'Orphan Black' Co-Creator, Stars on the New Male Clones

Co-creator John Fawcett and stars Tatiana Maslany and Ari Millen weigh in on what to expect from season three
Courtesy of Amazon

When Orphan Black returns for its third season, the clone dynamic will be getting a major shake-up: as the show revealed in the season-two finale, there are a gaggle of male clones (played by Ari Millen) out there.

"I think Project Castor was always part of our original plan from the very beginning: there was going to be a male faction in the overall puzzle," Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "In the process of season two, we cast Ari in the role of Mark, but that character was interesting, because originally we were going to kill him. But it was a little bit of an organic process: who was going to be the face of Project Castor? And partway throughout season two, we realized our answer, and that's how that came to be."

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And while Millen only learned of the true depth of his role well into production of the season, the timing worked to allow him to observe Tatiana Maslany (who stars as clones Sarah, Alison, Cosima and Helena, among others) tackle one of her most technically complicated season-two shots. "When I found out, it was about the time of shooting the clone dance party, and I just watched her do that. That was no small feat," Millen said. "I think acting is a private process, and we make our own decision, but when you have someone who is doing something so unique and so technical, you just watch. That's what I took away. I saw her ease and her just taking time to breathe and just do one at a time. So I think that's the greatest lesson I learned from her."

Maslany (who was ill and appeared at the panel via satellite) had her own praise for Millen, and what he has brought to the show. "It's amazing for me," she gushed. "Ari … the first day I worked with him was the diner scene in season two. We had done improv together in high school [in competition], so we kind of knew each other. Sitting opposite him and the intensity he had — he was just so scary, because he was just so alive and compelling, and had this amazing energy as Mark, that was new to our show and really excited all of us, I think. To have him take on this challenge, I felt like it was a no-brainer. And it also gave me a chance to have some three-day weekends!"

The late introduction of the male clones meant that their looks were fully crafted before Millen got to get to know a lot about their personalities, but he noted that their appearance did shed some light for him about what was in store for him.

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"When the Castor boys were introduced at the end of season two, I found out two weeks before [I was playing clones], and then two weeks later, I had a mohawk and a scar, but I didn't have any other information, so we started with a visual first," Millen acknowledged. "And then over the summer, I asked [co-creator] Graeme [Manson] and John, what can you tell me? So by the time we got to the season, I had a bit more information. I had formulated in my head who he was, and obviously with a scar and mohawk, this guy is probably a little bit crazy. Especially the way he was introduced at the end of the season. So the first thing I read [for season three], is [Rudy facing off with Sarah]. And [the intensity for Rudy] continues. He will continue to get under people's skin and just pick at you and pick at you until you blow up and he's won. And then you get a smile. That's Rudy."

But will these be the only clone lines around for the remainder of the show? Fawcett opted to be coy about potentially introducing another actor to play a gaggle of clones. "Listen, I really think that the thing that I love about our show is we're always trying to make choices that evolve the show in directions that people aren't expecting," he explained. "And as much as I think Graeme and I have the big master plan, there's always room for deviations, and we always like to keep people on the edge of their seats. And what's cool about the show is it's kind of a mashup; it could go in any direction we want. It seems like we can go in a horror direction, a comedic direction, we could go in a dramatic, action-orientated direction. I think, so far, anyway, we're managing to put all these genres together and make something that is really unique. And the more often we make decisions that people aren't expecting, the better the show is."

Orphan Black returns April 18 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.

Twitter: @MarisaRoffman

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