‘She-Hulk’ Star Tatiana Maslany Talks Breaking the MCU’s Fourth Wall Before Deadpool

The actor, who played more than a dozen characters on 'Orphan Black,' discusses portraying "only" two in the Marvel show, and teases an upcoming cameo as "the greatest day" of her life.

[This story contains spoilers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s “Normal Amount of Rage.”]

Now that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has premiered on Disney+, Tatiana Maslany’s Jen Walters/She-Hulk has officially broken the fourth wall in the MCU before Deadpool. It’s quite fitting since She-Hulk got the fourth-wall jump on the Merc with a Mouth in the comics, too. So Maslany can’t help but admit that she’s at least a little proud of the fact that she got a leg up on fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds and his forthcoming MCU debut as Deadpool. (At the series’ global press conference, director Kat Coiro, head writer Jessica Gao and Maslany reveled in the comic book iteration’s bragging right.)

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“Yeah, that was all I needed. That’s the reason I took this part. I just wanted to beat [Deadpool],” Maslany jokes to The Hollywood Reporter.

However, Maslany definitely wants to turn her character’s fourth-wall tendencies into an ongoing duel with Deadpool. “That would be so great. We’re both trying to fight for fourth-wall supremacy and who owns the fourth wall more. I think he’d win, but I’d take him up,” Maslany says.

In a recent conversation with THR, Maslany also discusses episode three’s unnamed cameo and how it was one of the greatest moments of her career. 

On Orphan Black, you played 17 characters, give or take, and on this show, you only play two. Do Jen Walters and She-Hulk feel like a walk in the park compared to that previous experience?

(Laughs.) Yes, for sure. It’s much easier to play two characters. But at the same time, Orphan Black allowed me such a playground to stretch these muscles of differentiating character and make me feel that there was so much possibility in what any one person can be. So I got to bring that to this character, She-Hulk, and explore her in a more internal way. As much as her transformation is outwardly visible, her internal stays the same, and so that’s a bit of a difference. It’s almost opposite to the characters on Orphan Black.

In general, when you first left Orphan and you went on to play just one character, was it jarring at first? Did you feel like you weren’t doing enough for a little while?

No, because I went to do theater. I went to do an off-Broadway play that was called Mary Page Marlowe, written by Tracy Letts. Tracy is just such an incredible writer, and I worked with Lila Neugebauer, who’s an amazing director. I never pick a part for ease. There’s always something in it that is challenging to me, and whether it’s the medium of being on stage again for the first time in 15 years or whatever it was, there’s always something that makes it feel like this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

So Jen’s fourth-wall material is so much fun as she comments on recastings, cameo fixation and Twitter armor. Are you just pumped that you beat your countryman Ryan Reynolds to the punch as far as breaking the fourth wall in the MCU?

(Laughs.) Yeah, that was all I needed. That’s the reason I took this part. I just wanted to beat [Deadpool]. 

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Do you hope to have a fourth wall duel with his Deadpool character someday? You could crash each other’s fourth wall moments, I suppose.

That would be so great. We’re both trying to fight for fourth wall supremacy and who owns the fourth wall more. I think he’d win, but I’d take him up. (Laughs.)

[Writer’s Note: The next question and answer contain mild spoilers for episode two.]

Are you surprised that you guys got away with a nod to a certain recasting?

That was a Mark [Ruffalo] ad lib! That’s truly the world of this show. It’s as meta as you can possibly get, and what’s more meta than discussing the fact that the Hulk in [The Incredible Hulk, 2008] was played by a totally different actor? There are so many layers to it.

Your “ha!” topped it off perfectly. 

Oh good!

I also appreciated the “I’m shown” line as Bruce tries to impart wisdom on Jen, and at this morning’s press conference, I was surprised to learn that you really didn’t seek out any tips from Mark Ruffalo on playing a Hulk character.

Yeah, I ignored him. I didn’t look him in the eye when we were working together. (Laughs.) Mark is a wonderful person. He’s just so great, and the only thing he ever did was make me feel like whatever I was doing was correct. He’s very generous, and we truly got to be like two big babies who were playing superheroes in these pajama suits together. It was total play and total imagination time, in a way, and when do adults get to do that? 

The series begins by asking this question, but in the real world, if someone acquired powers like Jen, do you think they have a responsibility to help others? 

Yeah, I feel like we see it constantly as people who wield the most power are delegating the responsibility elsewhere, in the sense of shirking their responsibility and maybe doing things that aren’t actually helping the greater good, but are self-motivated. The thesis as the beginning is also the crux of Jen’s whole conflict. The perception of her power from the outside is one thing, but her own sense of her power and being embodied is another thing. And it’s not necessarily something that she comes to in the snap moment that it takes for her to become a Hulk. It’s something that she’s learning to wield, and when somebody hasn’t had power their whole life and suddenly they’re looked to for whatever, of course that’s going to be a shaky journey.

Have you adopted the Cheetos and chopsticks life hack? 

(Laughs.) I wish I could say I like Cheetos. I just don’t like them. They make my heart race because of that tartrazine or whatever it is.

Have you banned Marvel Studios from releasing the behind-the-scenes footage of episode three’s dancing-related tag?

No, I want that out! I really want everyone to see it because it was the greatest day of my life. It was the greatest moment of my life.

Even in the mo-cap suit?

Especially in the mo-cap suit! There’s no way I’m going to feel cool if I’m opposite the most beautiful cool person on the planet. There’s just no way. So if I can look like a little kid dancing in pajamas, that’s fine with me. As long as I get to dance with her, I’m happy.

She-Hulk is now streaming on Disney+. This interview was edited for length and clarity.