Only One of Her: Tatiana Maslany ‘s Q & A with SAG members on acting and “Orphan Black”

Being a union member has its perks. They make sure you get paid well and have a decent crafty table when you’re on set. Sometimes, like last night, they say, “Hey, you wanna come see a screening of an Orphan Black episode followed by a Q&A with one (or seven) Tatiana Maslany?” The answer to that, by the way, was “Boy, do I ever!” Or, like I told my friends on Facebook, no person has ever RSVPed to an event so quickly.

What a better day to see Tatiana than the day Orphan Black was renewed for a fourth season? So there I was, on that same day, at a nice theater in a hotel downtown Manhattan, waiting expectantly.

After the first person asked me if my dreads were a wig (you guys, Cosima is my favorite, but I ain’t no Cos-player—those babies are 11 years old), we watched the first episode of Season 3, but really, though it was fun and cool and crazy, the people in the audience had seen this episode weeks ago. They came for the main attraction.

The Q&A (moderated by Emma Brown from Interview Magazine) started with congratulations on Season 4, of course. Tatiana, who’s set to be on Late Night with Seth Meyers next week, presumably spending her entire week in NYC, was joking with us from the get go. She truly is a beautiful tropical fish and I’m sure Amy Poehler would concur.

I was very excited, yes, but I still took many notes for you, because sharing is caring.

The first thing on the agenda was the Reddit AMA Tatiana has done earlier in the day. Someone brought up the fact that Orphan Black might have a total of five seasons and Tatiana, of course, was asked to comment on the rumor. She knows nothing about such a thing. She did say, however, that it would make sense to her because the show sort of follows the British TV model and many times those shows wrap after five seasons.

Tat 1From Tatiana’s AMA. It’s hard being her.

We then continued to the technical part of her work, specifically, she was asked if she tends to over analyze the characters she’s playing. She admitted that at the beginning her trap was that she wrote a lot of notes, did a lot of pre-planning for the characters, and in a sense, the show was a slap in the face. Instead of the head work, she was forced to just be present, give attention to the emotional life and her body. The clones are so not in control, she explained, that it would feel weird if she herself were in total control while playing them.

She also mentioned that the girls are each one side of an eight sided coin (her very own choice of words.) They all affected each other. Alison and Cosima were highly affected by Beth, and now by Sarah. Helena and Sarah complete each other in ways they never known before.

For her audition, she told us she had to play Sarah as Beth, but also Alison as Cosima (wouldn’t that be fun to see?) There was a mention of “some Ukrainian serial Killer, maybe,” but nothing was set in stone and she didn’t know about Helena.

tat 2Sarah and Helena, completing each other in ways they never known before, clearly.

Everyone wanted to know about the male clones, of course. For Tatiana, the fact that Ari Millen took on that challenge was a no brainer. His work really moved her, she explained. He was always so present and intense. As we know, he was supposed to be killed, but they loved him so much, that he stayed. “That doesn’t mean those who died aren’t good actors!” Tatiana joked.

And Ari had his fears when he was notified, granted, as did Tatiana who kept having her own fears even two seasons in. They sat for lunch one day and she also talked to him about all the fun that the job was. She wanted him to know there was a lot of joy in that specific challenge, too.

All the talk about the challenge led to a question regarding type casting, and how she should never worry about that now. Her reply was “Well, maybe the multiple thing is my type cast now,” which of course earned her a laugh from all of us. She explained that she has a short attention span, which is why for a while she didn’t want to do television. Five years with the same character didn’t feel like a good fit. “So instead I get five years with eight characters,” she laughed as she pointed out the irony.