Captivating Tatiana Maslany
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Now that the cult-favorite show has come to a close, its Emmy-winning star is shedding her myriad characters and leaving just one: herself.

This story contains spoilers about the series finale.

t was all of two-and-a-half minutes into the premiere of BBC America’s Orphan Black when viewers realized that the show—which began with a woman witnessing the suicide of a stranger who happened to look exactly like her—was something special.

But not even star Tatiana Maslany could have guessed that the series would introduce a breathtakingly sprawling mystery about human clone sisters navigating morality, philosophy, genetics, feminism, family, and a complicated conspiracy that doesn’t necessarily tie up into a neat bow at the end (sorry, Clone Club).

“I knew up to episode two,” Maslany explains of what she expected when shooting started. “I didn’t even know Helena existed until I was on set filming episode two of season one, and saw the next script and she shows up in episode three. I didn’t know anything about where the plot was going. I was just like, ‘How do we do this? How is this going to be possible?’ What a cool challenge to face.”

In the series finale, the clones (each personality crafted so masterfully by Maslany that it’s easy to forget she plays them all) finally take down the man known as P.T. Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie)—who turns out not to be a 170-year-old genius responsible for discovering the key to genetic supremacy, but rather a 70-something egomaniac obsessed with immortality—and his deputy, Virginia Coady (Kyra Harper), presumably toppling their Neolution movement in the process.

Though the episode doesn’t answer every question of the five-season-long, ultra-complex story, the final moments show each clone living her newly free life: Alison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) co-habitating in their suburban domestic bliss and helping new mom Helena raise her twins; Cosima and Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) off hunting for the rest of their 274 clone “sestras” in an effort to cure their clone-borne disease; and Sarah, foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris), and daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) moving on as a family after the death of their foster mother, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy).

A few days before the finale, MarieClaire.com sat down with Maslany to get those answers. In a Los Angeles coffee shop just a short walk from the home where she and her boyfriend, Welsh actor Tom Cullen, recently settled down, the 31-year-old Canadian beauty opened up about the show that changed her life, how science fiction is a lot more like our current reality, and what’s next on her horizon.

On closure for the clones:
“The finale was sort of like a two-parter—it had high-action intensity in the first half that felt connected to the world that we’ve been living in, which is so extreme and horrifying. But what I was really excited about, and what I think we were all interested in, was that quiet after—what happens when you actually have freedom but people aren’t able to move on? Like, Sarah is in this stasis where she’s doing all the right things but she’s not behind them. She’s not there. She hasn’t fully accepted the loss of S or really embraced the fact that now she can do whatever she wants.

One of my favorite endings is Rachel’s because it’s ambiguous. We don’t know what she’s going to do now. She’s completely alone. She’s been completely incapacitated in terms of everything that’s given her power and value in the past, and now she’s this blank slate going off into the world with no one.

She’s still left out of the world of the other clones; it’s still not her world to be in. I think she is who she is and I don’t know that she would ever surrender completely. I don’t think it’s a surrender in terms of, like, the bad guy surrenders or whatever, but it’s a surrender of power—which she does through giving Felix that complete list of clones. But she still can’t go into that room where she’s not invited. Her journey has really always been so interesting to me.

Cosima and Delphine got a happy ending. They’ve gone through the wringer in terms of everything—distrust from day one and always being on two sides of the system. It was important to us to show that as a gay couple they could have a normal and have a happy life, and that it was about using their skills to stop this from ever happening to anybody else—that as much as it is a nice time, they still have to go out there and make sure that they’re finding these women before it’s too late.

We were going to have a montage at the end after the clones learn that there are 274 of them in the world that was like, this one working at her desk, this person over here…but then we were like, ‘We don’t have any time to shoot this. That’s like 70 costume changes, this is not going to happen.'”

On P.T. Westmoreland:
“Given the political climate right now, it’s really interesting to have the person at the top be this desperately insecure, powerful, yet completely inept being—this guy, this patriarch who is completely self-motivated and doesn’t have any interest in whose lives he’s destroying. It’s all about him and all about sustaining life, this legacy of his life that he wants to create. It’s such an empty thing. One of my favorite moments of the finale is when he’s telling Sarah who she is and how he’ll always be in her and she just bashes his head in and that’s it. And it’s just like, ‘Shut up. Just stop fucking talking. I don’t want to hear that anymore.’

Of all the evil characters on the show, his was the most satisfying death, just because it ended up being such an unceremonious one. It was sort of pathetic. I mean, there’s a fight, obviously, but he’s just an old man who needs to go. And I think Sarah’s just fed up, done with it. That’s the first kill she’s ever done, as well. I mean, Helena was kind of a soft first kill because she came back.”

On Helena’s hair:
“I guess it just stuck. The roots just grew out a little bit over 20 years! I think that she’s been marked somehow, and I think because she also discovers that she’s a copy, she wants to be different from these people she’s killing. She’s marking herself and she has defined herself by her trauma, almost. She has ingested it as part of her.

I think she literally gets a bucket of bleach and sticks her head in it. It’s like her cutting of her back, it’s a self-flagellation thing.”

On Kira’s sixth sense about the clones:
“I think what Graeme [Manson, co-creator and executive producer] was playing with a little bit is that it’s just this empath thing that she has through a biological, spiritual connection. I think you can get that with siblings, too. I have it with my brothers, where my brother and I will be on the phone and I know what he’s going to tell me even though he hasn’t told me yet. It’s just a deep bond that is not scientific and not explainable in concrete terms.”

On bringing back old characters:
“The problem with this season was that it was so jam-packed with so many things to get through and so many characters that we had established that we wanted to flesh out further, as opposed to bringing in a whole bunch of new people. That’s why there wasn’t really a new clone except in the very last second. You see Tony’s photo in the finale, but we didn’t want to bring Tony in unless he had something vital to do and it wasn’t just, ‘Remember that guy?’ So I think it was about streamlining it to the five main clones that we got to know over the seasons.”

On her favorite clone:
“I enjoyed playing Rachel the most. She is completely opposite of anybody I’d ever be cast as otherwise. She terrified me constantly.

There’s something about Helena or Alison or Sarah or Cosima that I can physically feel, that I understand, but Rachel was so different, so contained, so entitled and powerful and elegant, moneyed and all of that, which is everything I sort of judge and don’t feel connected to. So it was really fun to always find the empathy with her and find what the connection was there.

Given what was going on politically while we were shooting it, it was really fun to play a clone who thought she could be outside of the system, who didn’t see herself as the same as all these other women, who sought to control it even though it was always going to control her. It was really fun to play these people who think they’re better than or think they’re outside of the humanity of other people.”

On shooting the last episode:
“Filming the backyard scene with all the clones was insane. We shot that over two days and it took a lot of rehearsal beforehand just to get the simple thing of handing off a glass of wine or a bottle of beer or whatever. It was so fun because it didn’t have any real pyrotechnics in it; it was just them relating to each other and all their insecurities and the things that they can’t totally accept in themselves, these parts of themselves that kind of unite them. It was awesome because obviously Kathryn Alexandre was there, who’s my clone double, who has worked with us since before season one, who has always been there. I always love working with her. And Bailey Corneal, who was my stand-in from the second season on, she’s stepped in a few times and played Helena or Alison. So it’s always fun to have that couple of girls together.

On shooting the last episode:
“Filming the backyard scene with all the clones was insane. We shot that over two days and it took a lot of rehearsal beforehand just to get the simple thing of handing off a glass of wine or a bottle of beer or whatever. It was so fun because it didn’t have any real pyrotechnics in it; it was just them relating to each other and all their insecurities and the things that they can’t totally accept in themselves, these parts of themselves that kind of unite them. It was awesome because obviously Kathryn Alexandre was there, who’s my clone double, who has worked with us since before season one, who has always been there. I always love working with her. And Bailey Corneal, who was my stand-in from the second season on, she’s stepped in a few times and played Helena or Alison. So it’s always fun to have that couple of girls together.

On the show’s title:
“We finally learn the explanation for the title in the finale—it’s the name of Helena’s journal. It was just kind of weirdly arbitrary in her head. It felt super weird to say the line that reveals it, because I was just like, ‘How do I take the curse off of saying this out loud?’ I still don’t know why she named it that! I have no idea. Somewhere in her brain it makes sense.”

On the impact of Orphan Black:
“There’s something really cool that came out of this show, which is this Clone Club community that impacted the way we’ve told these stories and our awareness of how fiction can effect change. It’s a community that embraces its differences and embraces people for who they are and is really supportive. There’s no infighting in that fan club and no discrimination. It’s just beautiful. There are people from Australia and Detroit who have met up, talked about the show and bonded over it, and they’ve forged relationships. There are people who are dating now who met their partner through Clone Club. That is just such a cool legacy that’s been left by the show, but mostly by the people who have watched the show.”

On feminism:
“Playing so many strong and smart women who take down a mediocre man—it was the best. It was getting to put all the rage and fear and disappointment and need for action into our work. We were telling that story from day one about autonomy, and about community as opposed to individual, and about our differences actually uniting us and making us stronger. So to get to actually talk about this mediocre man at the top, take off his head, it was really cathartic. I remember the Women’s March was happening when we had press so I couldn’t go, which was totally devastating. But we were reading this script that was saying the things we all wanted to say and we were having these discussions on set constantly. And it was all feeding back into the work. I’m so grateful I was on a show where I got to do that, because I don’t know how I’d get through it otherwise.”

On what’s next:
“Stronger [a film about the Boston Marathon bombing] will be out in September. It’s an amazing story of survival and love. I don’t know how people go through something like that and come out the other side of it, but they did. It’s with Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s unbelievable, and David Gordon Green directed it. It was really wild to do.

I’m also doing a movie that my boyfriend is directing. He just got funding for this very small-budget indie movie and we’re in the throes of figuring that out right now. He’s never directed me before, but we’ve acted together. We’ve worked together on a movie called The Other Half, which came out at SXSW two years ago. And he was in Orphan Black—he was Krystal’s ex-boyfriend, the guy I kicked in the balls.

But I haven’t done too much in the last few months other than creating stuff for myself and with a few friends. Really taking time to grieve the show and let it go and not rush into the next thing. I visited my little brother and my middle brother we just went on hikes and had coffee. Then I visited my boyfriend in the U.K. and we went away for a bit. And also I just slept. I rediscovered sleep.”
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Tatiana Maslany, After Clone Club

TATIANA MASLANY IN LOS ANGELES, JUNE 2017. PHOTOS: HARPER SMITH/SEE MANAGEMENT. STYLING: HENNA KOSKINEN/ARTISTS AND COMPANY. HAIR: CHRISTIAN MARC FOR FORWARD ARTISTS USING R+CO. MAKEUP: SANDY GANZER FOR FORWARD ARTISTS USING MILK MAKEUP.

Last month, the ever-twisting Orphan Black began its final season on BBC America. Soon, there will be no more clones—no more Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Rachel, Helena, and seesters—and no more sinister conspiracies to uncover. For die-hard fans of the show—which is, really, anyone who’s watched more that one episode—it’s an equally sad and exciting prospect.

Of particular interest is what Tatiana Maslany, who plays every adult “Leda” clone on the show, will do next. Orphan Black has been a career-defining project for the Canadian actor, who finally won a well-deserved Emmy for her performance last year. She already has several films in the works: come September, she’ll star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger, David Gordon Green’s retelling of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Earlier this year, she screened a short, Apart From Everything, at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Curently, she is working with her boyfriend Tom Cullen on a new collaboration with writer-director Joey Klein.

Here, Maslany talks to another Emmy-winning (and, as of last week, 2017 Emmy-nominated) actor, Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba.

UZO ADUBA: Where are you right now?

TATIANA MASLANY: I’m in L.A. We just moved here three weeks ago. I’m sitting on the floor in one of our rooms that’s unfinished. Are you in New York?

ADUBA: I am in New York. I’m chilling out because I’m tonight I’m seeing U2 for the first time.

MASLANY: Are you a huge U2 fan?

ADUBA: Huge. I love U2. I just got my wisdom teeth pulled and I look like a chipmunk, but I do not care. That’s how much I love U2. [laughs]

MASLANY: That’s amazing.

ADUBA: I’ll be singing and it’ll be fun. I’m really excited to do this; I’ve never done anything like this before. Before we talk about Orphan Black, I just saw the trailer for Stronger and it looks so good.

MASLANY: That was intense. You’re from Boston right?

ADUBA: Yes. The accents are really good.

MASLANY: Always a contentious point.

ADUBA: For sure. It’s hard to do, but you guys are doing it and it sounds authentic. The movie itself looks really good.

MASLANY: We filmed last spring, kind of around the marathon. I’d never been to Boston before and being in the city at that time—being in the city in general—was a really incredible experience. To be telling that story so soon after it happened… people were so supportive of the film being made and really generous. When we were shooting the actual marathon scene there was this extra, who was an actor, but also a lot of his friends were affected by the tragedy and he was too, just being in the city. We shot that sequence of running over five hours, and he and I were the only ones who kept running the whole time. He just kept running to stay with me, and it was just the most beautiful gesture of commitment to being authentic.

ADUBA: I was in Amsterdam when it happened, and it couldn’t have been a more random place. I was visiting one of my hometown best friends, and we were watching the news and calling up family. I tried to explain that everybody celebrates the marathon in Boston; it’s Patriot’s Day, but everybody calls it “Marathon Monday,” and if you grow up there you know what that day symbolizes. What is it like be working on something that is history? This actually occurred, these people do exist; people are feeling it in a different way. What is it like playing a real person versus say, in Orphan Black where you’re playing all these clones on clones?

MASLANY:
It’s a daunting thing to be playing a real person and to have contact with her and meet her and be in her circle a little bit. It’s an odd thing. There’s so much responsibility to tell the story honestly and truthfully, and at the same time, you start to develop a friendship with this person—or I did. I felt a real kinship with her and just her generosity. Erin Hurley, who I play in the movie—who’s boyfriend, Jeff Bauman, lost his legs in the bombing—was running and was a mile out from the very end [when it happened]. I think I still struggle with the concept that I was stepping in her footsteps. I took it extremely seriously, but the way I approached her was not like I was doing an imitation or an impression or a characterization of her, but more so what the conflict was that she was going through. I really focused on what she was going through more than her actual mannerisms because, for me, it wasn’t about that. Have you ever played a real person who you’ve met in real life or read about?

ADUBA: I never played anyone I’ve met. Suzanne [in Orange is the New Black] is a real person that Piper [Kerman] met in prison, but it’s still told through the gaze of Piper. It’s not Suzanne’s account of her life, and I never met with her to be able to get my own personal take on who she is and to inject that into the performance. I like what you said about trying to latch onto the emotional journey of what she was going through at that point rather than do an impersonation of her. Is that typically your style of acting and how you come into characters? In Orphan Black, is that how you find a way into all of these women? When clones are playing other clones in the show, are they doing impersonations?

MASLANY: Those moments are the greatest joy. I get to play with all of the things that we do as people where we see somebody a certain way, we judge somebody, we empathize with something in someone—all of the judgments, good and bad, that we have of people and how that makes us behave. If Sarah is playing Alison, Sarah’s judgments about Alison, the impression that she gets and the impersonation that she does. I like playing with the artifice of it and letting the mistakes and the cracks seep through. When I do those scenes, we’ll do the blocking and the rehearsal and, if I’m Sarah as Alison, I’ll do it in Sarah’s voice with Sarah’s physicality. Once the camera starts rolling, I like to let Sarah play as Alison. It throws us all off. It’s letting that character speak, letting Sarah have all of her judgments about Alison and whatever her physical and emotional experience is, which is really fun to do.

ADUBA: I watch the show and it’s genius, just strictly from the acting of it. Just the order and the ability to organize oneself, to have such a clear identity for each character so that Sarah doesn’t become Alison and Cosima doesn’t become Sarah. It needs to be super clear in the actor’s mind in order for us to get it, which, I think, makes you exceptional. How did you come to find acting? I know you were a ballet dancer when you were younger.

MASLANY: I’ve always loved performing in whatever capacity. From the age of 4, I was in hours of dance class—jazz and ballet—and loved it. I don’t know exactly what drew me to it. I would force my parents to watch me and my brother Daniel perform Jesus Christ Superstar for hours in the living room.

AUBA: No way! Are you serious?

MASLANY: Yeah. [laughs] I think I saw it when I was five.

ADUBA: I could start singing it right now. [laughs]

MASLANY: I would love to hear you do that!

ADUBA: I’m not joking. One of my dream roles is Judas.

MASLANY: How has that not happened? I feel like that’s a no-brainer. [starts singing]

ADUBA: I love that guitar. [makes guitar sounds]

MASLANY: I was playing it for [my boyfriend] Tom [Cullen] the other day in the car. We were driving down the highway, and I was like, “I really need to hear the intro to Jesus Christ Superstar.” He was like, “This is the nerdiest shit on the planet.” But we used to dance around to that and make our parents buy tickets for our performances.

ADUBA: At your house?

MASLANY: At our house, in the living room. We’d cut out little tickets; we already had a business sense about it. We would have so much fun performing and making up dances. It was always part of us,. Then when I was nine, my mom saw this audition, a cattle call for kids to play orphans in Oliver at the local community theater. I auditioned for that and it was my first time singing in public. I got the part of “Orphan #43,” or whatever, and that was the beginning of it. After that, I couldn’t get enough of it. I loved the rush of being on stage and how fun it was to be around kids my age who were all getting to play make-believe and dress up in costumes. When you’re a kid and are able to do that, it’s the most fun. Before I moved to Toronto when I was 20, I’d done movies and been away filming in different provinces in Canada. I was really lucky to have fallen into it, but it was only when I turned 20 and a friend showed me [John] Cassavetes’s films, that I was like, “Oh, shit. This is the possibility for what this art form can be and how it can transport people and transport actors.” I really took a second look at what I was doing, because I had been doing it to get attention and for the rush of performing. It was my career, but I was 9 years old to 20, and who actually knows what their career is at that age? For the last ten years, I’ve been deepening my training. The last class I did was a year ago in New York—Strasberg stuff. That’s my favorite place to be, back in class and studying.

ADUBA: It’s about the learning of the thing. That’s my experience, at least. There’s nothing to be gained other than a deeper knowledge of how to pursue the craft of it.

MASLANY: Have you found anything new since the success of Orange is the New Black and the specific accolades you’ve received? Has that changed your approach to work or the way you feel about it? You’re so fearless in your work and your commitment to your character is massive.

ADUBA: I don’t know if this is going to make me sound more sane or crazy, but when I am working, it is the most alive place for me. That statement feels louder that I intend it to, but that’s the only way I know how to frame it. It’s the safest place I know and definitely the most honest place I know. Maybe it’s that charge that you were talking about when you were a kid. When I’m in that space, that artistic, creative space of making something, I don’t think about anything else. Whether it’s the show or a play, all I’m thinking about is how do I get this person from stop A on this train to stop B? I’m still a person and I have my own life timeline happening simultaneously, [but] I love to act. It’s my safe space. I turn off the noise and shut the door on the world.

MASLANY: That’s amazing, that protectiveness of the work. I totally relate to shutting out the noise. Same as you, I feel the safest, the most vulnerable, and the most excited and alive in work.

ADUBA: We’ve seen each other in real life, and I’ve already gushed about Orphan Black, but I’ll gush again. We don’t get to see often, or often enough, what you do played in the female form. It’s pretty fucking cool. What did you feel about that when you were stepping into those shoes?

MASLANY: I was very excited to read female characters like these. I was excited even at the prospect of playing one of them; I was excited to be in the audition room and to get to play a few of the characters for an hour. I was dreaming, obviously, about getting the part, but just doing the audition was a thrill enough. Just to get to stretch and work like that in an audition space, where usually you do a scene and you’re out. This was four different characters, changing in front of everyone, with the process being outed and without any preciousness. I couldn’t step out of the room and be like, “Give me a moment.” I just walked in with a bag of crap in my hands, and was like, “I’m going to put on these glasses now and play in front of you.”

The response that people have had to the show in terms of the questions of identity and the feminist rhetoric, it was really exciting and sort of a surprise to me. Weirdly, the most I was thinking about gender when I was playing these characters was when John Fawcett, the showrunner, said to me, “I think Alison is the most feminine.” I was like “Okay. What does that mean?” I had this block in my head: “What does that mean that she’s ‘feminine’?” I was watching videos to figure it out. For some reason, the characters defy gender to me in a way: Helena is this Ukrainian serial killer who is now domesticated. Gender wasn’t even a concept to her; she was beyond that almost. My favorite actor on the planet is Gena Rowlands and she plays women who, to me, somehow defy gender. They are women, they are feminine, they are masculine, they are everything. There’s something exciting about that. I don’t know how to articulate it exactly. I guess it’s busting out of the archetypes a little bit and not feeling restricted.

With Suzanne, she encompasses so many things and is such a complex character, did you understand her when you first saw her? What was your thought?

ADUBA: When I first saw her, I understood it as simply a love story: this is someone who is in pursuit of love. That’s what I drafted out of what I read. It’s funny, because you were saying you didn’t think of it so much as identity, and I didn’t think of it as so much as orientation. I knew she was in love with a woman, but that did not factor, somehow, into her expression for me. I’ve seen her now fall in love, or attempt love, with someone else, and it still doesn’t hold firm for me. How we choose to define these terms has always been fascinating and curious to me—where that Webster’s definition came from. I’m currently watching and reading and playing a woman for whom that point feels so inconsequential to the action that is being asked of her. When I started, for me it was just a love story, and what I’ve I learned about her over the years is that she falls hard. She is a lover. If she sets her sight on someone, she is committed and that was what I got out of her. She is in, most times to her detriment. That was the thing I latched onto. We’ve seen her play out love in an intimate way, in a maternal way. She’s not a lover or a fighter; she’s a lover and a fighter. She can be both very easily. Suzanne doesn’t always get it right, but she knows she’s trying to do the best she can with the tools she has to make sense of life, the world, the people who love her, and the people who she feels are attacking the people that she loves.

MASLANY: The way you describe Suzanne is exactly the way I would describe Helena in our show—that lover-fighter thing. She hasn’t necessarily been equipped in a way that everyone deserves to be, but she’s doing the best with what she has and she’s learning constantly. Her heart is opening as well as her capacity to fight; the two are growing at the exact same moment. She flips between wanting to be this very socialized, “normal” person, but her instincts are more base and animal, and she has the capacity for both in her. They are in conflict and are married in her at the same time. It’s so much fun to play a character who carries two contrasting things inside of them, two polar opposite drives or instincts.

ADUBA: Are any of the clones going to die? I’m just asking… [laughs]

MASLANY: So, here’s how it ends…

ADUBA: Let me ask you this question: Would you sign up for it again, having now done it?

MASLANY:
I would never want to do a similar thing in terms of television. I don’t know if you’ve ever done a one-woman show, but watching that on stage is my favorite thing on the planet. I’m so drawn to people who can do that and I would love to try it someday. I think that’s the closest that I’d ever get.

ADUBA: That would be so cool. I would love to see you do that.

SEASON FIVE OF ORPHAN BLACK AIRS SATURDAY NIGHTS ON BBC AMERICA. UZO ADUBA IS A SAG AND EMMY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR, WHO CURRENTLY PLAYS SUZANNE WARREN IN NETFLIX’S ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK.
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What a premiere!! It was so great. What did you all think?

I’ve added screencaps from last night’s episode as well as scans from Entertainment Weekly. Enjoy.



I’ve added scans and new photo session images of Tatiana in Variety magazine. These photos are GORGEOUS. Enjoy the article.



The countdown to Orphan Black has begun! I will be posting something new for the next week in honor of Orphan Black returning next week! So exciting. So be sure to keep checking back. I have exclusive and rare photos I will be adding throughout the week.

Today I added a bunch of random photos that were missing to the gallery including new Orphan Black stills. Enjoy.



Tatiana was featured in Anthem magazine last week with Tom. Check out the article and photos below.

In Joey Klein’s impressionistic romance The Other Half, two combustible lives collide to spark fiery passion that’s just as easily extinguished in a series of preludes and aftermaths, and persistent loss and newfound love. The Canadian film marks Klein’s first feature out as writer and director.

Tatiana Maslany plays Emily, a mercurial woman with severe bipolar disorder, and Tom Cullen is Nickie, a morose hothead stunted by depression following the unexplained disappearance of his younger brother years ago. Emily first meets Nickie as he’s unloading unchecked fury onto a pesky patron at his day job. She intervenes, all googly-eyed. As luck would have it, Emily’s in one of her brief windows of stability. They quickly lose themselves in each other’s arms and find solace in their shared dysfunction. Still, Nickie tries to conceal his chronic melancholy and barely-corked rage under layers of bravado and macho posturing, while Emily cycles between wild buoyancy and terrifying manic episodes. Together, they clumsily clear a path towards something profound. In allowing this ill-fated duo to simply exist in their slow spiral towards possible stability—rather than hurtling them into a certain tragedy—Klein is sensitive to the incremental changes that come with fortifying love and the self-destructive demons we sometimes fight in order to maintain it.

The Other Half is a homegrown effort for Klein, modestly undertaken between close friends. It’s beautifully captured by DP Bobby Shore (Closet Monster, The Invitation), and skillfully performed by Cullen and Maslany whose real-life romance offscreen is unapologetically felt onscreen.

The Other Half opens in select theaters on March 10.

It’s been a long journey for The Other Half, if you consider that you, Joey, started developing ideas, I think, around ten years ago now. I know it has gone through quite an evolution since its first conception. Were there times when you thought it wouldn’t get made at all?

Joey Klein: Yeah, I think you have to be dedicated. And delusional. [Laughs] Also, I was fortunate enough to meet people who elevated me and made me better than I was. Somebody just asked [Tom and Tatiana] whether I wrote these parts for them, and while it’s true that I started writing before I knew them and before we all became close to our cinematographer Bobby [Shore], they really informed my process. They all helped with elements of the story and made it stronger. Once we were together, it made it easier for me to find the form and develop what it ended up being.

Things have gone chemically wrong for Nickie and Emily—Nickie with his PTSD and Emily with her bipolarity—yet they’re not entirely tragic characters. They find each other—“they don’t smell each other’s stink,” as you playfully put it in the past—and they push forward.

Tom Cullen: Thank you for saying that because that’s something we really believe in. This is a hopeful film. It’s about two people suffering and people slow to learn that other people are trying to save them. What I like about Nickie and Emily is that they’re not trying to save each other. They’re there to understand one another, without judgement. I find that really beautiful and very real.

These are unpredictable characters. For instance, Emily has a hysterical meltdown after going off her meds and Nickie will get into one of his scuffles on the account of his jealous rage. What did you find most compelling about your character on the page, Tatiana?

Tatiana Maslany: What I enjoyed so much about Emily is that she’s much more complicated than women with mental illness that I’m used to seeing in film. It’s a part of who she is, but it’s not cutesy or romanticized. It’s something real that she has to deal with on a day-to-day basis, which makes it difficult for her to relate to others. She finds a kindred spirit in Nickie. She recognizes something in him that he recognizes in her. It’s unspoken and goes beyond their traumas. Like Tom was saying, there’s an acceptance of the wholeness of a person, as opposed to a shiny veneer. We don’t run away after they reveal themselves to be more difficult than initially thought. Emily and Nickie are brought together by their complexity and what they go on to reveal to one another.

One of my favorite moments in the movie seems improvisatory: when Nickie and Emily take imaginary bullets. It’s very brief in the context of the whole film, but it leaves a strong impression. How much of what we see were found on set, as opposed to being written down?

Tatiana: We were pretty true to the script throughout, but Joey definitely allowed for us to go off in a lot of scenes and sort of find something, like a moment of levity or a moment of connection. Nickie playing the ukulele with Emily sitting on the sofa and improvising a song—that’s just play and a part of it, you know? Joey was really open to that and generous in giving us that space.

Tom: We only had sixteen days to shoot, so we had to be reasonably structured. Maybe if we had some more time we could’ve experimented more, but the script was really good so we stuck to it. Joey encouraged us to find little moments, little bits that came out organically within the structure.

Sixteen days seems like a mad rush toward the finish line. But you guys did it. You got a lot.

Tatiana: Oh yeah.

Could you tell me a little bit more as to what the collaboration looked like on set on any given day between the three of you, and also with your cinematographer Bobby Shore?

Tom: Bobby is an extraordinary cinematographer. His work is brilliant and his work on this film is just fantastic. I think it looks beautiful. What Bobby offers is immense commitment and generosity to the story, as if he was a third character. He was with us all the time and, with his team, it felt intensely collaborative. This was the most collaborative experience I’ve ever had on a set. Everybody, from the set decorators to the costume designer to the makeup artist and the camera department, was invested in telling this story together as a conglomerate of people. I feel like that translates onto the screen, even though we didn’t have a huge amount of time and we had to jump in really deep. It was heavy, raw work. I don’t think Tat and I felt unsafe to do that at any point. We felt supported. I feel that the real reason we were able to go so deep has got a lot to do with Joey who leads with a very egalitarian, smooth hand when he’s directing. It was a real pleasure. That’s the beauty of doing these small movies: It doesn’t feel out of your control and everyone has space.

Tatiana: It’s not just a machine.

Tom: There was a time near the end of the film where Tat’s having a really big break. It was a night shoot, it was the last scene we were doing, and we were right by a train line—everything was against us. Joey and Bobby had set up the shot, but I felt like Tat and I needed to get deeper into it. So I just got onto my knees and started talking to her as Emily, “You’re going to be okay,” and started the scene. There was still ten minutes before we were going to shoot and I felt like we really needed to stay it because it wasn’t something you can just drop into. Joey sort of noticed what was going on and said to Bobby, “Can we just change it now?” At the drop of a hat, Bobby changed the shot completely and shot it in a totally different way. That’s what the collaboration was like on this.

Tatiana: Even though it was night, the lighting set up a certain way, and everything was precious.

Tom: And working against time. That kind of collaboration where it’s in service of the work is something really rare. You’re often having to compromise your instincts, or yourself, for so many different variables. On this, it felt like the work was driving us. We were in service to that alone.

Joey, you’re also an actor. Directors often talk about how, if they do have that background, it’s easier to empathize with actors. They understand how scary it is to put yourself out there and know exactly what they’re asking of actors. Did that create a shorthand for you guys?

Tatiana: Absolutely! We’ve all acted and we all know what it’s like to be directed. We understand that world, that relationship, and that dynamic. Joey talked so much over the years about the way he wanted to work and the kind of work he wanted make. This is Joey’s first feature film.
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