It’s rare enough for an actor to earn endless critical acclaim for a performance on TV, but what about an actor receiving that kind of praise for several performances, all in one show? That’s all in a day’s work for Tatiana Maslany, who has been justifiably feted for her two seasons of work as a group of clones on “Orphan Black,” which returns for a third season on Saturday. The show manages to be, at various points, a satire of suburbia, a con artist action show and a horror movie with religious undertones. At the center of it all is Maslany, anchoring a group of women who are learning to be siblings, but who are all so different from each other that it’s all too easy to forget they’re played by one woman.
What would you say the theme of the new season is?
It feels to me like there’s something about the idea of the girls being stronger as a team. We see them separate at the beginning because they’ve all had these huge life changes and are in different worlds entirely because of everything, but just by meeting, they’ve changed each other and they’ve discovered a family that they now belong to. And I think that’s been a huge thing for all of them.
Will they be separated again like they were last season, or will they be together more often this year?
They’re splintered again. It’s exciting to see them in their own worlds and coming back together. They all have very separate lives, as much as they have come together. Cosima’s sick and dealing with her mortality, so that’s where her world picks up again, whereas Alison is in a loving relationship and very supported, and yet they have this secret that they’re hiding from everyone, which is that they’ve buried a body in their garage. So there’s all these different things that they’re contending with that are very separate.
You famously used different types of music to get into each clone character. Are you still doing that?
It changes all the time. It’s less precious to those playlists now. It’s a bit more fluid. It’s more what I’m listening to at that moment. I trust that character to live in my body a little more than I did in the first season and second season. The process of getting them is different. They also have met each other and there’s a lot of crossover in terms of who they are. I think siblings tend to impact each other and kind of create each other, so there’s definitely less of a, you are this and I am this. There’s less of a differentiation.
Will we see Sarah’s non clone family, Felix and Mrs. S, in conflict since S betrayed one of Sarah’s clone sisters?
We really start to flesh out Maria Doyle Kennedy’s character in a huge way. Mrs. S’s storyline is massive in this season, which is awesome because she’s such a good actor and has such a cool energy on the show and brings such a great sense of gravitas. She’s just amazing. We really get to explore her this season. I won’t say too much about what we learn, but she definitely has a lot more going on than you might expect on the surface.
Will her lover pop up again?
Oooh, I don’t know! I won’t say. I’ll leave you guys wondering about that one.
That was a pretty badass moment for her, hooking up with him in a bar hallway last year.
Yeah, I know, it was amazing! We were like, yeah Maria!
Last season introduced a group of male clones. Given that the show has explored so much related to women’s issues, is there a concern about losing any of that focus now?
I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, by any means. They aid in the exploration. We don’t explore feminism in the vacuum of feminism. We explore it in relation to the world and in relation to altering viewpoints. The truth of what our world is and how male-centric it can be, and how women fight for the space that they take up in the world whereas men are given it. That is obviously a gross generalization, but in terms of exploring it, I think it really helps to have strong male characters to bounce strong female characters off of. It just adds to the exploration and strengthens it. And we for sure have maintained that sense of the women being at the center of the story and are still telling stories through that perspective.
Most importantly, did you get to try any new accents this season?
I can’t say if I do, becausethat would spoil things too much. But yeah, it is a clone show. Infer from that what you will! It’s expanding, the world’s definitely expanding.
Though Alison, the iron-willed suburban suburban mom, was often at odds with husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun) in earlier seasons once she learned he was observing her for the sinister Dyad Institute, the two have since united over a shared hatred of the company. Oh, and Donnie accidentally killing the head of the Dyad last year was certainly a bonding moment, too.
How is it working as a team with Alison and Donnie, as opposed to having them be at odds?
It’s great. He’s such an awesome actor, Kristian. He’s such a great improviser and we have so much fun together, so it’s such a joy to get to do a scene together. That dynamic has always been one that has excited me and it’s always kind of growing and changing.
He’s still going to be funny though, right?
No, dark and serious. Very dark, and very serious. Donnie does not make anybody laugh anymore. It just sucks, basically. No, he’s in great form. They’re a team. Kristian and I always talk about it as like, they’re Ren and Stimpy, that kind of dynamic, so thatstill exists.
So she’ll keep being mean to him.
She’s a ballbreaker.