NEW YORK — Think you’re busy? Tatiana Maslany can relate. She’s played 11 characters to date on her BBC America series, “Orphan Black.” The crazy part? She can recall an earlier time when she was juggling just as much.
“There was a time in Toronto like 10 years ago where I did three jobs at the same time,” she said in a recent interview. “I was filming this improvised film all day. That night I did a night shoot on a TV series and after an hour’s sleep went straight to the improv film, and I was doing a miniseries at the same time.
“I love working. I’ve learned to not do that much. But ‘Orphan Black’ is no different, but for four months.”
“Orphan Black” is now in its fourth season on BBC America, airing at 10 p.m. Thursdays.
The show is about a dozen or so women, played by Maslany, who are clones. Each multiple has her own personality, physicality and accent. One is a housewife, another is a scientist (and so on). The series follows Sarah, who is trying to get to the bottom of the conspiracy that creates the clones.
Jordan Gavaris, who plays Felix, Sarah’s adopted brother, says watching Maslany in between takes is as interesting as when the cameras are rolling.
“There’s no drama with her. She takes notes so graciously, just as if like her personal trainer were to say, ‘OK, now give me 25 sets of this. OK, great, OK.’ There’s no part of her that’s defensive. She’s totally artistic all the time,” he said.
Maslany, 30, is quick to credit her acting double, Kathryn Alexandre, with helping her pull off scenes with multiple clones. Together they block out movements to make it work.
“She’s just so incredible. She shows up every day having prepared the scene to such a detailed degree, and she always asks me questions while we’re rehearsing or while we’re shooting about intention or something that I’ve never kind of looked at. ... We’ve got a really good collaborative relationship,” Maslany said.
For a show with such technical work, Kristian Bruun, who plays straight-laced husband, Donnie, to his uptight (clone) wife, Alison, says there’s a lot of room for improvisation.
“They let us improv quite a bit. Tat and I like to improvise up until we say action. We never quite know what they’re gonna keep or use. It’s always a fun day for us. I always love to see what ends up making it on scene.”
“Orphan Black” hasn’t been renewed yet for a fifth season, but Maslany’s full schedule continues. She’s about to begin production on a film opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.
Maslany says she’s dedicated to finding a work-life balance.
The “first season (of ‘Orphan Black’) was really bad. I lost contact with every person in my life and that was not good. I’ve sort of learned to not do that and still be a part of the world. You can’t, I need that balance. I need to see people and be social and be not social and not always be going, going, going.”