Tatiana Maslany on Why Revisiting 'Orphan Black' Two Years After It Ended Was a 'No-Brainer' (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Orphan Black's sestras are back... but in a new form.
Two years after BBC America's sci-fi clone drama wrapped its five-season run, Tatiana Maslany returns to voice beloved clones Sarah, Alison, Cosima and more, as they embark on a new adventure through Serial Box's upcoming audiobook series, Orphan Black: The Next Chapter.
Set eight years after the series finale, the trio -- joined by old and new faces, including another clone named Vivi Valdez -- are forced out of hiding when an international disaster threatens the private lives they've become accustomed to leading.
The 33-year-old actress credits the fans, who endearingly refer to themselves as the Clone Club, as a major reason she felt a desire to keep the universe alive. "There were so many loose ends left unanswered in terms of the end of the series, and this is sort of a fun way to explore those and continue to expand the world," Maslany tells ET. "The intention was to do something that the fans could geek out over... because the fans are the only reason we got to do the show in the first place."
With the help of some fan questions culled from Twitter, ET spoke with Maslany about revisiting Orphan Black, the series for which she won an Emmy; the biggest questions she had after the series finale; and what makes her say "yes" to projects now.
ET: It's been two years, almost to the day, since Orphan Black ended on BBC America. Why was now the time for the show to come back in this new audiobook form?
Tatiana Maslany: It's a cool thing that the fans have remained loyal to the show in a way that's really awesome and bolstering. There were so many loose ends left unanswered in terms of the end of the series, and this is sort of a fun way to explore those and continue to expand the world. I think the intention really was to do something that the fans could geek out over, which is a really exciting thing for us because the fans are the only reason we got to do the show in the first place. So yeah, we're very grateful to them.
For some actors, they would be more disinterested in taking on an opportunity to revisit old, familiar characters. Was the addition of new clones and new characters a must for you or did you simply miss these women and this world?
Yeah, I mean, I was excited to be part of expanding the universe and it's sort of a no-brainer for me to do it. A couple people that I know are writing on it and they're really talented: Heli Kennedy, who was part of our show in the beginning, pretty close from the start. I think she's really talented and I was happy to be part of something with her. For me, I had no demands in terms of what it had to be. I just knew to trust in these cool women who are writing on it and all the research they've been doing and the scientists they were talking to and the tech people they were talking to. In classic Orphan Black style, there was a lot of nerdy research going on to make sure that it was sci-fi accurate and all that.
The Next Chapter is set a significant amount of time after the series finale: eight years later. The sestras are forced to come out of hiding to help stop a global disaster. What can you tease about this new chapter to the story?
Obviously a lot has changed for all of the clones in terms of the past 10 years. But true to human nature, a lot has stayed the same as well. They're definitely trying to live full lives. But being a clone means certain concessions and they have to stay in hiding. For them to see that there are more clones out there and that Rachel's list wasn't complete? For me, one of the most exciting bits is exploring Kira and Charlotte. These two are outsiders of the clones. Who are they now, 10 years later? How have they been shaped by the pressures of the world that they've grown up in? How have they come to be their own people within it? That's really exciting to me.
Could we hear familiar voices from the original series pop up?
Yeah. There's definitely a lot of familiar voices and then my attempt to do some voices that weren't me in the show. (Laughs.)
Kristian, who [plays Donny] is my comfort zone, and it gives me a chance to make fun of Kristian Bruun, which is great. (Laughs.)
For me, I'm still learning about stuff. We've only recorded a few of the episodes so far. The clones' private lives going public is a big thing and that was something I remember [Orphan Black showrunners] John [Fawcett] and Graeme [Manson] talking about and thinking that something was going to happen in the series. There's something about that where it's just blown open and suddenly, the privacy of these clones -- which has always been a thing that they've had to contend with, a lack of privacy -- to have it so public... not just within the science community but within the larger community is interesting to me. And sort of speaks to where we're at, I think, as a culture in terms of privacy. That's always been something that intrigued me in terms of the show and that's something that we expand upon here.
Voice acting is a whole other art form. In doing these new episodes, was there something you learned during the process that you didn't expect? Was there a new skill you learned that you didn't know you were capable of?
I've always had such a reverence for voice actors. Growing up, Billy West was one of my heroes because he was such an incredible...like, I was obsessed with him and I continue to be obsessed with him. I've had the chance to sit in at a Futurama live-read and watch him do all of these characters in the moment, responding to each other with his comedic timing and it's something. That world is such an art form and so underrated, so to get to do my own version of it, which is more audiobook-style is such a skill. I have just so much respect for it and love to get to have the chance to do it. It feels a little bit like the private little imagination space that you get to go into, you know? Reading aloud for that long.
How did you approach voicing all these characters because when you're in front of the camera, you can put on a wig and the wardrobe and you become that character. Did you find yourself still doing that when you stepped into the recording booth?
It's more just about, like, physically using your imagination to picture the characters and speak through them. So it's way less, like, what clothes I've got on that are different or the external stuff. It's more finding the vocal expressions through different registers and picturing my face looking differently or where my breathing comes from, that kind of thing.
You're on Broadway doing Network and you're starring in HBO's Perry Mason. What makes you say "yes" to a character or a project at this point in your career?
I'm so lucky. I'm just drawn to characters that are challenging for me and different and don't feel like something I've seen before or that I've done before. And, you know, even if I'm reprising a role like Diana in Network, it's my own version of her. I really enjoy what makes her a unique human being to what makes her strange and weird. I'm really excited by people who I find interesting and characters that I find scary and uncharted. I definitely feel that way with Perry Mason. I'm playing a preacher in the 1930s, which is such a trip and definitely never saw that one coming, you know what I mean? I'm always excited to be surprised.
The first episode of Orphan Black: The Next Chapter audiobook launches Thursday, Sept. 12 on Serial Box, with subsequent installments available weekly. The full season is available for $9.99 through Thursday, Sept. 19, after which the price goes up to $12.99.
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