11:30am PT by Marisa Roffman
'Orphan Black' Co-Creator, Stars Promise Answers in Season 3
BBC America's Orphan Black — already one of the most ambitious shows on television — is aiming to take things to the next level in its upcoming third season.
The sci-fi drama previously tasked its leading lady, Tatiana Maslany, with playing five clones (Sarah, Alison, Helena, Cosima and Rachel) on a regular basis. And with the season two finale twist that Ari Millen's Mark is a clone from a separate line (dubbed Project Castor), the impact will be felt throughout the series for the foreseeable future.
"There's so much going on: the season starts off with the clones in separate places and reeling from the news of the Castor clones," Maslany told The Hollywood Reporter. "The world is changing again and expanding, and that's where we pick up."
Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett previewed that the expansion will bring some answers for members of the so-called Clone Club.
"Our show is about the sisterhood and about Sarah," he said. "But in that quest for answers [about what's going on], Castor provides its own answers. Castor is a massive part [of it all]. [It's] not just we need some bad guys — there are answers within Castor. Part of that pinning these two things against each other is we will find answers that everyone wants to know; that the audience wants to know."
Fawcett, Maslany and Millen spoke with THR about what else to expect in season three, the show's longevity and more.
Tasking Millen as the newest batch of clones
Although Millen is now playing an integral part of Orphan Black, originally his character Mark was supposed to meet his end in season two.
"There was a specific moment when I made the decision not to kill the character, and that was after seeing a scene Ari did with Zoé De Grand Maison (who plays Gracie) when she's had her mouth sewn shut, and he brings her the milk. That scene was so good," Fawcett said. "Ari brought this other side to the character that we hadn't seen before. That was when we went, 'Let's not kill him.' [The male clones] was that thing we knew we were going to do at the end of the season. It began as something else and evolved over the course of the year, [and] suddenly it started making so much sense [to make the clones Millen]. We put a lot of emphasis on the Mark character."
For his part, Millen is pleased with the surprise.
"I've got Rudy, who is a nutcase; Mark, who is getting deeper and deeper; and Miller, who is embedded in the military," he said. "I get to explore these different paths."
For her part, Maslany has been impressed by what her co-star has managed to pull off.
"It's amazing to watch him do it, and do it so comfortably, because I know I was terrified when I first started doing it," she said.
On the show's big-picture plans
Given how far Orphan Black moved from its initial plans for Mark, Fawcett embraced not being locked into a plan and being unwilling to adapt to how the series is organically evolving.
"As much as I'd like to say there's a big, massive blueprint for the show, there is and there isn't," Fawcett acknowledged. "A lot of the fun of writing the show is finding it as we go. We have some of the big [things planned]: we're going to go here, and here, and here, and this is where we want to end. But we do discover a lot as we move. You find the strength, you find the stories you care about. When we put Alison and Felix (Jordan Gavaris) together, we went, 'Whoa, we should do that more.' it's a little trial and error to some degree; there's a plan, but there's always room to move within the plan."
While every beat isn't mapped out ahead of time, Fawcett did admit there is a limit to how long he sees the series going.
"This is a specific story we're telling," he said. "At the moment, we have plans to go five seasons. That's the plan. Could it go beyond that? Possibly, with some kind of reinvention of itself. But right now, our goal is to tell a story and have it end at the end of five seasons."
Are there any good male clones?
So far, all of the male clones viewers have been introduced to were a bit … off. But there is hope that there might be a "good" one in the batch — or at least the potential for someone to evolve into being a better person.
"Here's what we think fundamentally on the show: no one is good, no one is bad," Fawcett said. "You can tee someone up as your bad guy, and then change them — like Mark and Helena. Helena began on paper as Assassin Black. She didn't even have a name. She was the clone that was killing other clones. There has to be other layers of complexity you bring to the character. One of the most eye-opening discoveries we had as creators was the ability to take a character who was inherently a killer, and make her sympathetic. We did that a bit with Matt Frewer's Dr. Leekie. There are even layers to that in Rachel's character — you see her humanity."
"Especially this season," Millen added.
The Paul (Dylan Bruce) of it all.
Although Paul's involvement in season two was significantly less than season one, Fawcett teased there's much more to see from the character. "There are still a lot of layers to Paul we're going to discover," he said. "I think if you think you know the direction Paul's going in, you don't."
Here's what to expect from the Project Leda clones:
Sarah: As the situation with her sisters heats up, Sarah steps up to take charge. "She definitely has to put everything aside to protect everyone right now," Maslany said. "She's taken a real leadership place within the team, within the sisterhood. It's an unlikely place for her to be because of who she is and her lack of want to be the leader. She has to take over that position and give up a lot of her selfishness for her desire to protect these people."
But with that responsibility, Sarah could be forced to make some immense personal sacrifices. "She definitely makes some really difficult choices this season," Maslany added. "She's been having to make difficult choices her whole life, but now a lot of people depend on her, and she has a responsibility to not just herself, but her family with Kira (Skyler Wexler) and S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Felix — and her new adopted family. There are a lot of people who depend on her, and the decisions are extremely difficult."
As for the inclusion of the male clones, it just further drives Sarah's quest to figure out what's going on. "It opens up the mystery to her," Maslany acknowledged. "There's so much of a question of 'Why do we exist? And why now do these Castor clones exist? Why? What are we for? Why were we created?' This is reinforcing with the emergence of the new line of closes. There's just another huge part of the mystery that's opened up. More of that identity question."
Rachel: Although Rachel was disfigured last season, her fate was nearly worse. "Last year Graeme came to me and said, 'I want to kill [Rachel]' and I was like, 'Uhhhh, I don't know about that," Fawcett shared. "We had these debates about whether to kill her or not. He had this crazy idea that he wanted to shoot a pencil across the room into her eye … and [I thought] this is going to be the moment we jump the shark…no one is going to go with that. [And he said,] 'But don't you think it's kind of funny?' "
Ultimately, producers ended up doing just that, which led to a new exploration of where Rachel could go.
"[We] got excited about really disabling her in a fundamental way," Fawcett said. "You're taking a character of real strong character and authority, someone who has her shit together, someone who is above everyone else, and totally stripping that away from them. One of Tat's big challenges this year is Rachel, because Rachel ain't Rachel anymore."
"It's an interesting thing to put her in this position to explore what it is to have your life change so completely," Maslany admitted.
Helena: With Helena kidnapped — and pregnant — things won't be getting any easier for Sarah's twin in season three. "Helena has always fought; her whole life has been that, so this is just another circumstance in which she has to do that," Maslany said. "The idea of the pregnancy is interesting, and it changes how she goes about things. She is alone again. She had a family, a place she could belong to, potentially, and she's been ripped from that again, which is her lot in life. It's interesting to play with that."
Alison: Team Hendrix is going strong in season three. "She and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) are more of a team now than we've ever seen them," Maslany said. "They've rekindled and rediscovered their love for each other. They have these secrets now, and these dark things they've revealed to each other they can't forget about — they can't gloss over. But they'll do it together, they'll do that together. They have an ally in that denial and repression."
And now that the duo are no longer fighting, Alison will set her sights on some new goals. "Alison is taking on a real public role, trying to regain some control of her life and some of her social standing," Maslany teased.
Cosima: Unfortunately for Cosima, her health is still a factor in season three. "Cosima definitely experienced a lot last season, and she continues to face her own mortality this season," Maslany said. "And [she has to] face the changing of the biology inside of her, and this thing she's afflicted with. She's in a very different place and open to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world, her biology and her body, which sort of challenges her logic and her science."
Orphan Black returns April 18 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.