BBC America's Newest Star Talks Hunting for Vintage and Why She Hates Heels
For most actresses, playing a single character is plenty of work—so imagine taking on half a dozen. Tatiana Maslany, the star of BBC America's new sci-fi drama Orphan Black, has done just that. Maslany plays Sarah, a streetwise British orphan who learns she is one of several clones after stealing the identity of a woman who looks just like her. As the series unfolds, Elizabeth, Alison, Cosima, Katja, and Helena are introduced — all identical versions of Sarah who run the gamut from soccer mom to tech nerd. Intense, we know.
For Maslany, a 27-year-old Canadian, her role in Orphan Black has been the challenge of a lifetime. "It demands so much creatively and emotionally and physically. I have to switch up all these body movements and characterizations and accents. It's a lot to keep it separate and specific and not let them all become the same woman," says Maslany. "In Episode 3 there's a part where there's three of me in one scene. It's three completely different characters, and that scene took 17 hours to shoot. So it's quite a lengthy process." To psych herself up for her many roles on the show, Maslany took parkour classes and created individual iPod playlists for each of her characters. "Music changes me entirely. My whole mood changes based on what I am listening to," she says. Playing multiple characters has also given Maslany rare insight into the psychology behind fashion. "We have an amazing hair and makeup and costume team who are just total artists. They give me so much, because when you look in the mirror, your perspective of yourself changes based on how you look and how you feel about how you look," she says.
In real life, Maslany says she is a little bit like every character she plays. "One part of me is the seed that I plant in each of the characters, and then I just expand on it and exaggerate it or develop that. There's a soccer mom who comes out in Episode 2, I think, and she is very rigid. She is all in Lululemon and very tightly wound, and I draw on that," she says. As an avid thrift shopper, Maslany's style is also a mishmash of influences. "I kind of like to play around and experiment. I am not girly or a tomboy. It's a mix of new stuff and vintage. I don't know if the combinations work all the time, but if I feel confident then I'll wear it," she says. Today, Maslany looks '70s chic in black wide leg trousers and a green palm-print silk shirt from Cheap Monday, paired with towering black heels she doesn't seem to be particularly fond of. "I'd rather have my feet firmly planted on the ground," she says. Read on to learn what Maslany told Lucky about her demanding new role, her favorite designers and what pieces she can't wait to break out this spring. And be sure to catch Orphan Black on BBC America tomorrow night at 9 pm EST!
Lucky: Was the audition process to play clones pretty intense?
It was pretty intense. I did like three auditions for one of the co-creators and the casting directors. I did a chemistry test with Jordan (Gavaris), who plays Felix, who is incredible. It was one of those auditions where he was so amazing and inspiring we played off each other and took the piss out of each other and improvised. It felt really easy, though it was in a scary environment. Auditions are not a natural environment, and you feel judged, even though everyone is just excited to find the right person.
Do you have a favorite clone?
I love them all. I love Sarah's look. Especially at the very beginning, where everything feels like it's been worn for 17 days. Tights, boots. I love Alison, all the tight Lululemon and her walk is very different. And then there is Cosima—she is this dreadlocked, science hippie girl. Loads of jewelry and very quirky. She's very fun as well. They all change the way I move. Clothing and makeup and hair and all of that so much indicates the kind of person you are inside and the person you are presenting on the outside. Sometimes they are in conflict, and sometimes they are the same. That psychology of the exterior informing the interior is just so interesting.
What is your go-to outfit in everyday life?
Where's your favorite place to shop for vintage?
Kensington Market in Toronto is a really cool, really hippie neighborhood with great stores. So many shops pop up, and it's so piece-specific. You can go in and there are 500 things you want, and other times, there is nothing you want. It's really eclectic. Vintage is huge. The hipster movement is huge.
Do you have any favorite stores that aren't vintage?
Urban Outfitters. It's pieces you can put together, you don't have to look, it's all there. Topshop in the UK is so hard to avoid. I went in there the other day and my brain exploded. I wanted everything.
When you are on the red carpet, what do you wear?
Diane von Furstenberg is someone I really like. I really like Temperley. It's very feminine and vintage-inspired but not vintage. The pieces are evocative of different eras. But then I like really tight, sexy stuff too.
What are you excited to wear this spring and summer?
I am going to break out the dresses this year. I am going to boldly do it. I have a collection of vintage sundresses and I've never worn them because for some reason I always opt for shorts and a t-shirt. I wish I could commit to them. I will. I have a few really great pieces I've been holding onto for years.
What's next for you? You must be exhausted.
We've wrapped shooting, so I am just promoting the show and chilling for now. It's very nice to just relax.
Click through to see Maslany's many looks on the show and shop her favorite brands.