Press: Tatiana Maslany of ‘Orphan Black’ on Show’s Complex LGBTQ Storytelling

When Tatiana Maslany landed the lead role on BBC America’s “Orphan Black” she was “terrified to start” and could not have imagined what the series could become. Now heading into next year’s final season, “Orphan Black” — and its two-time-Emmy-nominated star — have a substantial LGBTQ following, thanks in part to the series’ commitment to complex LGBTQ representation.

Maslany plays a group of clones that discover they are part of a long-term experiment. It begins with her main character, grifter Sarah Manning, seeing a woman who looks just like her jump to her death. Sarah then goes on to find the “sisters” of the jumper and discovers instead the group of clones in the experiment. Sarah’s family and new “sisters” find themselves in an increasingly dangerous world and must work together to survive.

The Canadian-born actress has played a variety of characters over the course of the series. Her ability to slip from one character to another seamlessly has been celebrated celebrated, but so was her portrayal of Cosima — a complex LGBTQ character.

Cosima is a strong, brilliant scientist, and the character is a prime example of the show’s commitment to telling complex LGBTQ stories.

“Cosima has always known who she was and felt very comfortable in her skin,” Maslany told NBC OUT. In fact, the actress’s favorite Cosima line was one where the character stated her sexuality was not the most interesting thing about her.

While Cosima is a scientist, she is not relegated to the lab — her story includes a messy tale of love. Each clone has a “monitor,” a person who watches them and keeps records of their movements, and Cosima just happened to fall in love with her monitor. Delphine, played by Évelyne Brochu, is a fellow brilliant scientist who monitors, falls in love with and then works alongside Cosima.

“It’s a love story between two people who loved each other for who they were — their connection was intellectual,” Maslany added.

The couple had very unique and immense hurdles to navigate throughout the series. It was not easy, and that was always the intention.

“We always wanted it to be real and complicated,” Maslany added. “We never wanted it to be a fairy tale relationship. Two people who are from opposite experience who are trying to stay together.”

In its third season of “Orphan Black,” another clone named Tony, a transman, was added to the cast of characters. “Because our show is about identity and your gender identity is so intricate to who you are as a person and how you express yourself, it felt like a natural way to explore identity,” Maslany said.

Tony was never meant to represent the entire trans community but to tell one powerful, unique and meaningful trans story. “We were very interested in exploring him in an unconventional way. His own expression is very unique and nonconforming, and that is something we were excited to explore,” Maslany added.

Sarah Manning’s foster brother, Felix, played by Jordan Gavaris, is another prominent LGBTQ character on the show. Over the course of the series, viewers have seen Felix have relationships with men, but also embrace Sarah’s new sisters, fight for his family and find his own blood relatives. Like Cosima, his sexuality is not his only storyline.

“We look to television often, and movies, for how to be ourselves and see people you can relate to, so it’s rewarding that we’re telling stories that people can relate to,” she added.

While starring on “Orphan Black,” many fans have spoken to the actress about their experience watching the series and what it has meant to them as LGBTQ people. Maslany said talking to fans has been “one of the most rewarding parts” of her experience on the show. The responsibility that has come with that experience is “not a burden but a joy and honor,” according to the actress.

Looking to life after “Orphan Black,” Maslany is excited about the future of storytelling in television and film. “‘Orphan Black’ changed the way I see how what we do can really affect people and change people — start dialogue,” she added.

“I have seen so much happen around me in the last few years in terms of ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Transparent,’ and all these shows … are changing the way we watch television and the kinds of stories we tell,” Maslany told NBC OUT.

“I just want to be part of those things — to tell stories like that.”

Press: Tatiana Maslany and Matthew Rhys Talk Emmy Nominations, Role Playing and Final Seasons

Call them the small screen’s masters of disguise. Tatiana Maslany has played 11 unique characters, and counting, on the sci-fi thriller “Orphan Black,” and Matthew Rhys has donned well over a dozen alternate identities as undercover KGB spy Philip Jennings on “The Americans.” And yet despite significant critical acclaim for their work from the very beginning, it took Emmy voters awhile to catch on. Maslany earned her first nom last year in her third season, while Rhys finally broke through this year in season four. Variety introduced the Canadian-born actress and Welsh-born actor by phone, while she was in Prague and he was in Brooklyn. Together they reflect on what it’s like to play roles within roles, prepare for their respective final seasons, and be “snubbed.”

Congratulations on the Emmy nominations this year. Both of you had a few years of people saying you were “snubbed.” And how does actually getting nominated compare?
Maslany: I didn’t feel snubbed by any means. The category for female perfor-
mances right now is so strong and what’s happening in television is so exciting, I didn’t feel like I’d been snubbed. But it’s so nice that people cared about it like that, and to know that the fans were upset. But by no means was it my intention to be nominated for something. I don’t know how you felt Matthew?
Rhys: I felt completely snubbed and outraged that we were being overlooked in such a way. I was just willing “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” to fail miserably so we might have a shot at a nomination [laughs]. No. I think we’re both in similar situations whereby the amount of time we’ve put in now has accumulated a very strong backstory. All the foundation work you plant in the early seasons pay off in stronger storylines deep into our seasons. I think that only aids in performance. It all just helps.
Maslany: Do you find your character has shifted over the years? I see so much growth in him and change.
Rhys: Absolutely, we’re fortunate to have these massive arcs that make for more potent storylines. Would you say the same?
Maslany: Yeah, definitely. I feel like also because people have responded positively, and we have an audience, there’s more space for us to take risks and test the characters a bit. We have trust from the audience and they’re willing to go on more complex stories. At the beginning I feel like it’s about trying to establish an audience, and make sure people are watching. When you get to settle into it and fit in those moments it’s different.
Rhys: I think both shows ask a lot of the audience. We ask the audience to make big leaps of faith to come with us. By now we both have a very strong, very unique fanbase. You can push their limits and boundaries, which is exciting and a great opportunity.

Did you get the feeling that industry awareness of your shows grew as the seasons went on?
Maslany: You know, our show’s Canadian, and that doesn’t always translate over the border. We’re really lucky we had a few things that gave us the visibility. Whether that was fans forcing people to watch the show or critics taking note of it and being interested and putting it out there. But I feel like we happened into it, we’re quite fortunate to have the viewership we do. And this recognition, it’s kind of surreal to us being a Canadian show.
Rhys: I’m never sure what planets need to align for any of these things to happen. We certainly don’t have a very big audience, but we’ve been fortunate in the critics that have liked us. That’s aided us over the years. And a small amount of press pressure has helped our cause. But with the kind of shows we have, once you have a fan they’re quite loyal. We’ve been fortunate that some of those are present in the press.

Looking back to when you first got these roles, did you have any sense they might change your life and career?
Maslany: No. Not at all [laughs].
Rhys: Did the creators give you an idea of the amount of characters you’d be playing?
Maslany: They sort of grew as the seasons went on. Even the first season, I auditioned three or four of the characters, by the fourth episode they’d already added another and by the end of the season another. It was a total surprise to me. I don’t know how far in advance you know what the storyline is? Do you know from the beginning of the season or are they writing as they shoot?
Rhys: Last year was the first year whereby they had the entire season mapped out very meticulously and this season will be the same again. The first three seasons — the first one and two especially — were done on the hoof, finding it as we were making it. There was no real plan as to the amount of characters we would play, that all came on a weekly basis. How much did they ask you to define the different characters? How much was it yours and how much was theirs?
Maslany: It’s always been a collaboration. The first five characters were pretty solid and kind of already defined, but they always had an open-door policy. I fought hard to have certain characters be from a different place, to give them a class distinction or something like that. I try to work in those details. It’s always been a very open-door policy. Do you have any say in where your character is heading or the choices he makes?
Rhys: No, very little. There’s a very specific mandate in the intelligence world, especially from Joe Weisberg, the creator, who is a former CIA operative himself. The great temptation for me, as an actor, is to be as transformative or chameleon-like as possible. But in the intelligence world you’re trying to stay as close to the truth as possible. Characterization shouldn’t veer far from who you are. You don’t want to stand out, you don’t want people to see that you’re playacting. Any lie should be as close to the truth as possible. They’re always encouraging you to not go for any exaggeration, it should always remain incredibly close to who you are so you don’t stand out. It seems like it’s the opposite for you, the range and scope is far more open.
Maslany: For sure in finding the differences and exaggerating the differences. But I find that has also fallen away as we’ve been able to be more still in the storyline, when it boils down to more character interactions.

You both are often faced with the unique challenge of playing people playing other people. Is that one of the toughest things to do as an actor or is it easier than you’d think?
Rhys: Have you ever seen Anthony Hopkins in “Remains of the Day” where he has such an enormous inner obstacle and he lets the audience see it but no one else? To me that’s one of the greatest challenges. You want to allow the audience in to show the inner monologue that’s going on, without the characters in the scene seeing the inner workings of what’s going on.
Maslany: My favorite stuff is those kind of layered character on character [scenes], but I also find it to be weirdly embarrassing on set. You’re trying to not give anything away, but at the same time there are cracks that show. It always feels quite out of control. There’s a conflict inside you, a duality.
Rhys: That for me is the more interesting and equal parts difficult thing to play. But 99% of the time I’m embarrassed on set. That’s a given.

How much does the technical stuff — costumes, hair — help your performance?
Rhys: Tatiana, do you have a big choice in the physical appearance? Do you work with the hair and makeup people?
Maslany: It’s super collaborative. We often come up with the look together. Or there are certain characters that the creators wanted a certain way, and the hair and makeup team have a total contrary [idea] to what was assigned, and that’s so interesting to me. Every day in the hair and makeup trailer there’s something new we’re working on, changing how a character is growing or bringing a totally new person in. Do you have the same kind of say?
Rhys: Yes and no. There’s a lot of trying on different wigs and looks and glasses and facial hair in the makeup trailer. But ultimately the look always ends with our two creators. If they don’t think it’s right, they’ll say as much and it will change. They are very open, but the say is ultimately with them. What we present to them, that process is very collaborative. There’s a lot of different looks tried and opinions voiced. It’s an army of opinions until you get there.
Maslany: And do you stand there in the new disguise and get picked apart? The execs come in and look at you like a painting or a sketch?
Rhys: Yeah, that’s definitely one part of the embarrassment of it all.

You’re both very funny even though your shows are generally dramatic. Do you ever have the urge to jump into comedy?
Maslany: Didn’t you do an animated voice recently?
Rhys: Oh, “Archer”? That was purely because I was on a bus with a lot of FX people. It was taking a very long time, and I was drunk in the back with the “Archer” creators. They asked me about Wales, and I told them a story that they turned into an episode of “Archer.” That’s how it came about. It was very fortuitous to happen on a drunken bus ride that FX put on. Do you find that you’ll layer in comedy and lightness and then in the final edit it’s taken out?
I feel like it’s often the opposite. The creators have such a dark sense of humor. The scene can be so funny that I try to play against it to add some kind of tension. But there are the characters that go so big and I do get carried away, that’s so much fun. On “The Americans” the situations can be so absurd sometimes that there must be that sense of playfulness.
Rhys: In those moments, with both shows, it’s such a heightened reality. Absurd is a good word. You walk this fine line of absurdity at all times, if there’s a moment you can almost acknowledge it I think it lets the audience in a little more. They become part of it, you make them aware of how crazy this all is.

“Orphan Black” has one season left and “The Americans” has two. Is there excitement in bringing the story to a close?

Maslany: I’m super sad to have it finish because it’s been such a dream job, but it’s nice to know there’s a conclusion. We can head toward something and the plug hasn’t been pulled before we were ready to finish the story. I think it’s gonna be a very fun season in terms of wrapping things up and finding answers to questions that we’ve been posing for seasons now. I’m sure it’ll be very emotional for all of us because we’ve really become a family on the show.
Rhys: I love the fact that we have two seasons and we can work very specifically to a determined end. Our sixth season is a shortened season, you hope you’ll go out punchy and not ring the towel dry and peter out slowly. It’s an opportunity to write to a strong end, which is always good.
Do either of you already know storylines for your final seasons?
Maslany: I know nothing.
Rhys: I know even less than nothing. They give us an arc at the beginning of the season, and a strong idea to what will happen. But we have no idea about the next two seasons. I’ve pitched a number of my own ideas but they didn’t take.

Any you can share?
Rhys: They were all rejected. I was of the opinion that ultimately we’d be turned by Stan Beeman next door and become double agents, or even triple agents. But they didn’t go for that.

Tatiana, do the showrunners tell you more at this point?
Maslany: I’m definitely more in the loop than I used to be, but I also feel like the show is quite creatively written. While we’re shooting, things will change and be sort of malleable. This time I think there’s a strong idea of where we’re heading, but they do keep things open to new characters taking bigger parts, or that sort of thing.

What are you most looking forward to at the Emmys?
Rhys: Meeting Liev Schreiber.
Maslany: I’m pretty excited to meet Gaby Hoffmann. That would be cool.
Rhys: The red carpet fills me with dread.
Maslany: Me too. Bring food. That’s what I have to remember this year.
Rhys: Because it’s so long?
Maslany: Yes, and there were like four hamburgers and they got eaten right away.

Photos: Magazine Scans – New & Old Scans

I’ve added over a dozen new magazine scans to the gallery of our favorite girl. Most are of the last couple months in leu of Tatiana’s Emmy nomination. Thanks to AlikKat for some of these.

2016: Entertainment Weekly
2016: New York Lifestyles
2016: The Hollywood Reporter
2016: SFX
2016: TV Guide
2016: Variety
2016: World Screen
2016: Metro Life
2016: El Diario NTR
2015: Entertainment Weekly

Press: Toronto International Film Festival Unveils Canadian Lineup – Two Lovers And A Bear featured!

The selections include Xavier Dolan’s ‘It’s Only the End of the World’ and the Tatiana Maslany-starrer ‘Two Lovers and a Bear.’

The Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday unveiled the bulk of its Canadian movie lineup for its upcoming 41st edition.

The fest’s special presentations sidebar will feature North American premieres for Cannes titles like Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, starring Marion Cotillard; the Bill Paxton and Colm Feore-starring teen thriller Mean Dreams from director Nathan Morlando; and War Witch director Kim Nguyen’s Two Lovers and a Bear, which stars Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan.

Also booked into the special presentations program is a North American premiere for Ann Marie Fleming’s animated feature Window Horses, which bowed in Annecy and has Sandra Oh lending her voice, and world premieres for Bruce McDonald’s Weirdos and April Mullen’s lesbian romancer Below Her Mouth.

Other films getting world premieres at TIFF 2016 include Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence and Alanis Obomsawin’s We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, in the masters sidebar, and Fred Peabody’s All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and The Spirit of I.F. Stone, about U.S. journalists like Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald; Nicholas Pencier’s Black Code; and Oscar-winner Brigitte Berman’s The River of My Dreams, screening as part of TIFF’s documentary section.

The festival earlier revealed that it will screen Unless, a Canadian-Irish co-production, starring Oscar nominee Catherine Keener and Hannah Gross; Mark Williams’ The Headhunter’s Calling; and Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival will kick off Sept. 8 with Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven remake, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, and end Sept. 18 with the Hailee Steinfeld-starrer The Edge of Seventeen.

Mention  ·  Press  ·  Projects  ·  Two Lovers and a Bear  ·  Videos

Press/Video: Two Lovers and a Bear Trailer

After a promising initial line-up, the Toronto International Film Festival has delivered more titles with their full Canadian slate. Among the line-up is Xavier Dolan‘s It’s Only the End of the World, Bruce MacDonald‘s new feature Weirdos, Deepa Mehta‘s Anatomy of Violence, as well as Two Lovers and a Bear, starring Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan, which we have the first trailer for today.

We said in our review from Cannes, “Kim Nguyen’s Two Lovers and a Bear is a film that suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. Like an indie playlist stuck on constant shuffle, unapologetically reveling in a sort of manic unclassifiable genre. This isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, but, for some reason, Nguyen’s scattershot tonal shifts — which hop between a romance on the rocks; a self-serious study of grieving; and a surreal buddy comedy — can prove quite jarring. The film is, at its core, a look at how we choose to deal with grief and past trauma. Whether that happens to be with booze, destroying an arctic outpost, or even talking to a deadpan polar bear is another matter.”

Check out the trailer below for the film.

Press: Meet Queue – Behind This Year’s Most Versatile Emmy Nominee, ‘Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany

It’s finally that time of the year — that time in late summer when it’s socially acceptable for us to gab about the Emmys. Though we’re over a month out from the actual ceremony (September 18, people. Mark your calendars), this year’s crop of Emmy nominations has already given us enough material to obsessively dissect for weeks. We’ve already told you who we thought should have gotten nominations and which snubs were most painful, but today we’re going to focus on one of the silver linings of 2016’s Emmys — Tatiana Maslany’s Outstanding Lead Actress nomination for Orphan Black.

If it wasn’t for Maslany’s jaw-dropping and nuanced performances as the series’ 11 clones, we wouldn’t be talking about Orphan Black. Graeme Manson’s sci-fi drama is smart and compelling all in its own right, but it’s honestly Maslany’s inspired performance that sells the series. Though the Emmys have just woken up to Maslany’s acting expertise, we’ve been her fan for a while now. Consider this your streaming “meet cute” to this incredible actress’ work. Depending on whether or not Maslany wins her much-deserved Emmy, this list will either leave you happily slow-clapping to her greatness or screaming at your TV come September.

Heartland (2008 – 2010)
Stop everything you’re doing. The acting goddess behind every clone from Sarah Manning to Helena starred in a tween drama about horses. Based on the book series of the same name, Heartland was a Canadian and U.S. series that followed Amy (Amber Marshall), a teenager who chooses to tame horses after the death of her mom. Maslany played Amy’s romantic rival-turned-friend Kit, a cowgirl who loves barrel racing.

Being Erica (2009 – 2011)
Anyone who’s seen Orphan Black knows that Maslany has no problem going dark, but the actress showed this ability early on in this Canadian dramedy. The series follows the titular Erica (Erin Karpluk), a woman who starts seeing a therapist with the ability to send her back in time. Trippy, right? Later in the series, Maslany plays Dr. Erica’s first official patient, the long-missing, heroin-addicted daughter of Erica’s therapist.

Picture Day (2012)
This is the indie dramedy that netted Maslany her first award for breakout performer. The dramedy has a pretty straightforward plot — a rebellious teen gets caught between adolescence and adulthood as two guys compete for her attention. However, it’s Maslany herself that carries this film.

World Without End (2012)
Maslany proved that she could handle real horror in this medieval mini-series. A semi-continuation set 150 years after The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End takes place in England during the 1300s, chronicling the lives of ordinary citizens as they suffer through the Hundred Years’ War, the Black Death, and all other terrors. Maslany plays Sister Meir, a nun who witnesses something very scandalous.

Orphan Black (2013 – 2016)
It’s insane that Orphan Black has been on the air for three years now, and Maslany is just now getting her Emmy nod. The stellar sci-fi series follows con artist Sarah Manning (Maslany, of course), a con artist who slowly learns that she’s one of several clones. It’s a creepy and compelling feminist masterpiece that shows off just how incredible Maslany is. We bow down to you, queen.

Press: Five shows to watch to prepare for the Emmys

Last week the Emmy nominations came and went with barely any surprises. “#Game of Thrones” was nominated for Best Drama, “Modern Family” was nominated for Best Comedy, and we’ll see the normal faces grace the stage once again. There were no mobs yelling “snub!” on Twitter and there wasn’t a hashtag like #OscarsSoWhite, so maybe this year will go over smoothly.

Being under-prepared for the Emmy’s is pretty embarrassing. You’re caught whispering, “Who’s that?” as Tatiana Maslany’s characters flash across the screen or even why everyone is obsessed with a show about O.J. Simpson. Nominations are announced a little over two months ahead of time so you have the opportunity to catch up on the entire season (10 whole episodes!) of “Game of Thrones” or binge watch Aziz’ Ansari’s “Master of None.”
Five best shows from the Emmy’s

To not be that guy on Twitter asking about every actor and show, here are the five best shows to watch to prepare for the Emmys:

Mr. Robot: USA’s new drama won at the Golden Globes, but people are still wary whether the hacker drama can stack up against the likes of “House of Cards”, “Game of Thrones”, and “Homeland.” Rami Malek, the lead anti-social computer programmer, also got a nod for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

Black-ish: Up for Outstanding Comedy Series, this ABC show isn’t necessarily all comedic. The episode that gave “Black-ish” the boost it needed to be nominated was one in which family members watch the news about the killing of an unarmed black man by the police.

Orphan Black: By now, Tatiana Maslany’s name should be a household name. In its fourth season, this BBC America show has Maslany playing more than 6 characters at a time, all individualized to make you forget that this is the same woman. The show almost feels like a conspiracy theorist documentary and a questioning movie about scientific ethics all rolled into one neat little drama series.

Master of None: Seriously, there’s only ten episodes of Aziz Ansari’s Netflix original series.

The People v O.J. Simpson: High expectations were placed on FX’s miniseries from the get go and it surpassed them with six acting and three writing nominations.

Press: ‘Orphan Black’ Spoilers: Tatiana Maslany Talks Rachel’s Fate In Season 5

“Orphan Black” will wrap up after its fifth season. While the news is saddening for fans, the people behind the hit BBC America series assures that the end will be satisfying.

Reiterating the reason they decided to end the series after the upcoming season, series co-creator Graeme Manson said, as quoted by CBS8: “We had five seasons in mind. The thing we don’t want to do is get soft in the middle. We really think it’s cooler to cancel yourself or peter out.”

Speaking of what fans can expect to see when the new season starts, Manson told Entertainment Weekly that it will continue immediately where the previous season left.

“It’s gonna be another fast-paced pick-up,” the executive producer added.

Tatiana Maslany, who’s the lead star of the show, also shared a few details about one of her characters, Rachel.

The actress said that playing the character has been “so fun” in the sense that Rachel has changed a lot since the first season. Maslany, however, did not reveal where the character will go in the upcoming season.

“I don’t know where she’s headed,” the actress said. “I don’t know what’s next for her – if she does ultimately gain the power that she so desires or if she will find something different – but I think [there’s] a lot of change that we’re gonna see.”

There is also a chance that fans will see more of Krystal (Maslany), since she has become quite a favorite for them.

“We all love Krystal and she’s become an audience favorite so we certainly want to bring her back next year,” Manson said. “And her character hangs on this great question of, do we or don’t we tell her she’s a clone? Or will she or won’t she figure out she’s a clone? And that’s a question for us to keep asking next year.”

“Orphan Black” season 5 has not been given a premiere date.

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