Orphan Black Interview

We speak to the creators of BBC America’s critically acclaimed clone thriller Orphan Black

Get ready, UK – one of the most acclaimed new science fiction shows of the year is finally making its way to our fair shores on Friday 20 September, courtesy of BBC Three. BBC America’s Orphan Black , a human-cloning conspiracy thriller, centres on a set of clones played by actress Tatiana Maslany – Brit con artist Sarah, wacky Canadian homemakerAlison,US science whiz Cosima, and Ukrainian wild cardHelena. We caught up with the show’s creators – John Fawcett and Graeme Manson – and discussed the road Sarah and her sisters travel through the show’s first ten-episode season, and where it will lead them when season two debuts next April…

SFX: How does Tatiana make each clone different? Does she have any tricks to make sure she’s in the right head?

Manson: She does. To keep all of that straight and to be able to change gears often in the same day, she’ll have to change makeup, wardrobe, everything, and come back as another character.

Fawcett: For example… If she’s doing a scene with two girls within the same scene, she’ll start as, say, Sarah. We’ll shoot everything with her as Sarah, and she’ll speak with the British accent all the time, even when we’re chatting – when the camera’s not rolling she is fully in character. When it comes time to go for the change, she’ll use that hour or so to start getting herself into the headspace of whomever she’s changing into. If it’s Alison or whoever it is. She’s got music. She’s got playlists for each of the characters, and you can often see her off to the side – she’s got dances. Each character’s got their own dance.

Manson: You should see the Cosima dance, it’s a beautiful thing!

Which clones are hard to work with?

Fawcett: Helena’s a little difficult. Helena’s a little bit crae-crae. And she’s a bit scary, she can be a bit intense. But part of the fun of Helena, and the difficultly of directing her, is that there’s a little Encino Man going on there. You know what I mean? I don't think she’s ever seen a microwave before.

Our Orphan Black interview continues on page 2 (warning: season one spoilers from here on)

Season one ends on a cliffhanger. What can you tease us about season two? Will we meet more clones?

Manson: I think it’s safe to say we definitely are invested in the idea of having a new clone or two in season two.

Fawcett: Although we just met Rachel at the end of season one. Her and Sarah are gonna be going pretty much head to head to start the show [next year]. We’re gonna hit the ground running. We’ve got a really interesting character to unpack. Probably before we meet someone new.

Will we see more of Sarah’s daughter, Kira, and her foster mother, Mrs S?

Fawcett: Yeah, definitely. Kira is Sarah’s heart and Sarah is back in a large part where we met her at the beginning of season one. She’s not with her daughter, she’s got limited resources, she’s on the run. So we’re going right back there, and as for Mrs S, we just love Maria Doyle Kennedy. She’s a terrific actor, and she’s always been a sleeper character for us. So we know that there’s more coming.

Manson: Mrs S has always been important. Mrs S is a character that has surprises and secrets and is important to the mythology of our show. We know that Kira is special, and Kira figures into our series period. She is a series character, she’s not gonna go away anytime soon. Hopefully she’ll be a teenager by the time we wrap up the series!

Orphan Black begins with a double bill on BBC Three at 9pm, Friday 20 September.

Joe McCabe

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