One of the season’s most intriguing and entertaining new shows, Orphan Black (BBC America, Saturdays following Doctor Who, 9/8C), is a twisty, dark, multi-level drama that combines mystery and science fiction in a unique way. The story of Sarah Manning, who sees a woman who looks exactly like her commit suicide and makes some fateful decisions thereafter, it is smart, edgy and a well thought out riff on any number of genre tropes.
Star Tatiana Maslany and series co-creator John Fawcett took part in a conference call Q&A with a group of bloggers/journalists on Wednesday to chat about the series which has been fine-tuned over a ten-year period prior to its premiere tomorrow night.
Hi John and Tatiana. Thanks for taking the call today.
John Fawcett: Hi there.
My first question is for John. And John, I was wondering what you can tell us about the upcoming season as far as what kind of storylines will be explored.
Fawcett: What kind of storylines will be explored. Well, you know, Orphan Black for us is basically a mystery kind of thriller with a kind of a sci-fi angle. And of course, the big question is, who am I? It’s an identity and so that’s kind of the overarching mystery of the series. And really, because of the rabbit hole/mystery/thriller aspect of the show, the deeper you go into the rabbit hole the more questions you get. You get answers along the way, but more questions start to arise.
That is kind of the biggest storyline I think that we’re following through the course of the series. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there may be some more clones. Those characters have their own storylines and contribute to the larger picture and the larger mystery.
Okay. My follow up question’s for Tatiana. Tatiana I was wondering what was your first impression when you read the script and what attracted you to the role of Sarah?
Tatiana Maslany: I was obsessed with this part as soon as I read it. I was obsessed with the material. It’s just – it’s so unique and it’s so compelling. And it’s so a world that I’d never seen on television before. The wonderful thing about this show is that each of the clones has their own voice, they’re not just cannon fodder. You know what I mean? They’re not just expendable. They’re completely their own human being.
And so for me it was like I’m salivating at the challenge to get to play all these characters and, you know, define each of these women – because each of them are so well written. Like you could have a series about each of them. They’re so complex and human and funny and dark and everything, so.
And then of course Sarah was the initial pull for me because she’s the lead of this series and she’s an extremely human character. She’s very flawed, she’s very manipulative, she’s very much an animal of instinct and of spontaneity and – she adapts. You know what I mean? There were so many possibilities, I was so excited to play her. She’s working class from London so she has a very specific life experience that was far from mine, but really enticing to me.
My first question is for Tatiana. Besides, I mean, you play all these clones and you do a lot more than simply changing your look and your accent — which by the way the accents are wonderful — I noticed that…
Maslany: Oh, thanks.
…you do – oh, you’re welcome. But I’ve noticed that, you know, you’ve done every little detail and mannerisms of the characters and all. How do you keep all that straight and how do you prepare to play so many characters so well that, you know, it seems like you’re a completely different person that happens to look the same which is obviously the point?
Maslany: I don’t know. It was extremely daunting. I mean, I was just hungry for the part so I just went like full into it. And when I got it, I was like oh God now I have to do this extremely big challenge. I mean, keeping them all straight in my head was a bit of a brain – I can’t think of the word. But it was confusing, you know, and difficult.
But the cool thing is they’re all so well written and they’re all so unique on the page that a lot of that kind of specific differentiating work was already done for me. For me it was a matter of committing fully to them and not being afraid to find something in me in each of these women and really explore what that seed was.
And just play with it. It was going back to the thing of being a kid and being able to switch between being a dinosaur and being a dog and being, you know, a police officer, you know, in the same breath. Like you can do that when you’re a kid and we’re kind of socialized not to do that as adults because it’s crazy but as an actor you have to do that. And so that’s really how I approached it.
It does show. And John, I have a question for you if you don’t mind. I was wondering if – Sarah’s DNA obviously is being used for these clones. Can you give us any hints if there might be other DNA templates for other sets of clones that may show up throughout the series?
Fawcett: Well – now – - we don’t know if Sarah is the original or not. We don’t know where this DNA is from. It is one of the mysteries for us, as Sarah discovers she’s a clone it really is a story of who am I and where did I come from? And it is an identity thriller in some sense of that feeling of like I thought I knew who I was and suddenly my world is upside down – there are others – there are copies of me and am I the original? And if I’m not the original, who is?
I think that that’s a really sort of a fantastic – a massive bewildering dilemma to put a character in – to put the main character of Sarah in and throw her down this sort of rabbit hole which is Orphan Black.
Beyond that, you know, yes. my creative partner and co-creator Graeme Manson – we’ve had many discussions about where the show will ultimately go and what will occur in further seasons. And I wouldn’t want to rule out the possibility of other clones but I can’t say exactly right at this point. I think we’re all very fascinated with Sarah and we’re fascinated with her clone sisters at this point and their journey. And I think that that – we’re hoping that people will find that journey as attractive and as exciting as we do.
Tatiana, first of all I was going to say a role like this must be an actor’s dream and an actor’s nightmare at the same time.
Is there one – is there something in each character that you can relate to or is there one particularly that you can go oh, that’s a lot like me?
Maslany: You know what? They each have a seed of me inside them. That sounds so gross. They each have an – they each have a bit of me in them. Each of these women. I think what I did was, you know, figured out what it was that I could relate to in each of them and then expanded on that and elaborated on that and let that be, you know, kind of the nut of the character because obviously I feel like I can relate to all of them.
They’re all very human and I think there’s aspects of me in each of them but there’s definitely certain ones that were easier to identify with than others. Their actions maybe are more in line with how I respond in real life. But there’s not one of them that wasn’t like challenging or super exciting to play. You know, none of them were like oh yes, I can just – I can do this…
Yes. Did you take any of them home with you?
Maslany: I took them all – they’re all still bouncing around in my head and I’m having trouble sleeping or shutting my brain off. I would like – even during shooting I was like sleep – I’d be sleeping and like tossing back and forth between characters in my sleep. So it’s kind of – I think it’ll be with me for a while.
Well you’re fantastic, you really are. And John, where did you find this great actress?
Fawcett: Well, you know, Tatiana and I had actually crossed paths many, many years earlier. I made a film – I directed and, you know, created a feature film called “Ginger Snaps” and after that we made two sequels to it that I executive produced. And we were casting this really cool young spooky girl part in the sequel to it and that’s when I came across Tatiana.
And you know what? The funny thing is when I was casting that part – there were two people up for that part at the end of the day and it was Tatiana versus Ellen Page.
And of course I went for Tatiana. Because Tatiana’s a better actor.
Fawcett: And so her and I were aware of each other and knew each other and had worked together previously – prior to this and I was well aware of the girl’s mad skills. And we’re, you know, we get along great and we were just lucky to have such a great collaboration between us.
And a great cast. I mean, what an embarrassment of riches. I mean…
Maslany: It’s ridiculous.
Now, what’s interesting is watching the scene where you’re all – where all the clones are talking to each other in one scene. And both of you in particular because John probably directed some of those scenes what’s it like to stage that? And can you do all of that in one day or does it take a few days to have her kind of go through all the different personalities and reacting to what the other one says?
Fawcett: Well, you know, I can talk to it a little bit from the – just a little bit from the technical point of view and then Tat can fill in from her point of view.
Fawcett: That particular episode — and I’m assuming you’re talking about episode 3 — wasn’t actually directed by me. I directed episodes 1 and 2. That episode, episode 3 which is the first time we get three girls in one room talking really was done by a director by the name of David Frazee.
But to answer your question, it’s extremely complicated and we had some rehearsal ahead of time. You know, we block out the scene like a regular scene except it’s Tat and her acting double (Katherine) and then another acting double because there’s three of them in the same room. And the scene gets shot in layers. So it’s a very time consuming process.
It has to be – it’s a head scratcher for the director and for Tatiana because, you know, it’s really about working out all the details of each of the characters. So, you know, with a bit of rehearsal time it’s helpful because at least Tat has the time then to play each of the parts and figure out exactly what she wants to do physically and how she would respond.
You know, as we went deeper into the season time became a little bit more of a premium. It became a little more complicated. But we got better at it too as we went along. But to answer your question – it’s very time consuming. That particular day was an extremely long day for all of us and especially for Tatiana who gets there early in the morning and then doesn’t get to leave till like it’s the end of the last scene of the day. And she’s having to play multiple characters and is going home with her head spinning I’m sure.
What do you think about that Tat? What do you have to say?
Maslany: Yes, – those scenes were always long days – like I have to kind of keep all the impulses straight in my head and predetermine what I want my interactions to be, what I want the responses to be. And then remember what I did on the other side so I can respond to it.
So it’s a bit – it’s a struggle. I mean, technically it’s a struggle because my eye lines have to shift – I’m looking at an X over here and then I’m looking at an X over here. I’m trying not to, you know, if I put my hand on my other clone like I’m trying not to put my hand through her face. You know what I mean?
Maslany: …little technical details. But it’s also like – again it’s kind of like being on stage and having to imagine your set, you know, being on stage in an improv show or something where you don’t have the set but you endow the empty space with that set. So I had to, you know, endow the empty space with my clone, who I’m speaking to.
And luckily we have an incredible technology with the technodolly which is this camera that basically memorizes it’s internal movement so it can reproduce every time. So we have movement during the scene and it just sells it. It’s insane.
Yes, totally. I’m running on my site a clip of you making your – it’s called "Transformation" where Sarah is literally transforming herself into Beth physically and also mentally. And I was just watching that scene I said this girl can definitely carry this show, can definitely do this. I was pretty impressed.
Maslany: Oh, thank you. Thanks so much.
Fawcett: She definitely can, believe me.
I wanted to ask a couple of questions. I notice, you know, there are a lot of projects these days that are for both BBC and BBCA and I was wondering what the status of Orphan Black is. Is it going to be seen in the UK as well as here? And if not are there plans in the future for it to be?
Fawcett: As far as I know because BBC Worldwide is distributing it. I’m assuming that it is going to be broadcast by BBC in the UK. That would just kind of make sense. I don’t necessarily have the information to say 100% whether it is going to be. We’re beginning it here, simulcast in the United States and Canada.
Tyler Zlotnick (BBC America): Orphan Black is a BBC America original – produced by Temple Street Productions in association with BBC AMERICA and SPACE (Canada’a sci-fi station). As John said it will be premiering here in the U.S. on BBC AMERICA, and will be broadcast in Canada on SPACE. BBC AMERICA is very excited for Orphan Black’s premiere on March 30. There are no announcements to share at the moment regarding the show’s distribution.
Okay. That being said was the decision to make the setting London, to make her – Sarah a working class Londoner was that done with the idea in mind that it would appeal more to people in the UK if it was not strictly an American setting?
Fawcett: The show originated with my partner and I, Graeme Manson, and we’re Canadian – of course we wanted a show that we could shoot in – that we could shoot here. Essentially when I say "here" I mean North America.
And as we were looking for partners we started getting a lot of love from BBC America who were really into the project and – which was exciting to us. Well of course being BBC America they, you know, they want to hear some – they want to hear a little bit of British.
Fawcett: And so it was an interesting creative conversation to have because they, you know, they asked us up front they said, you know, can the lead character speak with a British accent? And I had never thought of that, that had never occurred to me before. Sarah, you know, in our original version of the story was not British.
But the more I thought about that the more I realized that in fact that was a really cool thing for the character. And really one of the main reasons was to differentiate her from everyone else. Like I, you know, I worried a little bit that the audience – about the audience being able to follow who was who. And certainly on paper before you begin to shoot, I kind of went, you know, if Sarah speaks with a British accent and she steps into the role of Beth and Beth is not British. Beth is American or North Generican.
Oh, I love that term.
Fawcett: Then – it’ll be really cool to see this British accent turn into an American accent. And I thought that that was just a neat way to watch her become Beth and a nice way to differentiate Sarah from everyone else. Plus I have to say, for me, it opened up the world of the clones. It suddenly became a much bigger story.
Potentially there are clones in Germany, there are clones in Europe, there are clones in North America. It’s not – this isn’t all just happening in our backyard conveniently. And I think that that’s good for the overarching mystery of the show.
Maslany: …the identity of a person – for me, like in London, there’s so many different accents that so specifically say so much about you. Like the way you speak tells people how you were educated and how – what neighborhood you lived in. You know what I mean? So I feel like it also comes right back to identity, doesn’t it?
Fawcett: It does.
Sarah’s trying so hard to hold on to her own life while pretending to be Beth. How hard is it going to be for her to keep it all together?
Fawcett: Well that’s part of the – you mean in terms of the way – as the show sort of – unreels itself?
Fawcett: Yes. Well that’s part of the excitement of the show really. I mean, one of the things that I liked so much about the story was watching somebody thrust into someone else’s life, having to make it up as they go along and respond in the moment, trying to keep all the lives straight. And trying to charade her way through this life that she really knows nothing about.
And then not only that – suddenly coming to the realization that the person that she’s inhabiting, the life that’s she’s inhabiting and trying to fake her way through turns out to be a cop. And so that just like suddenly ups the stakes and makes the level of her lies and the volume of this act that she’s having to put on just goes way up on it. And it’s exciting to watch.
I love watching it, you know, all the sort of the close calls and how is she going to get out of this and how is she going to get – oh my God she’s busted. And watching her worm her way out of various situations it’s part of the excitement of the show. And it’s kind of hopefully one of the big aspects to the series that will keep the viewers coming back episode after episode.
Maslany: I feel like it’s like John said. It just never gets any easier really for Sarah does it? Kind of – the more questions…
Fawcett: No, it gets worse.
Maslany: …yes, the more questions we’ve answered the more questions we pose. And so, you know, I think it’s great too because I think the audience will really relate to her being lost – we will understand because, you know, their questions are her questions and so you always have an in with her. You know, you’re on the journey with Sarah for sure.
Fawcett: There were lots of direction where I would give Tatiana the direction of okay, so this is you’re really confused and this is like really in your head you’re going well what the fuck? Like you have to like cover it enough to make us believe that you’re not really confused, you know? But there’s just got to be just that right amount of like I’m f***ed, I’m f***ed and…
Maslany: Like, yes. Absolutely.
Fawcett: I’m probably not allowed to say "I’m f***ed, I’m f***ed" am I?
Fawcett: Anyway. That’s all.
And then following up on that can you talk about how important it is that Sarah still has Felix in her life?
Maslany: Felix is the, I mean, Felix is Sarah’s heart. You know, they’re each other’s everything. I mean, other than Kira in Sarah’s life Felix is her family and who she wants to be with. And, you know, they’re very much siblings in the sense that they need each other deeply and yet they use each other and they manipulate each other. You know what I mean?
And Felix is kind of an incredible sounding board too for all of Sarah’s fears and all of Sarah’s confusion and in a way sort of a – the calm in the craziness of her life.
This question is actually for both of you. With how fast things spread on the Internet these days we see fans picking up on series that haven’t even started yet. And I was wondering for both of you if you’ve seen any fan reaction yet and if so how has that been for you?
Maslany: I mean, I saw it at – we were at Toronto Comic Con and, you know, our show’s not out yet and we had a packed conference room of people excited about the show. And that’s insane because nobody’s seen it, you know. They’ve seen clips, they’ve seen trailers online, they got to watch an exclusive scene there at Comic Con.
But it’s such an incredible fan world, the sci-fi world. It’s such an incredibly passionate fan base. And they’re excited. They’re so excited about new things and they’re so excited about intriguing new worlds and new things they can sink their teeth into. So I feel like inherently it has this incredible community, you know, attached to it.
And we’re very lucky that BBC America’s showing us right after Doctor Who and, I mean, what an honor to be right after an incredible show like that with such an insane fan base. And, you know, hopefully we’ll have some kind of a trickle from them. But it’s been amazing that there’s a response already, you know?
Fawcett: What – hey Tat, what exclusive scene did they show at Comic Con?
Maslany: They showed the bar scene.
Fawcett: Good. That was the one I told them to show.
Maslany: Which was great. I was really happy that it was that one, yes.
Fawcett: Okay, good. From episode 3, good.
What about you, John?
Fawcett: Well you know what? I’m just a massive – like I’m a sci-fi fan to begin with and – my desire to do a show – this concept and this show was because I had a lot of belief in just being a fan myself of the genre. And I – you know what? I just think that it was a concept that, you know, we had over ten years ago. And – the idea for the show was sort of born, you know, back in 2002, 2003 and it started as a feature film.
And we – Graeme Manson my creative partner and I worked on it together for many – for a number of years, couldn’t solve it as a feature film, and then shelved it for two or three years. But you know, every time we get together we’d go yes, and then we’d wind up like having drinks and talking about the concept of it. And it just never went away, it never died.
And I know myself well enough to know – I have a very short attention span. And for a concept like this to stick around for years and years – every time we’d talk about it we’d get excited about it. I just knew that there was something special in that. I see an awful lot of sci-fi – I just knew in my heart that I had this passion about it because it was unique and original and exciting.
And being a fan – I just kind of went you know what? There’s going to be a lot of people that are really going to dig this. I’m hoping obviously the sci-fi following, the sci-fi fans, the fans of Doctor Who – the people that go to Comic Con and the fans out there that love genre and love exciting new genre and genre that defies expectations. I think these fans are going to – I’m hoping these fans find the show and find it as exciting as I do.
Great. And just a quick follow up Tatiana, what do you think your personal reaction would be if you ran into someone who looked exactly like you on the street?
Maslany: I’d be, like, there’s only room for one of us.
Maslany: I don’t know.
Fawcett: You would tell them to come and work on our show so that you didn’t have to do all the parts.
Maslany: …sometimes so that I can have a day off?
It’s nice to talk to you about the show. It’s really interesting and a lot of the questions that I had were actually answered. But John, I was wondering when you guys were conceiving the idea of Orphan Black, you know, what were some major inspirations when you were putting it all together?
Fawcett: Hm, major inspirations. I, you know, I guess – I’m trying to think of films or things that I was watching at the time that I know inspired – at least the storytelling aspect of it. You know, at the time I had just seen Memento. And that was a long time ago.
And it was just about a character who was confused and flying by the seat of their pants and in a mystery that was unraveling in real time almost. And the audience was kind of like in that mystery and seeing that mystery from the point of view of the main character – and not ahead of the main character. Just trying to like figure out along with the main character what the hell was going on. So I know Memento was definitely an inspiration.
Other than the serialized sci-fi mystery aspect to this I think the thing that I was most excited about was the idea of there being multiple versions of this woman. And I got very excited about it, seeing a show, being able to be a part of a show where we could create all these different characters.
Even still as we shot the show and we present the show, you know, it’s one of the most challenging difficult aspects to the series. But as I see things finished it’s one of the most exciting parts of Orphan Black. And every time there’s scenes with the clones where Tatiana’s playing multiple versions of herself they’re always the scenes that you’re so fascinated by and so drawn to. And it’s a massive part of what – what got me excited about the concept in the first place.
Huh, okay. Quick follow up: now that you guys have found a home on BBC America and you are – if you were approached with the opportunity to do so would you try to crossover with Doctor Who maybe for something special? (Unintelligible)…
Fawcett: You mean us and Doctor Who get together for like a Doctor Who/Orphan Black special?
Right? Like (unintelligible)…
Fawcett: Like a Christmas special.
Maslany: Were we all just sing carols together around a fire or something.
Fawcett: That would be crazy though. That would be kind of weird, hey?
Maslany: Yes. I can’t even imagine what it would look like actually.
Fawcett: I don’t know. But you’d have to go over there and then, you know, you’d have to show up or you and many of your clone sisters would have to show up with Doctor Who.
Maslany: Yes, exactly.
Fawcett: And with time travel.
Maslany: Yes. Brilliant.
Maslany: All right. Let’s do it.
Fawcett: No – well there’s no plan for that at the moment. We’re just excited that our premiere is following the premiere of Doctor Who and Doctor Who of course has a rabid fan following and we’re hoping that they – that those fans stay tuned and get into watching us – and become not only Doctor Who fans but Orphan Black fans.
John, this question is for you. It seems that a big debate in TV nowadays about how to go about the storytelling process be it standalone or serialized seems like Orphan Black is leaning more towards the serialized. Is that something that you and your partner pushed with the show or are you kind of taking it as the story comes?
Fawcett: No, no, it was absolutely part of the show. To me because the show began as a – began life as a feature film. We couldn’t solve it in a 2 1/2 hour format and that was kind of what was a little bit frustrating to us in the first couple of years of developing it and why it sat on the shelf for a while until Graeme came back to me and said hey, maybe we could solve this problem if this was a TV series rather than a feature film.
And at that point in my life I, you know, I had always thought of myself as a filmmaker but because – around, you know, around 2007, 2008 as we picked it up and started to develop it as a series I had been watching honestly more television than I had been watching feature films.
And every stitch of television that I was watching was serialized cable shows for the most part other than Lost. You know, like even Battlestar Galactica, which I was a huge fan of, was a serialized show. Shows like Six Feet Under which had this great sense of comedy, this very dark sense of humor to them, which I really gravitated towards.
I loved the idea that because this was a mystery each episode was a new chapter in a bigger story. And – much in the way Lost functioned. And I think that one of the difficulties in creating a show like that — other than, you know, the obvious difficulties in terms of the, you know, that it’s just become such a complex huge story — is actually selling it. I mean, we had a very difficult time getting Orphan Black made because nobody wanted to make a serialized show.
And BBC America was the first – really, honestly, the first network that came to us and said not only do we love your show we would make a serialized show with you. We want you to make the show you want to make. And it was their love and belief in Orphan Black that allowed us to kick things – we didn’t even have – we’re Canadians. We didn’t even have a Canadian distributor – or network at the time. We had BBC America. And it was really their love and support for it that allowed the show to become – to become a reality.
And I appreciate that as a viewer because I feel like the serialized storytelling is more rewarding in the long term as well…
I do have a follow up for Tatiana. You have some improv in your background. Do you get to improv anything on set or they keep you pretty close to script?
Maslany: Yes, I mean, I think the improv for me came in to character development. You know what I mean? A lot of my improv experience had been in long form improv so storytelling over a longer form, you know, and very character based. So for me I think it was in exploring the characters in rehearsal and on my own and with Jordan Gavaris who plays Felix where my improv came out. Because I don’t think if I didn’t have that base I would’ve been able to come up with specific behavior and physicality that was so different for each of the women. I think that’s where it really came in.
And as much as, you know, it’s a TV show and we do stick to script – it never feels like we’re trying to churn out a product. It feels very alive, it feels very loose on set. Even though we need highly technical scenes, you know, where I’m playing opposite a clone of myself and I have to stick to a very specific technical routine or regime it still feels like there’s breath in it and there’s life in it and there’s space to play and be creative and that’s amazing.
I mean, the first two episodes we shot with John directing Jordan and I had these incredible long scenes where we got to just explore the characters together. I mean, the writing is there and it gave us that space – we said we feel like we’re doing a play because we got to do these long takes and really develop that relationship. And I think, you know, as much as we stick to the script there’s improve between the moments. You know what I mean?
Fawcett: Although there is a great – I have to say because we’re working on, trying to finish episode 9.
Fawcett: And there’s a really, really great bit of improvisation between you and Jordan that I kept in the cut. Just so you know.
Maslany: How nice.
Maslany: How nice. Awesome. So yes there’s improv in it.
I have a million questions after all those answers. Let’s see. I guess the big one is is that BBC America I think out of all the networks now, the cable networks are really – I mean, with Copper and everything else they’re really taking the bull by the horns and going with it. I mean, there’s a couple other ones that do it too but it seems like regular network has just lost whatever they had or they don’t know what they want to do. But I think it’s great that BBC America is doing what they’re doing because for a long time Americans only saw BBC as a boutique kind of thing.
But now we’re getting the British thing, we’re getting all of that and we’re finally figuring it all out. I don’t know if it’s cultural or what but it’s great shows like this that helps do it.
Fawcett: Yes. I do think so. I think BBC America is really kind of developing a fantastic name for themselves in original programming with their new acquisitions. And of course, I – obviously love them to pieces because of their support for Orphan Black and all the work – that they’ve put in making this show a reality. I mean we honestly – this show would’ve died a horrible death if BBC America hadn’t have loved it.
Well it’s a great – no, I mean, for them to put it right after Doctor Who which is probably one of the biggest shows in the world now means they really have a lot of faith in it too.
Fawcett: Mm-hm. Yes that’s great.
Maslany: Yes, they’ve been super supportive, super supportive.
Fawcett: Yes, super supportive and we, you know, have spearheaded a major promo campaign, you know, the ads and the bus ads and the billboard ads and, you know, there was even an ad in comic books, more recent comic books. I mean, they’ve really gone to town on it and have always said they wanted from the very beginning, from years ago said that they wanted this show to follow up – for the lead-in to be Doctor Who. And have never ever waivered from that.
John Fawcett: And – it’s exciting to explore this and be a part of – this network…
I saw this -I saw the first four episodes, the screeners and it is a really, really good show.
Fawcett: Wait until you see the next six.
Oh, I can’t wait. Usually in a mystery the big question is whodunit but of course here there’s so much more than that to the point where we learn who is doing the killing fairly early on, I mean, four episodes in. And we’re even given their perspective on why the clones must die. Can you talk about how do you decide what to reveal and when? How did that evolve?
Fawcett: Well, you know, there’s obviously the big, big picture. There’s the big picture of the series – the major, major questions,which are essentially like who am I? Where do I come from? That are the larger questions, the identity questions in the show.
But then there’s of course the season mystery which is, a little bit smaller. The world is – Sarah has sort of dropped in and catapulted into this world and this sort of rabbit hole sort of opens up for her. You know, it really does truly become do I take the red pill or the blue pill? Do I walk away from this now and just kind of try and ignore it, take the money and run? Take the money, my daughter and get the feck (sic) out of town? Or am I going to stay and try and sort out – am I going to take the red pill and try and sort out what this bigger mystery is?
And I think that it’s an interesting question because there are so many mysteries. And, you know, like right from the get go who’s killing the clones? Who is (Maggie Chen)? What did (Maggie Chen) have to do – like what occurred that night between Beth and (Maggie Chen)? I mean, there are all these questions that kind of beget and become – they change and morph through the course of the series. The more answers we get, the more we go seeking. As we get some answers, we get a whole bunch more questions. And I think that that’s kind of what’s exciting about – that’s the thrill ride of this show I think.
I got to see the episodes also (unintelligible) incredible. I love the series already. A lot of times in the U.S. the creators have like five-year plan for their shows. Is that something that you have also done for Orphan Black?
Fawcett: Oh God. Really? Five years? Yes, we have that.
Fawcett: So – you know what? We – I’ll tell you what we have. Graeme Manson, my creative partner and I – yes, who is also the writer. I’m sort of the director of the two of us and he’s sort of the writer of the two of us and we both sort of created the show together.
We – obviously knew what we wanted to do with season 1. Well I would say we kind of more or less really know what we want to with season 2 – if we had the opportunity to do a season 2 of course. And beyond that I think we have the bigger picture and the end game.
You know, it’s interesting creating a show like this because as much as I want to say no, we know exactly what we’re doing we don’t really, you know? Like even with season 1, as we began season 1, you know, from the get go we had three finished scripts – and seven outlines that took us to the end of season 1.
And as you get into the show and you start to shoot it, you know, things change. Like you hire a guest cast – that cast comes in and you go wow, they’re really great. I want to do more with them. And as you write on the shows, you know, suddenly there’s a piece from episode 8 that you really want to pull up and put in episode 6. And things shift around – you know, – there’s structure to it but it is an organic process.
As we were kind of coming up on episode 10 Graeme would say, you know, he was like do you really want to do that? Isn’t that painting us into a bit of a corner? And I kind of – was always the one going let’s paint ourselves in the corner because I find it creatively exciting to try and figure out how the hell to get out. I actually like the thrill of not knowing to some degree.
And I think that that’s what the audience wants to see too. I think they want to go what the hell are they – how is he going to solve this? How are they going to get themselves out of this? How is Sarah going to get through this and not get busted? It’s something that I’m, you know, I love to watch – I hope the show is a show that just continually keeps pulling the rug out from under the viewers’ feet.
So that’s kind of what I have to say about that. I don’t know if Tatiana, if you have anything to add to that.
Maslany: To the five-year plan?
Fawcett: Yes, do you know anything about the five-year plan?
Maslany: Graeme talked to me about the plan – and I can’t reveal it.
Fawcett: No you can’t.
Fawcett: …we can’t have secrets from each other.
Maslany: Yes, right.
Fawcett: We can have secrets from these folks but we can’t have secrets from each other.
Maslany: Okay, well I’ll text you and I’ll let you know.
Fawcett: Okay, good.
Photos by Steve Wilkie/Courtesy of BBC America