Photo credit Dave Gustav Anderson
It’s only been about four months since BBC America premiered the SF thriller “Orphan Black,” but it’s already become a cult sensation — and the full room and roaring crowd for the cast and creators at the series’ panel at San Diego Comic-Con was proof of that.
Okay, if you haven’t watched “Orphan Black” yet, stop reading this post, as it’s too good to spoil for you. It’s on DVD as of last week, it’s really awesome, and you’ll be completely obsessed by the time you’re done with the 10 episodes. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
Led by star Tatiana Maslany (Sarah, Beth, Katja, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, etc.) alongside Jordan Gavaris (Felix), Dylan Bruce (Paul), and co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, the “Orphan Black” team revealed some secrets of Season One, tentative plans for Season Two, and the occasional bit of musical ability. Here’s some highlights!
Surprising absolutely no one, Maslany revealed, I went into hiding when I was done with season one” because “I was so exhausted,” and was “running on adrenaline” for the panel. She had no complaints about her role(s), though, calling the series “exhilarating.”
Photo credit Dave Gustav Anderson
The panelists (minus Maslany) were asked to pick their favorite clone. Unsurprisingly, Alison was a big favorite, with Cosima a close second. The real Cosima, the creators revealed, is the scientific advisor on the show. She is probably not a clone.
Bruce said he still wasn’t sure where Paul’s loyalties lie, but felt his character was very “conflicted” and demonstrated his “Batman voice” for the character. Later, during a discussion of how important the Tumblr and fansite followings were for the show, he revealed that he Googled “Paul’s Rear End.” When he found his naked posterior online, “I called my mom and said, ’I’ve made it.’ She said, ’Son, I’m so proud.’”
Maslany also admitted Tumblr was how she knew the show was catching on – “The artwork is so amazing! The critical essays that have been written about it are insane,” she said. “There’s feminist critics writing about how it explores the individuality of women, and it’s very near to my heart.”
Maslany gets into character(s) by creating different playlists for different clones. Among them: Sarah requires things like the Clash; Cosima is into more indy/electric music (“she’s been known to do a rave dance minus the glowsticks”); for the infamous glue-gun torture scene with Alison, she listened to “A Boy Like That” from “West Side Story”, and typically uses a lot of showtunes to get into character for the unraveling soccer mom/clone.
Gavaris shocked fans by revealing a) he’s not really British, and b) has some pipes on him with a short rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Sparks Fly.” Like Bruce, he got into discussion about his character’s occasional exposure of his rear end: “He finds pants very confining, he doesn’t want to be boxed in. It’s the childlike innocence that is Felix – you know, like how when you run around without clothes when we’re two.”
Co-creator John Fawcett got Gavaris to admit that he volunteered to be naked in the audition, which the actor copped to, admitting he was “very straight-laced” as a teenager, and wanted to be daring in the style of actors in 1970s films by such directors as Robert Altman and Terrence Malick. He slipped into Felix’s accent as he recalled the audition: “I will show it all! I’ll do whatever you want to do! Full frontal!” He further admitted that he’d received a racy Facebook message from “a very nice man.”
Maslany admitted it was “so hard” for her to say goodbye to the psychotic, Jello-loving Helena. “It’s fun to go to that place as an actor with totally unsocialized behavior and all those impulses we have in real life but don’t act on.”
The creators are in the midst of writing Season Two, which was given a premiere date of April 2014, to huge cheers from the audience. They’ll be back prepping the season on August 12 and shooting on Sept.23, with the first two episodes to premiere back-to-back. The process for writing the show is very intense (Season One’s finale was only done about a week and a half before it aired), and they spent a week at Fawcett’s cabin brainstorming the second season.
So, where do they get all those wonderful clones? Fawcett said that he’d had his eye on Maslany after she appeared in “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed,” a film he worked on. “I kind of had the sense she could do anything,” and she proved us right in spades.” This was important, as her casting represented “about half the female cast.” As for the technical aspects of doing all that clone action, they offered this video that we’ve embedded below.
Maslany in turn credited the creators with bringing the characters to life on the page. “Alison speaks so much differently than Helena speaks, while Cosima is fascinated with the world and fascinated with people, and wants to reach people and communicate an idea, so her physicality is all about painting pictures It starts with the writing, and I let my imagination run from there.”
Though the first three-clone scene was “intense,” Maslany, the cast and creators all agreed that some of the most difficult scenes to shoot were the most emotional ones, from Helena in a cage to Sarah’s daughter Kira in the hospital. “A lot of the arc is that family core, so that was a very intense day,” Gavaris said.
So, what’s coming up for Season Two? Cosima’s fate is still “up in the air” according to the creators, which inspired much worried murmuring amongst the fans in the room. Co-Creator Graeme Manson said that the pacing of the show is relentlessly forward, so there’s no room for a flashback episode with fallen clones Beth and Katja yet…though we might see that in Season Three.
And of course, there’ll be more clones! What types of clones would Maslany like to play next? She admits she’s scared of trying to capture a Scottish or Irish accent, but is interested in “a lot of European dialects” as well as such regional U.S. dialects as New York, Boston and Maine. “It’s endless! I’m up for whatever.”