Orphan Black Star Tatiana Maslany Previews the 'Insanely Dangerous' Clone Conspiracy Thriller
In the sci-fi thriller, Tatiana Maslany (Being Erica) stars as Sarah, an outsider who finds herself embroiled in a clone conspiracy when she encounters a suicidal woman who looks just like her and decides to take over her doppelganger’s life.
Below, the actress talks about playing two (and three and four and so on) different characters, the “insanely dangerous” life Sarah steps into and when answers are coming.
TVLINE | How challenging is it for you, production-wise, having to play multiple characters in the same episode?
Well, I didn’t have a day off. [Laughs] And most of my weekends were filled with prep for the next episode. I did a lot of dialect work. I did a lot of movement work. I did a lot of specific character work and backstory. I loved it. I loved every second of it. It was exhausting, but I’m so grateful that it was this show that I got to do. I was completely in love with the project. It made the work a complete joy.
TVLINE | The show has a crazy but exciting premise. Can you sum it up?
Sarah is a working class girl from London who has been living rough and is trying to come back from a life of mistakes and regrets… and make good and start with a clean slate. When she comes back, she’s on the train platform, and she witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks identical to her. Sarah takes this opportunity to open the door to a new life. She thinks she can make some money out of it, take the money and run. But she ends up being completely and inexorably attached to this woman whose identity she’s taken and all the consequent women that she starts to meet who look identical to her, as well. It’s a story about identity. It’s a story about the question, “Who am I?” It’s a thriller, and at the same time, it’s a character piece. It’s sci-fi, but it’s funny. It’s got pretty much everything, which is pretty awesome.
TVLINE | What challenges does she face by stepping into this other woman’s life?
First off, Beth, the woman she’s impersonating, is North American, and Sarah is from the UK, so she has the accent that she has to shed. She’s on the other side of the law, as well. Beth is a cop, and Sarah is a criminal, so there’s an inherent distancing there. Sarah sees Beth’s life through videos and accruing information from people in Beth’s life, but she doesn’t know her at all. It’s insanely dangerous what she’s doing. She’s stepping into somebody else’s life with no knowledge of that person’s life, and she’s flying by the seat of her pants. It’s super fun to play, and it’s quite fun to watch as well.
TVLINE | What’s her reaction like when she starts to stumble upon this conspiracy with the clones?
She’s kind of like, “I want nothing to do with this.” Her main goal is to get back to her daughter, and this is a distraction that’s completely throwing her plan off the rails. Most people would investigate this other person that looks like them, but Sarah’s just trying to get out. There’s something about Sarah that [makes her want to run] constantly and [makes her] unable to stay still and unable to be intimate with anyone. Throughout this, she’s forced to get to know these women and consequently get to know herself and to actually face herself. Maybe in a cheesy way, the way I see the clones is a manifestation of yourself, facing yourself. Like, “What if? What if I was raised here? What if I was raised there? What if I had that kind of family? What if this was my passion?” The nature/nurture question is really interesting to me.
TVLINE | Can you talk about the dynamic between Sarah and Felix (played by Jordan Gavaris) and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy)?
Felix and Sarah were fostered together in the UK and have really bonded and are each other’s family and each other’s everything. Sarah sort of abandoned him 10 months ago when she abandoned her daughter. So Sarah has a lot to make up for. Felix and her are in an intense place when we see them for the first time, but they also have this deep amount of love for each other and deep need to be there for each other and to have the other one there for them. And Mrs. S is the woman who fostered the two of them and brought them to North America. Her relationship with Sarah is quite tense. Mrs. S knows that Sarah isn’t able to be a mother. She knows that Sarah isn’t responsible enough and not still enough to take care of another life, so she’s very skeptical when Sarah’s come back to make good because she doesn’t foresee that happening.
TVLINE | By the end of the season, does it feel like you get a significant amount of answers?
Loads of answers. At the same time, as soon as we’ve got more answers, there’s more questions. That’s my favorite kind of television, where it’s not wrapped up in a pretty little bow. It’s like life. You deal with one thing in your life, 500 others rear their head. It’s got so much potential. We start to unravel all of the characters, all of the other clones, and really get to know them and they become leading characters in their own right. The world just grows and grows.