The plum role Tatiana Maslany landed on the Canadian-American science fiction TV series Orphan Black has catapulted the Regina-born actress’s career to a new level.
Maslany plays a street-smart British orphan named Sarah Manning who realizes she has numerous identical versions of herself — subjects of a top-secret, illegal medical experiment — in the series shown on BBC America and on Space in Canada. She also plays her many clones – each a different character with unique patterns of speech and movement.
“It’s such a high concept show and the gimmick of it could go so wrong, but the writing is such that it holds it up. I feel like I’m so lucky to be bolstered by the incredible supporting cast on the show,” Maslany said in an interview with CBC’s Q cultural affairs show.
She says it’s been a huge personal challenge and an acting challenge to take on so many different characters. But her accomplishment in Orphan Black has caught the eyes of her peers and the critics, as well as fans who write to her from all over the world.
Maslany was the surprise winner of the trophy for best actress in a drama at the Critic’s Choice Awards earlier this month, beating out the likes of Claire Danes, Vera Farmiga, Julianna Margulies, Elisabeth Moss and Keri Russell. Maslany says she was shaking as she accepted the award.
“It was such a surreal moment. Just being in the room with these actors,” she said.
Maslany has starred in Canadian movies such as Grown Up Movie Star and Picture Day, current screening in cinemas and she’s had roles in TV series such as Heartland and Being Erica. But Orphan Black feels different, she said.
“Taking the job and stepping into this character and these characters, felt like a shift. Just getting that part felt like a change, because the character’s a lot more grown up than anyone I’ve been lucky enough to play in the past – I always get cast as a 12-year-old,” she told Q.
Maslany talks about her coming role in Jason Priestley-directed film Cas & Dylan, opposite Richard Dreyfuss and how growing up in Regina helped fire her imagination as an actress.