Pasadena, Calif. — The biggest mystery of Orphan Black is not the clone conspiracy but how Tatiana Maslany convincingly plays multiple characters, often in the same scene. So with the BBC America series adding a line of male clones for season three, which premieres April 18, Ari Millen has his work cut out for him.
“The greatest tip Tat gave me was ‘just watch,’” said Millen, who plays Mark, Rudy (“Scarface”) and perhaps other male clones, at the TCA winter press tour Saturday. “I saw her ease, taking time to breathe, doing one at a time.”
Maslany admitted that she felt stressed while filming the first season.
“Initially I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she said. “Now it’s a little looser.”
Millen almost wasn’t going to play the male clones of Project Castor, let alone make it through season two. Cocreator John Fawcett said that while Project Castor was part of the story from the beginning, they initially planned to kill off Millen’s character Mark midway through season two.
“It was a little bit of an organic process, deciding who was going to be the face of Project Castor,” Fawcett said. “We’re always trying to make choices that evolve the show in directions that people aren’t expecting. There’s always room for deviations.”
From her first scene with Millen at the onset of season two, Maslany said she was impressed with him, praising his intensity. “He was just so scary, because he was so alive and compelling and had this amazing energy,” she said. “So to have him take on this challenge, I felt like it was a no-brainer.”
Rudy, Millen’s clone introduced at the tail end of season two, is even scarier. Sporting a mohawk and a scar, Rudy’s character got a visual start, Millen said. He teased the quirks of his new character: “The one thing you can say about Rudy is he likes to get under people’s skin. He’ll just dig and dig.”
The series is still centered around Maslany’s clone of Sarah, whose relationship with her foster brother Felix, played by Jordan Gavaris, serves as the show’s anchor. While the dynamic between Felix and suburban clone Alison figured prominently in the first two seasons, Fawcett hinted that the third season will explore Felix’s relationships with the other clones, particularly scientist Cosima. “She’s spending quite a bit of time at Felix’s loft,” Fawcett said.
Nevertheless, Maslany seems to have a bit of a lighter load this upcoming season with the addition of the male clones. “It gave me the chance to have some three-day weekends,” she said.
Other highlights from the panel included:
—After Fawcett gave a long answer to a question about the possibility of other clone groups, Gavaris said, “to summarize, that’s a big maybe.”
—Asked which character name people call her on the street, Maslany said it depends on the demographic. “Young women tend to relate to Cosima,” she said. “Middle-aged [people] are really into Alison. Mostly, Sarah.”
—Maslany and Millen, who actually performed opposite each other at improv tournaments in high school, shared a few memories from their teenage years in Canada. “Did you guys win?” he asked. “It’s not important,” she replied, adding that she remembered he was the leader of his team and “wearing a hockey jersey.” Millen recalled that Maslany’s team picked her up as Simba. “I always got picked up,” Maslany explained. “That was one of the things with our team — when in doubt, hoist Tat.”