Just before Tatiana Maslany started working on a little
science-fiction show about clones – have you heard of Orphan Black, by
the way? People seem to like it – the actress made a road movie in
Western Canada called Cas & Dylan.
Directed by Jason Priestley, it’s a nice little character study starring
Richard Dreyfuss as an ailing doctor who drives to British Columbia on a
personal mission – and bonding with a spirited hitchhiker (Maslany)
along the way.
Distribution being what it is, the movie is only reaching DVD now, and
Maslany – in London shooting The Woman In Gold, about which more below –
finds herself flashing back to a time when she was just another actor,
rather than someone who’s been making jaws drop on a weekly basis.
“It seems like so long ago,” Maslany says. “We shot it, like, the two
months before I started the first season of Orphan Black. I had met with
Mark Montefiore, who’s the producer, and the writer, Jessie Gabe, she
knew me from Being Erica, she’d written for that show. I had a meeting
with them and discussed the script; I thought it was fun, and kind of a
nice departure for me as far as the work I’d done prior to that. And
then Richard came on board and I was like ‘Oh my god, I am the luckiest
person on the planet.’”
The two actors have a lovely chemistry in the film, and Maslany credits
that to having another performer behind the camera: Jason Priestley had
been directing for television for a while, but this was his first
“I always love when there’s an actor as a director,” Maslany says.
“There’s an understanding there that’s different. But I have worked with
directors who aren’t actors, who’ve never acted, but just have that
language in them. They just understand how to talk to actors.
“But Jason is so great, because he’s had the experience of working on TV
sets where you’re churning out so much product in such a short amount
of time. So he’s very efficient, but then he also allowed us to play –
to really find the chord, the tone, that builds the relationship –
because if that weren’t there, nobody would care. He was really great
about that. And also he can understand comedy; his timing is great, and
he’s great with, you know, the science of it. Which is helpful, because I
find it quite scary.”
This takes me by surprise, since I’ve always regarded Orphan Black as a comedy with the occasional thriller element.
“That’s right!” Maslany laughs, though she’s quick to point out that the
show’s funniest moments – usually involving the uneasy interaction of
type-A soccer mom Alison Hendrix with her clone sisters – are the result
of a great deal of teamwork.
“That’s a testament to so many people on the set that those scenes
work,” she says. “You know, whether it’s my acting double, Kathryn
[Alexandre], or Geoff [Scott] and all of those guys with Intelligent
Creatures, you know – it’s like, just such a group effort. Like, the
moment the techno-dolly comes out, we’re all like unified; it’s us
against the camera. But yeah, I see what you’re saying about the timing
and stuff; it’s definitely like a choreography. It’s got a rhythm to
And it’s the rhythm between Dreyfuss and Maslany that gives Cas & Dylan its heart.
“I think the whole movie is about traveling,” she says. “It’s about
movement, running away from feelings or running towards something that’s
better than where we are now. And I think in those moments, Cas and
Dylan both are able to be still together in a pleasant moment in their
lives, you know? It’s such a great release for him and a great new
experience, sort of a dawning, for her.”
And now Maslany is in London, playing someone very different – in more ways than one – on the set of The Woman in Gold.
“It’s directed by Simon Curtis, who did My Week with Marilyn,” she says.
“It’s about Maria Altman, whose family was Jewish and in Vienna at the
time of the Holocaust. The Nazis basically stole all of their paintings,
including the Klimt painting The Lady in Gold. These paintings were
taken from her family, and she fled Austria – fled to the States – and
later in her life she goes back to Austria to take back these paintings
from the Austrian government. It’s this beautiful true story. I play her
when she was young and still in Vienna, in the midst of the Holocaust.”
The older Altman is played by Helen Mirren, so Maslany can add another legend to her collection.
“I was so honoured,” she says. “I’m in such awe of her – I think she is
one of the greatest, and still maintains this amazing sense of humour
and kind of coolness about her. I got to watch some of her work, and try
to bring in some of her elegance and the dignity that she has with this
character. It was quite fun.”
And once The Woman in Gold wraps, it’s back to Toronto to start the
third season of Orphan Black. As to what we can expect from that, well …
“God, I would love to know,” Maslany laughs. “I’m supposed to be
chatting with the guys at some point; I think what I like about that
show is that I never know where it’s headed either.”
That’s okay, I tell her; as a fan of the show, I don’t really want to
know anything about the new season until I see it. It turns out Maslany
feels the same way.
“As an audience member, I hate spoilers,” she says. “I hate anything
like that. I just wanna be surprised. I love going to a movie and
literally not having seen a single stitch of footage from it. Just going
into it blind, that’s my favourite. I did that with Under the Skin – I
had no clue what I was in for, I didn’t know anything about it, and it
was perfect to see it that way.”
Cas & Dylan is now available on DVD from TVA Films.