On the 'Parks & Rec' Set with Tatiana Maslany
When December 31 rolls around, you'll be hard-pressed to find another TV star on more Year End Best Of lists than Tatiana Maslany thanks to the astounding performance(s) she delivers on BBC America's equally intoxicating Orphan Black. But before she traveled back to Toronto to film season two, Maslany swung by Pawnee, Indiana for a two-episode guest stint on NBC's Parks and Recreation this August.
Beginning this Thursday, Maslany will play Nadia, a local doctor who catches Tom's eye. I hung out in Tatiana's Parks and Rec trailer in between takes (they were filming at a local roller rink) to find out why she was so excited to guest star on this show, discover which co-star is a card carrying member of the Clone Club and learn what she's most excited to explore in the second season of Orphan Black!
ETonline: How did you come to guest star on Parks and Recreation?
Tatiana Maslany: Well, this is my favorite comedy, so when the producers reached out and asked if I wanted to do the show and I was like, "Obviously!" I mean, I'm terrified to do it but Amy Poehler is absolutely all my heroes. I've looked up to for years so to be here is kind of crazy.
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ETonline: It's smart comedy that lets women play women, not ...
Maslany: "Boob girls." Yeah, you're right, the show is anchored by incredibly strong comedic females. And that's so rare on TV today. I think Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have done so much for women in comedy in the sense that they've normalized it. You don't think, "I'm going to watch that comedy starring a woman," you think, "I'm going to watch that funny show." They refuse to play the foils for men, or be reduced to the butt of every joke, and I love that about both of them.
ETonline: You have a background in improv, so does this feel more natural to you?
Maslany: I've done a lot of improv, but never in this kind of context or on this kind of platform. Drama is where I feel comfortable, so I actually find this scarier than diving into Orphan Black again. I know those characters so well now and that set feels like my home, so it's intimidating coming into a new thing, but this is exactly the kind of test I need now to get myself back into acting.
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ETonline: What do you like about Nadia?
Maslany: She's an interesting combination of super responsible and careless, and Tom's character lets her be young and dumb and fun, so she doesn't have to be the responsible doctor she is every day. Which is a relief. For me, it's about the connection between those two.
ETonline: Today you're wearing scrubs. Have you ever been this comfortable at work before?
Maslany: Never. It's the greatest outfit I've ever worn. And it's just one outfit, one character, one accent -- dude, it's amazing.
ETonline: And you're zooming around the set on these rollerskates!
Maslany: I grew up in Canada, man -- we all had rinks in our backyards because we'd ice down the grass with a hose and build a skating rink.
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ETonline: Orphan Black is an incredibly popular show with actors. Who's a fan on set?
Maslany: Rashida and Retta are super into it. I think it's something every actor would want to do, so they get excited by the prospect of it and how it works logistically. Everyone has been so ridiculously supportive, which has been really cool.
ETonline: Are they trying to get season two spoilers outta you?
Maslany: Nah, it's cool because I don't know anything anyway [laughs]. This woman and her mother came up to me at the airport the other day wanting to talk all about season two and all I could say was, "Yeah, I can't wait to find out because I don't know what the hell is going on either."
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ETonline: You're about to dive back into filming season two. We've talked about how emotionally taxing the experience of season one was on you, so are you preparing any differently this time around?
Maslany: I have to trust that I've established them last year, so I'm just really willing to bust the open and explore them in ways I didn't expect. I'm open for change and that's what is so exciting about season two: we won't be treading the same ground. They're going to be pushed in new directions, but I do feel a little bit ignorant in the sense that I think, "Yeah, this will be easy." Like, my body forgot how hard it was -- like with giving birth! Your body goes into shock to forget the pain so you do it again [laughs].
ETonline: Which storyline are you most excited to see play out this year?
Maslany: I’m excited to see what the hell is going on with Rachel and I'm really excited about Sarah because what happened in the finale really changed her. You're not the same person once you've killed somebody. Although, I guess Alison's in the same boat. Although for her, it feels more right for Alison to have gone there [laughs]. Like, of course she killed someone. That was inevitable. For Sarah, it's going to be a big shift and I can't wait to see how they play with the reality of what that does to her. And where Kira is. No, seriously, where is Kira?!? [laughs] They’re all in this insane place this year.
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC, Orphan Black premieres April 2014.