such an amazing actor. I watched him play Martin Luther King this last year, in two separate performances. He’s just so incredible, and we’re really lucky to have him. It’s great to get to mine his talent and expand that beautiful character that is Art.
The showrunners have expressed interest in doing a flashback into Beth’s life. What aspects of that would you be most interested in exploring or playing?
MASLANY: There’s a lot to her that is unknown and has been hinted at. I think she was going through a lot of turmoil and pain and I’d love to get to the root of that. There are so many things there to mine and go into. I would love to do that. I think that’s so cool that they said that.
What was it like to add James Frain and Justin Chatwin to the mix, this season?
MASLANY: Totally awesome. I won’t say too much about the characters because I don’t know what I can and can’t say, but they are definitely awesome characters. James was such a blast to work with. He’s such a compelling actor, and he has this darkness to him that’s so fun to play opposite. And Justin is hilarious. He offered a real great comedy to the series. We’re really lucky and honored that these people want to come and do the show with us, and are fans of the show, and take time out of their schedule to come and play.
Did you discover any new acting challenges with your respective roles, this time around?
MASLANY: I’m so lucky to get to have this challenge of playing multiple characters, and revisiting them, every season, and growing with them. The writers are amazing. They constantly expand the characters and give me more to play with and more to explore. I feel really challenged, every season. You can’t help but change, as an actor, as you grow and learn more, and you get to work opposite people like James Frain. Every day is a learning experience for me. It’s hard to even pinpoint what it is that I learned, exactly, but I know that I’ve learned so much, in terms of what it takes to lead a series and the stamina that it requires to play this many characters.
Do you get a heads up on what’s coming up on the show, or do you still learn about it when you read the next script?
MASLANY: There’s a lot that I learn when I read the scripts, which is nice for me because I can’t keep too much plot in my head. It doesn’t compute for me, really. So, it’s nice to be in the dark a little bit. But John [Fawcett] and Graeme [Manson], the creators of the show, have always kept an open-door policy, in terms of what’s going on and where we’re headed. They have asked for my input and ideas about the characters, and about new characters. It’s a really collaborative thing. I don’t think that every TV show can say that. It’s a really unique position to be in, as the lead actors, to have that kind of say. I really appreciate it.
Do you have a favorite scene?
MASLANY: There are so many. It’s hard to pick one. Helena’s slow dance with Jesse in the bar was really nice. It was a totally different thing for Helena to get to do. Alison getting to rip up everybody who’s been judging her in her community, in Season 1, and having her big blow up was really fun. And that scene between Sarah and Cosima in Season 2 was just a really fun scene to do together. To get to say those lines together and explore those characters, in this intimate, quiet moment that Sarah never gets and that Cosima allows her to have was really beautiful, and really fun for us to do.
You get the opportunity to go to fan conventions sometimes. Is it gratifying to see what an inspiration all of your characters have been for so many young women?
MASLANY: Yes, those events are the most exciting part of the job. It feels amazing to get to go and meet the fans, and get to interact with them in a personal way, and for them to get to tell us how the show has impacted them. That’s unbelievable. You never expect that. I didn’t expect that kind of response. And we’ve always been really humbled and really inspired by our fans, and by their dedication to the show, their knowledge of the show, and their breaking down analysis of the show. Also, just how it changes their own lives and their own personal journeys, it’s incredible. You don’t expect, when you’re doing a TV series, to have that kind of impact. We’re lucky to be in a world right now where we’re able to interact and discuss important things with our fans. It’s totally gratifying.
Orphan Black returns for Season 3 on BBC America on April 18th.