Q&A

Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany on Playing Multiple Roles, Talking to Tennis Balls, and One Wild Sex Scene


Tomorrow night, sci-fi nerds are going to fall in love with Tatiana Maslany. And then they're going to fall in love all over again. And again. And again. In BBC America's mindbending new thriller Orphan Black, Maslany plays Sarah, a British swindler who sees her well-manicured doppelgänger jump in front of a train and then quickly endeavors to steal her identity and empty her substantial bank account. Oh, and sleep with her boyfriend. The perfect crime—if only it didn't lead Sarah down a rabbit hole that reveals she's one of a group of clones. What follows is one heck of a one-woman show, with Maslany playing multiple characters who hail from the U.K., North America, and Germany, to name a few.

The Canadian Maslany came to the Details office to talk about acting alongside the greatest costar of all—herself.

DETAILS: The show involves a lot of you arguing with…yourself. How do you film the scenes with multiple clones?

TATIANA MASLANY: In the first pass, we have a body double stand in. And the camera—it's this awesome thing called a Technodolly—will memorize all the movements in the scene and repeat them automatically every time we reshoot with me as a different character. Then we take the double out, and when I shoot, there's a tennis ball, an X taped on the wall, or a dot where my clones are standing, and I have to remember where they move throughout the scene. I also have an earwig in my ear that plays recordings of my other characters' lines. So I'm basically talking to the air the whole time.

DETAILS: So the cameras are almost sentient? Isn't that how Skynet started?

TATIANA MASLANY: We thought of that, so we kept them well lubricated. They were happy.

DETAILS: Which is the best scene partner—the tennis ball, the X, or the dot?

TATIANA MASLANY: Definitely the tennis ball. Sometimes the crew would draw a little smiley face or a sad face on it, so it looks like a little head!

DETAILS: Sarah is British, but her dead clone is North American. Not only do you do a very convincing British accent, you do a great British girl with a British accent faking a North American accent that sometimes slips back into a British accent. Break that down for us.

TATIANA MASLANY: Well, obviously Sarah wouldn't be able to fake an American accent perfectly, so she had to slip up sometimes. That was fun because it added an extra bit of tension to play with. I worked with a vocal coach. The London vocal placement is in a different place than where we speak from. We sort of speak from the middle of our mouths, and the London placement is more open and comes from the back of the throat. So when Sarah's faking an American accent, I tried to do it from a London placement.

DETAILS: Do you ever practice in real life?

TATIANA MASLANY: Sometimes I'll go into a shop and speak in a different accent to see if I can pull it off. But then somebody will be like, "Where did you say you were from again…?" And then I panic and my accent dissolves, and I pretend like I wasn't doing it in the first place.

DETAILS: Your character is a British wild child. You've worked in London and you visit often. Do you get Method and go wild too?

TATIANA MASLANY: Oh, it's a different thing over there. I've partied so hard in London because they just go all night, and the drinking doesn't stop until six in the morning. I've danced so hard there. They have the best music—it starts with hip-hop and by the end of the night it's trance music and you're just vibing out. I'm actually going to be in London during the show's premiere, but my parents are going to call me and tell me all about it.

DETAILS: You have a wild sex scene in the first episode. That's going to be an awkward conversation.

TATIANA MASLANY: I know! They told me that their friends are getting together to have a party to watch it. I thought, "Oh, shiiit." My opa and oma are going to see it! You don't think about that while you're filming. Somehow my opa didn't cross my mind during a sex scene.

—Nojan Aminosharei, Details entertainment editor

• • •


Also on Details.com:
Mad Men's Matthew Weiner Discusses Season 6's Surprises and the Thrill of Shooting His First Feature Film With Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis
Twitter Star Kelly Oxford on Life as a Hollywood Screenwriter, Her New Memoir, and Why Men Don't Like Oprah
Girls' Christopher Abbott on How to Be a Leading Man, His SXSW Success, and Not Overthinking Roles

Photo courtesy of BBC America.
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