Captivating Tatiana Maslany
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Fans of Tatiana Maslany, prepared for more disappointment following back-to-back snubs by Emmy voters in recent years, were pleasantly surprised last month when the star of “Orphan Black” finally scored a nomination for her performance in the BBC America cult hit.

Make that performances, plural: Maslany portrays enough characters on the show, an inventive sci-fi series about human cloning, to single-handedly populate an entire category at the Emmys. Her one-woman ensemble includes Helena, a frizzy-haired Ukrainian religious fanatic; Alison, a tightly wound housewife from suburban Toronto; Sarah, a small-time con artist with a Cockney accent; Cosima, a dreadlocked lesbian scientist; and Rachel, an icy corporate executive with an Anna Wintour bob and the posh diction to match.

Now Maslany is competing in one of Emmy’s most fiercely competitive categories, lead actress in a drama series, along with the likes of Claire Danes and Viola Davis. Not bad for a girl from Saskatchewan.

We recently caught up with the actress via Skype from London, where she’s enjoying some downtime before she returns to work on Season 4 of “Orphan Black.”

The Internet was very, very happy that you were nominated.
It’s nuts to me that people care that much about whether I get a nomination or not. It’s a super-huge honor. Just the women in that category are unbelievable. I just feel lucky to be in that group, I can’t believe I’m part of that.

Had you written it off, or were you still hopeful?
It honestly just didn’t factor in for me. When the Emmy nominations would come out, that was the only time I was aware. It was never anything I was expecting by any means. For us, it was actually great publicity. People now know about the show. It was nice to be nominated but more so to have that kind of support from the fans.

Each season has introduced a new clone or two. What’s the process like for coming up with these new characters? Do you collaborate with [show runners] Graeme Manson and John Fawcett?
It’s definitely a collaboration, but it’s different every time. Krystal was different because she was meant to die in the first episode. I was really into “Kroll Show” at the time. And I was doing [a voice inspired by the characters in the recurring sketch] PubLIZity. I was wandering around the set as Krystal in that voice, and they were, like, “We can’t kill her.” Then we started to develop her into a full character and not just me doing Jenny Slate.

Rachel was somebody we discussed near the end of the first season — we’re going to have this corporate clone. The U.K. just has such a strong sense of class, and I thought, well, who better to go against Sarah than somebody who is entitled and affluent and had everything handed to her?

Has the show made you think about nature versus nurture?
Absolutely. I find it totally fascinating for one person’s genetics to have all these different outcomes depending on how they were raised or what the conditions in the womb were. The science of it is so human and psychological. It’s about personality and how we express ourselves in the world. For me it’s just a delicious banquet of possibility. [Laughs.] That was so cheesy, but there’s so much there to play with.

There’s probably not a lot of research to do since there aren’t a lot of clones running around … that we know of.
We have a science consultant. Her name’s Cosima. The character [Cosima, the dreadlocked scientist clone] is based on her. She gave us like a Clone 101 first season. She definitely helps steer the story in terms of the science but lets us theorize and go off and make things up as long as they’re kind of grounded. She’s definitely been helpful. Research in twins versus clones is so interesting to me because there is such a difference in being raised in the same womb versus being raised in different wombs. There’s a lot of information that’s passed there. You think of the influence of the mother’s biology, the person who carries the baby or what the conditions of her birth were. It’s really fascinating.

You have a background in improv. I’m wondering how you put that to use in a show in which everything has to be mapped out pretty precisely.
There’s definitely a strong structure to things, in terms of blocking and how I’m going to react. That’s been the big challenge, and the joy for me is finding surprise in it and being able to not improvise necessarily but always allowing things to shift, even in subtle little ways. Improv taught me so much about creating a character based on one idea… also about creating a person across from me that isn’t there. So often in improv, you’re on a blank stage and you’re creating everything for the audience. You have to be specific about what you’re holding in your hands or who you’re talking to. In those scenes [in “Orphan Black’] when I have nobody acting across from me, I really have to be a child and play make-believe in a way.

You must have a very busy stand-in.
She’s amazing. She’s actually way more than a stand-in. Her name’s Kathryn Alexandre. All of the accents, all of the character work, she has inhabited, the walks and the physicality. She watches all the dailies to make sure that she’s still on track with how I’m acting and moving as the characters. And she also improvises with me. She’s amazing.

On top of playing a number of characters, you sometimes play one character pretending to be another. How do you go about layering those performances?
It’s one of the most fun things that I get to do on that show, because there’s so much room for inventing what it is, depending on who’s playing who. Sarah’s a much better actor than Cosima is. Cosima playing Alison is a disaster, but Sarah can get away with playing Rachel in a way because she’s just more manipulative. I enjoy playing with that. For me, it’s always about making sure the base character, whoever is doing the acting, is strong and let them play the character. Let them try their best. Let Sarah try her best to be Rachel, and let all the cracks show and all the mistakes happen.

The show is dense plot-wise. Do you have the writers map it out for you?
Honestly, I am absolutely lost when it comes to plot. It does not stick for me. So I really just have to be in the moment and ask questions and make sure that I’m reacting honestly. None of the clones really know what’s going on; they’re all discovering things for the first time. I know the scripts inside-out, but the plot stuff — I get lost.

Any of the clones you’d like to see get her own spinoff?
Alison. She and Helena are probably the most fun to play. The possibilities for their emotional life are just endless. It feels like a different movie when we’re shooting Alison. Me and Kristian [Bruun], who plays [Alison’s husband] Donnie, we do a lot of improv. The twerking [in Season 3’s episode, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”] came out of us just dancing on set one day between takes. There’s a lot of lightness when we get to do Alison stuff — versus like Sarah and Helena, it’s always a bit darker.

“Orphan Black” has attracted fans beyond the usual sci-fi audience. Why do you think that is?
For me, I would watch this show for its dissection of how our culture looks at women and their bodies. Reproductive rights are at the forefront of news right now … we’re standing up and saying, “This isn’t right, and who are you to tell me what to do with my body?” “Orphan Black,” whether it’s subtle or not, really speaks to that. Also, TV is just led by women right now, and that’s what people want and they’re hungry for.

Is there anyone you’re excited to see at the Emmys next month?
Amy Schumer. I’m a huge fan of her. She’s amazing. There are a lot of the comedians right now I’m watching. “Key & Peele,” even though it’s two guys, it’s a super-feminist show as well, and they always sneak in a sketch that’s really pro-female. It’s a really interesting time for comedy.

Do you want to do more of it?
I don’t get to do it very often, but I absolutely love it. It’s my favorite thing in the world to watch.

What was the audition process like for “Orphan Black”?
It was like a theater sports thing. I ended up having to do Sarah-as-Beth, Cosima and Alison in front of all these execs in a kind of rapid-fire way. “Do the scene a few times as Sarah now. OK, great, let’s see Sarah as Beth.” I’d put on a little blazer and try to transition in front of them.

You played a young version of Helen Mirren’s character in “Woman in Gold” and spoke German. What was that experience like?
It was amazing. I grew up speaking German when I was very, very young. My mom and my dad are both fluent. It’s been in my head a lot. But having to act through that filter was really interesting … for me it took away the self-consciousness of language. It took away the way I was listening to myself, and it became so much more about the intention than the way things sounded. When I’m speaking in English, I can’t help but hear myself, but when I’m speaking German, there’s a different part of my brain that’s open. I’d love to work in other languages more.

Maybe you can do your next film in Mandarin.
Right — something easy.


Tatiana Maslany’s planned “Tonight Show” appearance has been rescheduled. Tatiana Maslany is no longer listed for the August 13 “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” but she is still expected to pay NBC’s flagship talk show a visit.

Per tentative listings, the Emmy-nominated “Orphan Black” actress is now slated to appear on the August 21 edition. Actor Jason Schwartzman is also listed as a guest for that episode.

Maslany was originally scheduled for the August 13 edition of NBC’s Fallon-hosted late show. A revised NBC lineup replaced Maslany’s name with that of actress Alicia Vikander. The recent lineup changes involving names like Cara Delevingne — and Maslany herself — serve to remind fans of the fact that talk show listings are subject to revision. But as it currently stands, Maslany is booked for August 21.

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Tatiana is featured on this weeks People magazine. Check out the article and photos below.

Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany is just as fierce off screen as she is on.

“I don’t think that any woman in this industry hasn’t [experienced sexism] – I think we all have in various ways, and sometimes you can’t even tell that it’s happening because it’s so ingrained in the way things are structured,” Maslany tells PEOPLE. “Seventy or 80 percent of the people on set are male – directors, writers, producers, people in positions of power, but that’s shifting too.”

Maslany, 29, was recently nominated for her first Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for portraying a group of clones on cult BBC America hit Orphan Black.

The actress says she “can’t even name the number of times” she’s personally experienced sexism working in Hollywood.

“Like being told, ‘Let’s not talk about that, sweetheart,’ if I have an issue with being hit on by a 50-year-old when I was 17 and on set,” she recalls. “It’s never ending. Being put into this little outfit that showed my midriff in a scene where I’m supposed to be grieving the death of a family member, and it’s like, ‘Make sure that her belly button is showing’ – it’s just pathetic. It’s so pathetic.”

On whether she’s ever been asked to change her physical appearance, Maslany recalls being asked to shave her armpits.

“And wax my mustache, which I refused to do! I’ll do it if the part calls for it and it makes sense,” says Maslany.

So what happens is she says no? According to the actress, there’s a power struggle “for sure.”

“Sometimes it’s not worth being political about it. There’s a point where I have to separate my own political values versus the character I’m playing.”

But Maslany has hope that a positive social shift is in the works.

“I can’t imagine that it’s going to stay stuck like this. I hope not! People are too upset, people are too pissed off and too many strong voices are now being heard,” she says. “There is a big shift happening, and I think we are at the messy puberty stages of it right now, but I hope that at some point it becomes the default that every racial group has their own stories that are being told that aren’t stereotypical.”

“It’s just about bringing that sensitivity, your emotional life and your understanding of humanity that women have that’s different to men.”


The actress tells TIME that even she has trouble keeping the show’s plot twists straight

Tatiana Maslany is hungry. “One second, I’m just ordering a sandwich,” the 29-year-old actress says one morning in March, just a few days before wrapping production on the third season of Orphan Black. Coincidentally, she was just explaining how she keeps her energy up while playing half a dozen clones—often onscreen at the same time—as the star of the BBC America cult sci-fi drama. When we resume a few moments later (sandwich successfully acquired), Maslany apologizes profusely, but there’s no need. After all, nobody who’s witnessed Maslany’s masterful (not to mention exhausting) work as she juggles the clones’ distinct personalities would ever stand between the actress and some much-needed fuel.

TIME caught up with the actress to talk about what’s in store for season three (premiering April 18), keeping track of the show’s many plot twists and why she’d “absolutely kill” to see a Broad City and Orphan Black crossover episode.

TIME: I wasn’t sure which clone was going to pick up the phone.

Tatiana Maslany: Yeah, some people aren’t sure what to expect—I’m super Canadian.

None of the clones have your actual voice?

Not really. We play with a lot of different vocal shifts, dialects. It’s really fun to explore that.

Do you ever just pick up the phone as Helena?

When I’m in a bad mood, maybe! Or if I’m hungry.

You went into a bit of seclusion after the first season of Orphan Black because you were so drained, but this time you headed right into production on a movie, Two Lovers and a Bear. How on earth do you survive?

It’s just the fact that this next script is so exciting, I can’t not do it, no matter how exhausted I am. Anything else I might have passed on, but it’s an amazing script that’s so beautiful and imaginative. I just couldn’t turn it down. It’s a director named Kim Nguyen, and I’m working opposite an amazing actor, Dane Dehaan. It’s an amazing opportunity.

With the introduction of the male clones at the end of last season, you must be happy to share the burden a little bit.

I was just happy for Ari [Millen]. It’s such a fun challenge as an actor to do this many parts and stretch yourself in this way. It definitely crossed my mind that I would have a couple days off, which wasn’t a bad thing! But he’s really taking it on and made it his own. It’s been awesome to watch him do it.

Did you give him any advice or tips?

We definitely talked about it. He came to set to watch the clone dance party. We discussed the tracking of it, but he doesn’t need any advice. He’s a trained actor and has done a lot of work! It wasn’t about copying another process or anything like that, and I don’t think he would ever have done that. It was just making sure he had ownership over the role and over the responsibility of it. He’s done such amazing work.

Whenever they add another for you, are you like, “Come on, guys, another one?”

Of course it’s a lot of work, but it’s always fun to introduce somebody new. That’s why I took the job! I love character work. I love exploring that stuff. I’m always thrilled. Daunted, but super thrilled.

Is there a carrying capacity for the number of clones the show can handle?

I think it’s a matter of making sure each is unique and each has a reason to be there. Then I’m good to keep going on and on and on and see how much we can mine from this concept. As long as they’re not popping up to be killed or something to be tossed on the side — as long as they each have their own life — then I think they can go on forever.

What rituals do you have to get into the mindset of each character?

It’s different every time. When I first started working on the characters, there was a lot of intellect that went into breaking them down. The physical work has stuck around for me: changing tension in my body, changing rhythms internally or with music or with animals—anything that will inspire me to move in a different way or carry my body differently.

Wait, animals? Like hanging out with dogs?

I walk dogs in my spare time! No, it’s more like using behavior of animals to inform a character. When I first started working with Alison [an uptight soccer mom clone], it was a lot of work with the idea of a bird — the way a bird moves, how a bird might hold their body up. It became something that was then subconscious. I wasn’t thinking about being a bird or whatever, just using that physicality to inspire me differently.

Does each character have their own animal?

Sometimes. For Sarah, there was lion stuff or rat stuff. Music has always been a big one for me — anything allowing for different physicalities to manifest.

What songs do you use for each character?

In the first season, for Sarah, it was a lot of U.K. grime rap, the Clash and M.I.A.—anything that felt like it was coming from the U.K. that had that vibe. With Helena, it was a mix of Tom Waits and Antony and the Johnsons. Cosima was kind of electro, like Grimes. Who else do we have? Alison was always show tunes. She’s consistently been show tunes.

What do you do for Rachel?

Rachel was anything that made me feel sexy. It was R&B usually.

Interesting — I think of R&B as being so loose, yet Rachel’s so rigid.

Yeah, totally, but I need to feel powerful when I play her. Anything that makes me as myself feel cool and not awkward is what I’ll use for her.

Do they give you time on your call sheet to transition? Like, “You have 10 minutes to become Cosima.”

We definitely have time between because wardrobe, hair and makeup changes take about an hour and a half for each clone. I take that time to transition between characters, to let the other one go and to start to incorporate the new one. We definitely don’t have the time to go to a dark room and brood for 20 minutes, as much as I’d love to do that!

My favorite parts of Orphan Black are when you play clones pretending to be the other clones. How will season three top the show’s production feats so far?

The more comfortable we get with these clone scenes, the more we’re willing to make ourselves uncomfortable again. We’re pushing the limits of what we’re able to do in those scenes. This season, you’ll definitely see a lot more of that, just us pushing how far we can do these things.

The first scene of the new features all the clones on screen again. How long did that take to film? The final product is only three minutes, I think.

We shot for one full day, and then we had to do pickups of each character. We would come back and shoot Alison’s side or Cosima’s side, so it was quite a process. But it was worth it. It was a fun sequence to make because it was so out of left field and new for our show to have that sort of imagery on screen.

Fans were upset when you weren’t nominated for an Emmy, but others pointed out that quality sci-fi never gets the love it deserves from Emmy voters anyway. What do you think it will take to change that?

I don’t know! Sci-fi is huge now. It’s everywhere, and everyone seems to really dig it it and get into it in a huge way. I don’t know if there’s still a stigma around it. Award stuff is overrated. It’s more exciting to have a rabid fanbase than to be lauded at an event where everyone’s wearing ball gowns. That’s not the viewership that you’re telling stories to. We’re so excited because our show speaks to young women and young men in a way that’s really personal. Whether sci-fi ever gets the recognition that it deserves is besides the point. Fans go so nuts for their sci-fi shows, and that’s way more thrilling than award stuff, you know? That’s who you’re telling the stories for.

Orphan Black is notorious for crazy plot twists: secret clones, government conspiracies, the works. How do you keep track?

I can’t. I’m so stupid when it comes to plot. I just try play in the moment as much as I can. I’m not too concerned about the plot stuff. I try to stay ignorant of it, but really I’m just ignorant.

You could always ask the superfans on Twitter.

Yeah! “Guys, what the hell happened in the last episode? Can somebody explain it to me please?”

How has playing clones changed what you think of actual human cloning?

It’s been interesting to learn and do research about it, but for me, it’s less about the moral ramifications of whether it should happen and more about what this concept means for humanity. When do we stop being people? When do we take control of evolution? When do we cross that line? It’s more interesting for me to ask questions than to have any definitive stance on it. Ownership of a body or autonomy over who you are and your choices in life—I’m more engaged with that debate.

How pumped are you about the season premiere airing across all AMC channels?

It’s crazy. I haven’t really absorbed the fact that it’s going to be on those networks. The size of it seems to be growing and growing. It’s very surreal. We didn’t know in season one if anyone was going to even watch the show, so it’s bizarre to think that it’s now going to be seen by that many people.

Not too long ago I saw a picture of you on Twitter in a Broad City t-shirt. Is that a show you’d like to guest-star on?

Oh man, that would be ridiculous. That would be so awesome. I’m just happy it exists—I love that show.

Can you imagine if Ilana was an undiscovered Orphan Black clone?

Yes, I could totally imagine it. I would absolutely kill for that happen.

Orphan Black Takes New York.

Exactly! I would love that.

A version of this story appears in the April 20 issue of TIME, on newsstands now.

Source: TIME Magazine

In portraying a horde of clones on ‘Orphan Black,’ the actress has created TV’s strangest — and most sophisticated — meditation on femininity.

The grand adventure of a set visit is entering a universe where everyone — absolutely everyone — is a pro at playing pretend. They’re admirably adult about it. They drink coffee and sit in chairs and operate machines, as if there weren’t lights so hot that they banish the winter outside, as if it’s perfectly normal for a sweltering interior to look like a dusty, sun­baked facade. Insides become outsides here, as gravel underfoot transforms a soundstage floor into a sandy desert.

But the illusions are particularly vertiginous on the set of “Orphan Black,” the BBC America television show that has the same star many times over. “Orphan Black,” you see, is about a group of persecuted clones, and all of them are played by Tatiana Maslany, a 29-year-old actress who has ridden her multiple roles to cult stardom and critical acclaim. On a recent morning in Toronto, Maslany was wearing a frizzy blond wig and was made up as Helena, the dangerously mercurial Ukrainian clone. Her face was covered in blood and filth. She was not — as far as I could tell — thinking about the Screen Actors Guild Award nomination she received that morning, or (as I was) the circumstances that landed her in the peculiar fishbowl of fame. She was focused instead on butter.

The crew was getting ready to shoot the other half of a two-clone scene they had started the day before, when Maslany was playing Sarah Manning, a street-­smart con ­woman and the protagonist of the show. Helena, by contrast, is a cult escapee with homicidal tendencies and a ravenous, animalistic relationship with food. The director of this episode, David Frazee, and Maslany were working through how Helena’s insatiable appetite would affect her behavior in this scene. There was butter present in the shot, but it was not there to be eaten. Would Helena be able to resist? Even a tiny taste?

“Are you going to lick the butter?” Frazee asked.

The cast and crew of “Orphan Black” labor painstakingly over minutiae like this, in the service of a much grander contemplation (or, perhaps, demolition) of female televisual archetypes. The show’s premise allows Maslany to portray a bewilderingly diverse set of stock characters — the punk-rock con artist, Sarah; the shrewish suburban housewife, Alison Hendrix; the geeky stoner, Cosima Niehaus; the Ukrainian psychopath, Helena; the icily aloof career woman, Rachel Duncan; the pill-popping cop, Elizabeth Childs; and many others — encompassing almost every trope women get to play in Hollywood and on TV. (Maslany’s legions of adoring fans call themselves #CloneClub on Twitter and contend that the credits on “Orphan Black” should say “Tatiana Maslany” nine or more times, once per clone.)

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Each of the clones on Orphan Black has her own distinctive sense of style, be it Sarah’s punk leather jacket, Cosima’s hipster scarves, Alison’s soccer-mom ponytail or Helena’s, er, very warm green coat.

Today we learn that Hot Topic is ready to release a new fashion collection, this time inspired by the brilliant BBC America TV series Orphan Black.

The collection features designs based on the four main clone characters played by Tatiana Maslany in the sci-fi series — Sarah Manning, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus and Helena.

The line is pretty much a cosplayers dream, creating almost carbon copies of the various looks Tatiana Maslany has donned as the many Orphan clones.

The detail in each clones outfit is so tied to her character and personality that you have to look more than once to catch everything, said Cindy Levitt, Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing at Hot Topic.

“Orphan Black” is executive produced by Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett.

Thank you so much to the folks at Fansite of the Day for choosing us to be the fansite of the day, today!!

This is some off-Broadway switcheroo. Amanda Seyfried will step in for the previously announced Tatiana Maslany in Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By. Orphan Black star Maslany has withdrawn from the Second Stage production due to filming schedule conflicts. Directed by Leigh Silverman, the world premiere will now begin previews earlier on April 28 and play a limited engagement through June 14. Opening night is set for May 20 at the Tony Kiser Theatre.

Seyfried will be making her off-Broadway debut in the drama. Her extensive screen credits include Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables, Mean Girls, Gone, The End of Love, Jennifer’s Body, Letters to Juliet, Big Love and the upcoming Ted 2, While We’re Young and Pan.

Also starring The Newsroom’s Thomas Sadoski, the two-character play follows Beth and Doug, two people who wake up together following a drunken wedding reception they both attended. Forced to question how much they really know about each other and how much they care about what other people think, the two face a very awkward encounter revolving around love, lust and the whole damn thing.

The play will feature set design by Neil Patel, lighting design by Matthew Frey, costume design by Emily Rebholz and sound design by Jill BC Du Boff.