(NEW YORK) — Most actors play just one character at a time, but Tatiana Maslany has played nearly a dozen roles on the BBC America show Orphan Black.
“There’s a lot of ‘How do you keep it straight in your mind? How do you differentiate these people? How do you become different people?'” Maslany, 30, told Peter Travers on ABC News’ Popcorn with Peter Travers.
The show follows clones who discover one another and search for their identities and origins. Maslany, who’s played an array of clones — including a Ukrainian assassin, a suburban housewife, a drug-using cop and a transgendered man — credits a team of people for helping her portray each character.
“The hair and makeup team are incredibly creatively collaborative with me. And we’ve created these characters together, you know, along with the writers and showrunners, but also I have a dialect coach who helps me get into the voices,” Maslany said. “And then I have my acting double, who plays all the clones opposite me when I do. Her name’s Kathryn Alexandre, and she’s an amazing actor and does the most selfless, generous job on the planet, because she’s never seen.”
Though undertaking the complicated gig was initially daunting for her, Maslany said it’s fun getting to play so many characters.
“I think, for me, it’s the most natural thing an actor can do, is transform like this. I think that’s we’re born to do,” she said. “At least the people I admire and the people I work with, we are thrilled to get to transform, and we’re excited by that challenge.”
Maslany, who’s from Regina, Saskatchewan, also has her improvisation background to thank. Before she moved to Toronto to pursue an acting career, she worked in theater and television as a child. Improvisation helps her on “Orphan Black,” she said, “in terms of character relationship and just story of in-the-moment building of a character … We’re really lucky. We really just are allowed to play [but] always within the scene.”
She said that when she’s not working on the show, she eagerly jumps into new roles.
“I definitely have to, like, shed the characters and the kinetic sort of nature of the show after I wrap,” she said. “But the last two seasons, I went straight to a film right after, so I kind of dove into another world.”
“That’s a nice reset to be thrown into something different,” she added.
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