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Rising star Tatiana Maslany’s balancing act

‘I’m really snobby in terms of the music and the movies I like. I’m a nerd in terms of, like, my movie shelf,’ says Tatiana Maslany.

Nathan Denette/CP

Tatiana Maslany is juggling so many roles, you wonder whether she even knows who she is when she wakes up in the morning. The 28-year-old Regina native and star of breakout sci-fi TV series Orphan Black – a co-production between Space and BBC America about a group of women who discover they are clones (all played by Maslany) – is also quite at home on the indie scene. For his first theatrical feature, Cas & Dylan, actor-director Jason Priestley tapped Maslany to play a free-spirited foil to Richard Dreyfuss's terminally ill doctor bent on suicide. The newcomer balances the veteran with so much energy and charm that it's almost as if playing only one role is too easy for her.

Did you and Richard Dreyfuss improvise much of the banter? It seemed very natural and unforced.

We would banter every now and then, but I think most of what ended up in the film was scripted. Richard's really good at elevating things, where it's as though you're just talking. It's a testament to his work, obviously. He's incredible.

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One reviewer said "the ending happens exactly as you'd expect," and I thought that might have meant a May-September romance.

[She laughs] Oh my god, no. I think Jason wanted to make sure it stayed dark. I know it's hopeful and it's got that sense of starting a new life, but we don't go Hollywood-ending on it. I think that was quite brave.

Have you ever done the cross-country drive?

I've done Regina to Vancouver a couple of times for improv festivals, when I was younger. It's amazing. We did it in blizzards most of the time, so you couldn't really see farther than two feet ahead of you.

I saw your music playlist online and noticed you've got some pretty obscure acts in there. Are you a hipster?

I'm such a hipster! All I'm lacking is the obvious moustache. I'm really snobby in terms of the music and the movies I like. I'm a nerd in terms of, like, my movie shelf, or my Netflix queue, if I had Netflix. I don't even have a TV.

Is it challenging being a lead actor in a sci-fi show? The fans are really engaged.

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Yeah, it's a whole other world I don't know anything about, really. I'm way more comfortable doing smaller indie films like Cas & Dylan or Grown Up Movie Star – people watch these films, but it's not like they follow your life, you know? [Orphan Black has] such great fans and I don't think we'd be on TV if it weren't for them, but at the same time, it's strange.

Saying things on Twitter and having it read through the lens of your characters must be kinda weird.

Yeah, or with movies I've done, they're like, 'Oh, this is cowboy clone,' and I'm like, 'No, it's a different character, it's not a clone.'

What background do people who don't know your actual cultural background (German-Ukrainian) think you are?

I've been told I have 'ethnic hair,' whatever that means. I get Portuguese, Spanish sometimes.

Is one particular clone more difficult to play than the others?

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Rachel this season was really exciting – she's the very corporate clone. She is the most removed from who I am as far as aesthetics go, externally. And then, internally, she's got this elegance and this quiet sort of power and confidence, and this stillness. That's who I would love to pretend I could be, but I never get called for those parts.

Is that a fair characterization of who you are, that you are more like the rebellious characters?

I'm so, so not. I'd be closer to Alison, I think – she's the soccer mom. I'm so boring [laughs].

This interview has been condensed and edited. Cas & Dylan is in select theatres now. Season 2 of Orphan Black premieres April 19 on Space.

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