It was exactly one year ago that a little TV show called Orphan Black came to Toronto ComiCon for some pre-release buzz; the panel took place in a small room and maybe a couple of dozen curious fans came in. Fast-forward a year and there are enough Orphan Black fans to fill one of the biggest panel rooms, and then some. This was the scene for series’ stars Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris on Saturday afternoon. In front of a standing room only crowd of (predominantly) female fans, Maslany and Gavaris recalled their roller coaster first season and teased the highly anticipated season two.
“I’m still shaking. It’s totally amazing,” said Maslany on the Orphan Black experience. Just one year ago she was a struggling actress, and now she’s won or been nominated for multiple awards for portraying the many clones at the heart of a conspiracy on the Space/BBC America series.
It didn’t take long for the season two speculation to come up in conversation, and Gavaris went to a line he used at the Television Critics Association panel for the show. “Season one was conception and season two is evolution,” he said coyly. “You think you know, but you don’t know [where it’s going].”
Although Innerspace host Ajay Fry tried to get the actors to spill with a well-phrased gotcha question, “What is the most difficult spoiler to keep?” he asked, but Maslany and Gavaris know how to keep their secrets well. “[Series creator] Graeme [Manson] is here right now with a sniper rifle on us both,” Maslany joked.
Manson was actually in the audience sitting in the front row, and was later invited to join his stars on stage. “It was such a crazy and intense sort of process,” he said about the casting process for the show. For Maslany that meant a two-day performance in front of producers and network executives executing a number of the clone roles including Sarah, Alison, Alison posing as Beth and the German clone Katja. “For these guys it was the worst kind of audition to go to,” added Manson.
Soon the truly nerdy questions began, many of which were variations on which clone would win in a fight (or if they were all competitors in the Hunger Games). Someone else asked the actors if they could compare their characters to any superhero or villain, who would they be? “I think Felix would be Aquaman,” said Garvaris. “If you don’t get that reference, watch Family Guy.”
For Maslany, the question was trickier given the fact that she plays about seven different characters at any given time. “I just thought of all the Archie characters,” she said before being rescued by Manson who suggested Veronica from Archie for Alison, Tank Girl for Sarah, and Watchmen’s Rorschach for Helena. “Or Animal from The Muppets,” Maslany added.
Along similar lines, a fan asked Maslany which clone she had the most in common with, and the answer was the show’s resident “evo-devo” Cosima Niehaus. “She’s not as burdened down and she has a lightness about her I can relate to,” she said. As for least like, Maslany said Rachel, although that may change with the new episodes. “We’ve been able to dive into her and get behind that cold ass exterior,” she added.
There was also a technical question concerning exactly how a TV series were one actress plays most of the main characters is able to be made. “It’s a tennis ball sometimes,” Maslany explained. “But I also have an amazing clone-double in Kathryn Alexandre. She shows up everyday and performs right along with me, as well as being spontaneous and throwing things at me. I couldn’t do this job without her.”
Soon the conversation turned back to discussion of the upcoming second season, including some good news and some (potentially) bad news.
The good news came when a fan asked about Felix’s relationship status in the new season. “That is a very good question, and the answer is yes, there will definitely be some loving for Felix [this season],” said Garvaris. “It’s all part of making him different and seeing another side of Felix.”
As to the bad news, it was pointed out that with the main actress playing so many characters, it was possible to kill off one of the clones without losing the show’s main talent. So, will we say a permanent goodbye to one of the ladies this season? Manson considered this very carefully before offering a kind of definitive “Yes.” So prepare yourselves Orphan Black fans, you’ve been warned.
To wrap up, the question was asked about the magnificent reception to a Canadian TV show by an international audience, and how the process might be duplicated in the future. “You have to create and write what you love and it has to be universal,” Manson said. “Then it’s about finding the friends and the crew that can help you put together your vision. We are a Canadian-made show and we’re proud of it.”
The panel wrapped with a draw for 150 passes to get autographs from Maslany and Garvaris, which meant that about 350 other people (or more) were going to leave the room disappointed. Between that, the accolades, and the one girl doing a spot on Cosima cosplay, really only one thought comes to mind: what a difference a year makes.
Orphan Black season two premieres on April 19th on both BBC America and Space.