'Orphan Black': Creators reveal more secrets from the set (like that Delphine was originally a 'kooky Asian scientist')

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Image Credit: BBC America

How much of that science on Orphan Black is actually real? How long does it take to film a scene with multiple clones? What clones did Tatiana Maslany play in her audition? And which other OB cast member auditioned for the role of Sarah Manning? In part 2 of our joint conversation leading into the season 2 premiere on April 19, co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett chatted about all this and more from their on-set office in Toronto. (Check out part 1 right here.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much do you guys look at what is happening in the world of science and how much do you incorporate that?

GRAEME MANSON: We want it to be as grounded as possible in real science, but we aren’t afraid to take that one step over the line into science fiction. And part of that is having these characters react realistically to these concepts, not just having the scientific reality. So it’s something that we try very hard to do. When you keep at it, it’s strange how you do rub up against reality.

JOHN FAWCETT: Things are moving so quickly from the medical and science point of view, so the realities of things are so much closer than you would think.

EW: How long does it take you to shoot a scene with two clones?

FAWCETT: Generally, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb to think that if there was two of them and it was just a dialogue scene, it’s usually fairly quick to shoot. You wouldn’t spend more than two-and-a-half hours on a two-hander. But as soon as you add these special logistics, she’s playing both parts or we’re doing lock-off angles…put it this way, there are simpler ways to achieve clone scenes and more complicated ways. With a couple simple visual effects you’re doubling your time, double and a bit with the character changes, depending on the clone. Like switching between Sarah and Alison is fairly quick turn over, but going to Rachel? Those turnovers are a lot longer, like an hour-and-a-half. So you’re into a four-to-five hour shoot.

EW: Do you worry about burning out Tatiana?

FAWCETT: We did last year, but this year we’re not worried because we’ve already introduced the world, so we can step away from Tat a little bit and go with our guest cast. Give her a little rest. Because we have a few more days now, we’re not shooting the idiot overtime hours that we were last year. So that’s where we’ve gained back a little bit of sanity. I think when I see her on set, she doesn’t look…I mean she’s up for it. Now it’s 2.0 and we’re doing things a little differently and we’re streamlined.

EW: What’s it been like to hear the fan response?

FAWCETT: It’s been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It’s been unbelievable. I was talking to Tat about this earlier because we were laughing about a scene we were filming that isn’t something you would ever do on another TV show. I feel really fortunate. People really respond to it.

MANSON: People dig it for how crazed it is. They realize that it’s a high wire act, which is cool. When people like Sarah Silverman are tweeting about the show, or great show-runners, we’re like f—, that’s so awesome! Also we’d feel it a lot differently if we were in Los Angeles. Here we are up in Toronto and that really helps us keep our heads out of it.

FAWCETT: We love our fans and we love the fans trying to guess where it’s going. But we really put the pressure on ourselves to make the show that we feel is the right thing to do and not let too many other things influence us. I haven’t been watching anything since we started. I’ve seen a couple of movies. We’re just heads down, doing our thing.

MANSON: And our collaboration with Tat makes this whole process strong. She puts an incredible amount of trust in us and embraces these storylines. I think her taste is really similar to ours. She likes a lot of different genres. She likes mash-ups. She gets them all. She can do different tones. She loves to play.

FAWCETT: Plus, she always has great ideas. There’s always this sort of ‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ Even story or character elements of hers find their way into scripts. You just kind of feed off of each other.

EW: The job Tatiana does is even more amazing to me after hearing that this is her first real adult role.

MANSON: She was playing a lot of young characters before this. She was still playing teenagers.

FAWCETT: Yeah, we were the first ones to actually cast her as her age. She’d only played teenagers. Isn’t that hilarious? If you see her in person, you understand why. But yeah, we saw everyone in auditions, and in the end there was no contest.

EW: What clones did she play when she auditioned for you guys? 

FAWCETT: She played Sarah, Beth, Cosima, Alison. She played those four.

MANSON: She also played the German. We had to do the German accent.

FAWCETT: One of the things that Tatiana did that I know came from her audition, is that when she came in to play Cosima, she had glasses on. Those glasses just stuck. From that point on, Cosima was going to wear glasses. And that is one of the defining elements of that character. She came in over a series of auditions and ultimately a network callback. And that’s when we wound up sticking her with Jordan.

MANSON: And there were some great actors in the shortlist. Evelyne Brochu was there.

FAWCETT: That’s true. Good point.

MANSON: We liked Evelyne so much that we wrote her in.

FAWCETT: Yeah, I think Delphine started off like as a little kooky Asian scientist. But then Graene was like, “What if we make her French and hire Evelyne?”

MANSON: The other thing we like doing is even the people you like, even the people closest to you are painted in shades of grey. Particularly Mrs. S this season. Whose side is she on? And that goes through with Evelyne to Delphine.

FAWCETT: Who do you trust? That net goes deep. It’s exciting.

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