Press: Tatiana Maslany And Tom Cullen On Being In Love On And Off Screen
A conversation with the stars of ‘The Other Half’
In The Other Half, a bracingly vérité romantic drama, real-life couple Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen star as two lost souls who find each other and must deal with the aftermath—for better and worse—of such an intense collision. Cullen’s Nickie masks an all-consuming grief with a tough-guy exterior, while Maslany’s Emily, an aspiring painter, suffers from bipolar disorder. How these two come together and try to build something lasting and real, is the movie’s heartbeat. To make the film, with first-time director Joey Klein, both Cullen and Maslany took time in between their busy TV schedules (she as the star of Orphan Black, he as part of the Downton Abbey ensemble) to co-executive produce and help refine the film’s script alongside Klein. And as two people who spend most of their relationship apart, they relished the time working together. We recently caught up with the couple at SXSW, where The Other Half premiered to great acclaim, to discuss their movie’s complicated love story, falling in love IRL, and balancing a personal relationship with a working one.
This is a passion project for both of you. How long have you been involved with it?
Tatiana Maslany: For like five years and Joey, the director, has been writing it for ten. It was a long time coming, and a lot of different tryouts and versions of it.
Tom Cullen: I think as Joey’s gotten to know us better as very good friends, he’s changed the script, too.
How did you meet Joey?
TM: I met Joey working on a movie. We were both acting in it. We just got to talking on set one day about acting, and about work and art, and we really bonded. Then he offered me to read the script, to see what I thought about it, and he’d seen some of my work and he’d seen Tom’s work. Tom and I had just started dating about that time.
Were you guys friends first or did you guys fall into it fast like your characters?
TC: It was pretty fast, wasn’t it?
TM: Yeah. We were living in Budapest [Hungary] for like six months for our TV series, so we had a lot of time to just bond and see the city together.
TC: Yeah, it was a very romantic six months.
TM: We went to music festivals and went dancing.
You’re saying the script changed after you guys came onboard. Can you tell me a little bit about that process of working with Joey and really informing the characters of the script?
TM: Anything we thought, anything we felt, anything we wanted to go deeper with or change or alter or explore differently, he was so up for it. He’s the most legalist director I’ve ever worked with, in terms of allowing for shifts and giving over trust and control to other people and taking on new ideas. Yet he has a very specific vision.
TC: Yeah. I think the more that he got to know us, the more he wanted to push us as actors and to see what our extremities were.
In what way did he push you?
TC: He pushed it in the story. He created two really complex characters, quite dark characters, troubled characters, and also, there’s this fire in both of them. I think in that way, he wanted to see every facet of human emotion, and I think that he really wanted to see us move through that. It was fun. We shot the film in 16 days, and it was a real fast ride where we just jumped in headfirst. It was a thrilling experience.
TM: I got to work opposite Tom, who inspires me and riles me up and knows me so well, so I feel safe. There was a lot of trust in play. I think you can overanalyze it too much, and these two characters were so burdened and so heavy, but I think we all have that in us, it’s just acknowledging it. It’s acknowledging that our emotional life is vast and it’s always there at the surface. We all have really good poker faces, but we’re all feeling a shitload of things and we’re all scared, and we’re all searching for love and acceptance and somebody to go [to]. “I see you and I love what I see.” You know what I mean? I think it’s an easy thing, but at the same time key. It’s very universal.
Tom, tell me about Nicky’s look in the film. The ’50s shirts—why don’t men dress like that more often?
TC: I wish I had the gall to dress like that!
You should do it.
TC: That’s how I wanted to dress I think.
TM: You still have those shirts…
TC: I do, yeah. That was a really specific choice because he’s lost his brother in such awful circumstances, where there’s no reason why it’s happened. There’s nobody. There’s no conviction. He’s just gone, disappeared. I lost a friend this year. I remember the feeling of waking up the next day and getting into the tube in London and being so angry at everyone for not understanding that somebody had died. They didn’t know how amazing that person was. For Nickie, he has paused and is stuck in that place. He has become completely disillusioned with the world. He sees it as this fake, unjust place, and he wants to reject it. He’s dressing a certain way just to fuck [with] you. Don’t come anywhere near me, don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, I’m different, I’m hard, and I will destroy you. Of course, underneath all that, he’s just a little boy who needs saving and help. I looked a lot at ’50s London—both anti-establishment, but renegade by generations, fighting against something. The rock and roll that’s coming out of the second world war. Punk rockers in the U.K. rebelling against bachelorism and capitalism.
Is their relationship saving them, or is the relationship actually hurting them because they have not had the time to deal with their issues?
TC: Really good question.
TM: I think that’s exactly the kind of thing that we’d want people to question and wonder about. I like the idea that Emily and Nicky feel like a destined relationship and at the same time so dangerous. From the outside, they look like the worst enablers of each other, and yet at the same time the best.
TC: They’re the only people who get each other.
TM: Yeah, they get each other, and yet they also push each others’ buttons, but they can also defuse each other. There’s something really volatile about the two of them.
TC: I think the reason they fall in love is because they recognize something in each other that satisfies something inside themselves. For Nicky, he meets somebody that gets him. He sees a level of pain, but understands and is patient with her, and she brings out something in him that he thought was missing.
Since you were working together while maintaining a relationship offscreen, did you make it a point to spend some time apart?
TC: I mean, we always have fun. We’re best friends, it’s very respectful, and I think we’re very good at getting each other.
TM: We’re long-distance so we get a lot of alone time in there. Like when we don’t have a lot of time, we freak out.
TC: Alone time sucks. I don’t want any alone time!
TM: We have lots of time apart, and we’re both very independent people and working and doing our thing, and really support each other in that. At the same time, we really need time together and make sure that that’s a priority, too, because I think in this industry specifically, it can become the only important thing.
Are you guys going to work together again?
TC: Oh, definitely.
Press: Regina’s DANIEL MASLANY plays struggling trumpet player in new CBC show
The following article is about Tatiana’s younger brother DANIEL Maslany. I thought I would share.
A new CBC show called Four in the Morning features a Regina actor with a familiar last name.
Daniel Maslany, who is the younger brother of Emmy-nominated Orphan Black actress Tatiana Maslany, stars in the show which airs Fridays at 9 p.m. CST on CBC television. Maslany grew up in Regina and is now living in Toronto.
The show bills itself as “an unconventional comedy spiked with a touch of magical realism. The show follows four friends in their twenties as they navigate life at the unpredictable, emotional, but illuminative hour of 4 a.m.”
Maslany stars alongside Lola Tash, Michelle Mylet and Mazin Elsadig.
Maslany said he relates to his character, Bondurant, a performer and Prairie boy who has moved to Toronto.
“He’s a struggling trumpet player who is very passionate and eccentric and theatrical and says what he feels as he feels it in the moment,” he said.
Maslany comes from a theatre background, so he said he was really excited when reading the scripts because it’s written like a play: fast-paced and sometimes bizarre.
“They were really specific early on in the audition process that they wanted it fast and big and sharp: kind of like performance style,” he said. “So I went into a kind of caricature of people that I knew or characters that I had seen before. And it really is maybe more theatrical than characters I’ve played in theatre.”
Maslany said his family is excited about his new project. He said art runs through the family, adding his brother is an illustrator.
“We’re all very close and supportive of each other in our creative endeavours,” he said, adding that he practiced lines with his sister when he was first auditioning for the role.
To go along with the debut of Four in the Morning, Maslany said he’s also in an upcoming movie called Goliath. The filming just wrapped up and the movie’s set to hit screens in fall 2017.
Press/Photos: Tatiana Maslany On ‘Orphan Black’ Diversity: “It’s Something I’m Most Proud Of On Our Show” – AwardsLine
BBC America’s acclaimed sci-fi series Orphan Black rests on the shoulders of series star Tatiana Maslany. Ostensibly a story about a shadowy corporate monolith and the consequences of illegal human cloning, in the details, it’s a character study focused largely on a set of identical female clones—11 of them by the end of Season 4—all of which are played by Maslany. Her uncanny ability to play every character so distinctly that it can feel to viewers like separate actresses in each part has won widespread acclaim and a passionate fan base drawn as much by her performance as by the show’s depiction of people from all walks of life, and various sexual orientations.
“I’m really proud that our show never really vilifies anybody, that everyone has a humanity and that everyone has vulnerability, and needs, and wants love, and deserves love, regardless of what they’ve done or who they are,” says Maslany about the show, and the intensely positive reaction from fans. Now looking at her second Emmy nomination for the role(s), Maslany talked to AwardsLine about Orphan Black’s devoted fans, the way TV is changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society, and being recognized in a crowded and competitive field.
This being your second Emmy nomination for the role, the interesting thing is that it’s for an often overlooked genre—sci-fi. What are your thoughts on being recognized, along with the show itself, by the Television Academy?
We’re really lucky to get this recognition because I do think there’s a stigma around science fiction. But so many shows that are science fiction speak about the world in a way that’s really subversive, and I think that TV is changing in general, that the stigma about television is changing. It’s really open to more complicated storytelling, and the structure of it allows for a lot of in-depth character progression and exploration. We’re just lucky that we’ve made any kind of splash—especially because right now, television is so strong.
I’ve always felt, also, that our show kind of transcends the genre. The conceit is sci-fi, but it focuses more on the human aspect, what it is to be human, what is it to be an individual; how do you exist as an individual in a system that seeks to commodify you? We’re lucky that we’ve hit onto something in that balance.
Your performance seems as though you’re asking, “What does it mean to be 11 humans?” If someone is eliminated, for instance—being trained by years of television viewing—one’s first thought is, “Who are they going to get to replace that actor?” But of course, they don’t have to, since it’s you. What’s it like for you playing these roles with such distinction that they feel like they’re being played by completely different actors?
That’s a testament to the other actors on the show, too, who, the second I walk on set as a different character, are imbuing me to that character, so it’s really a joy on my part to get to wear different shoes like that. I’ve always loved character work and have never had the opportunity to do it so much—definitely not as much as I get to do it on this show. But I feel like it’s the most natural thing for an actor to want to do, to inhabit different lives, and it’s a total joy. It’s amazing the audience believes it, that they allow us to do it. It could have fallen on its face so easily because it’s kind of a risky thing. I love what makes people tick, what makes people move differently, how our bodies reflect emotional lives, our past, our secrets. For me, it’s so fun to get to explore that sort of acting exercise in such an in-depth way. The writing is so strong for each of the voices, it doesn’t feel off ever. It’s a testament to all the parts of our show that people believe it.
How long did it take you to get a handle on who these characters were going to be, and what was that process like?
I still feel like there are days when I get to set where I’m like, “I don’t know who this character is,” especially if I’ve been playing someone else for a week. If I’m with Sarah for a week, switching into Alison is always a bit of a shock. Or playing Cosima and then I change into Helena. I think my body has started to understand the shorthand, but it is also a degree of trusting that I know them and that they’re in my body at this point, so to speak. Coming back to the writing, allowing that to lead me, just being a kid who can believe they’re an astronaut or a dinosaur, going into your imagination: It’s taken me a while to trust that, and not feel like I have to do 900 things, you know, like wear my lucky underwear to make sure that works. (Laughs)
Orphan Black has a devoted fan base and has also been championed by critics, and something I’ve found interesting is the reaction. Before you received your first nomination, many considered it a snub. What was it like when you were finally recognized, in light of those strong reactions?
The recognition was such a shock in the first place, but the outrage was the most shocking for me. That people actually cared whether I was nominated or not, that they felt they had a stake in it, I think that was such a testament to our fans who are so supportive of us. They’re the only reason we have a show because they sort of forced people to watch (laughs). The critics have been good too. We’re really lucky to have been championed by people who have some influence on what people watch. For me, it felt like it was for the fans that that nomination came through; it really felt like a communal thing, it was for us that the show got recognized. But by no means did I ever expect it, or seek it out, or think I deserved it. It’s a world I don’t necessarily feel part of. I’m just baffled to be in the company of actors like Robin Wright—it’s wild to me. These are women who’ve been working for years, who have such a body of work and such a legacy, and are changing television. It’s just really surreal to be in that company.
One of the things that fans have responded to is the way the show very matter-of-factly treats the diversity of the human experience, particularly in terms of sexual orientation. It’s also very sympathetic to people whose lives aren’t exactly normal. What’s that like playing such a cross-section of people, and do you feel that there’s an importance to that within the show?
It’s something that I’m most proud of on our show, especially that it’s through the eyes of a woman and the experiences of a woman. But also, I feel like nowadays it’s so important for us to remember the things that connect us, and the things that make us human, and the same, as opposed to this idea that we’re different and should be separate. There’s such a divide right now in terms of politics, in terms of people. There’s so much fear of the other, so much hatred. So I’m really proud that our show never really vilifies anybody, that everyone has a humanity and that everyone has vulnerability, and needs, and wants love, and deserves love, regardless of what they’ve done or who they are.
The way that we treat sexuality is something I’m extremely proud of and that I’m very political about as well. One of my favorite lines of our show is when Cosima says, “My sexuality isn’t the most interesting thing about me.” That to me is so important to drive home, to remember that as much as Cosima represents a large community of people, she is more than her sexuality. She’s defined by her intelligence and her desire to learn and her knowledge of science, her huge compassion and her huge heart, her flaws and her selfishness. She doesn’t just sit as this archetype and that is something that I feel really proud of and excited by.
This matter-of-fact portrayal of sexual orientation is a recent phenomenon. Do you think there’s something about the way television has been working, especially over the last decade, that makes it more likely?
There’s a real bravery to storytelling right now—people are kind of fed up with misrepresentations of women, with the LGBT community, with minorities. These groups are so underrepresented. We’re so used to seeing men as the default perspective, and that’s just changing intrinsically. You look at Transparent and Orange is the New Black, perspectives that we’ve never been privy to on television, and now they’re front and center, and they’re capturing people’s imagination, and making them think and feel. I feel that television is definitely taking cues from people, but at the same time, the fact that we’re so lucky that our fans watch our show, feel brave enough to be themselves because of it, because they see themselves represented on television. I don’t know what came first but there’s a real desire to be seen right now and I do think television is reflecting that change, and that loud volume of voice that’s coming from people who never had a voice before.
You were raised speaking several languages. Does the fact that you were multilingual from a young age inform your ability to play these multiple roles?
It definitely exposed me to the way people relate to each other differently in different languages, the words that we use, the way we communicate, the way we express ourselves, and I feel like it has stimulated my imagination. My parents are both multilingual, as are my brothers, my family. Languages were always part of our lives. It was very helpful in terms of expression.
Looking back on Season 4, is there a particular episode, moment, or character that stands out as your favorite performance?
I’m so lucky that I get to do this—like Crystal, this more comedic, arch character I would never be cast in otherwise. And also Rachel, who’s gone through this huge transformation, she has power, scrambling to get back to the person she used to be and find herself in the midst of all this adversity. Sarah had Episode 7 last season, where it felt like a little mini movie; we just got to live with her a little bit and see what it’s like to be her, to carry that weight and not want to have to carry it. It was fun to watch her go back to her old ways and be the sort of selfish, free spirit character she always has been.
Regardless of which character you spend the most time inhabiting, which do you like playing the most?
That’s an impossible question, but it’s usually the one that’s in front of me. But I love Helena, I love playing Alison, I love playing Crystal — three character types I’ve never got to play.
• Photo Session #072
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?
Maslany: 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.