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Tag Archive: Ari Millen


Review by C.J. Bunce

So many books chronicle seasons of hit television series, but a new release for BBC’s Orphan Black takes viewers beyond the norm.  Like the incredible behind the scenes access we saw in Firefly–A Celebration, Abbie Bernstein’s new book The DNA of Orphan Black shows how the unique science fiction series creates its magic.  In 2013 we first saw Sarah Manning watch her doppelganger step out in front of a train.  Who knew how many clones we’d meet in the series, and how many roles Tatiana Maslany, last year’s Best Actress Emmy winner, could play in a single scene?  It’s not so difficult to wrap your head around the characters of the series because Maslany plays them all so well.  But when you try to list your favorite characters on the series, you momentarily forget “they” are a single actress portraying so many incredible people, and none like anyone you’ve seen before.

In The DNA of Orphan Black fans get unprecedented access to the development process, as told by the show’s creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson.  We learn how Maslany sees each character and created the nuances of each personality.  And we learn from the supporting cast, plus makeup designer Stephen Lynch, hair designer Sandy Sokolowski, costume designer Debra Hanson, art director Jody Clement, and production designer John Dondertman, and more.  Wrapping up its series finale in only four weeks, Orphan Black doesn’t have anything left to hide.  So we learn the tricks of the trade, and how the sleight of hand by the production team has created such complex scenes like Helena’s dream sequence and the clone dance party.  How do viewers know we’re not seeing Maslany’s Rachel, but her Krystal posing as Rachel?  Makeup designer Stephen Lynch explains how.  You’ll learn great tidbits about the show, like how the hair designer created only one “hero” wig for each of Maslany’s characters (each cost $5,000 to $8,000).

The DNA of Orphan Black is not just another TV show souvenir book.  It’s full of behind the scenes images, but it also includes surprisingly detailed interviews, thanks to author Abbie Bernstein (whose last book, The Great Wall–The Art of the Film, was one of the best film art books we’ve reviewed at borg.com).  You’ll see from the table of contents (below) that not only does Maslany provide a few pages of content as lead actor, as found in many TV books, each of her characters gets separate discussion as they would if they’d been played by different actors on any other series.  So as a fan you can get right to your favorite performance by Maslany.  Equal to Bernstein’s handling of the sestra clones is her attention to the key secondary characters: Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Art (Kevin Hanchard), Donnie (Kristian Bruun), Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Delphine (Evelyne Brochu), the Castor clones (Ari Millen), and probably most significantly, Maslany’s acting double, Kathryn Alexandre.

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Orphan Black Soundtrack cover

Orphan Black wrapped its best year yet Saturday with the third season finale “History Yet to be Written.”  Tatiana Maslany has secured her place in the acting elite with a solid third run in a role every actor dreams about–a true showcase of her talents.  This season she shared the multi-role acting gig with the Castor clone brothers played by Ari Millen.  Despite sharing screen-time with the Castors, and expanded roles for Mrs. S, Delphine, and the introduction of the vile Dr. Coady, Maslany created some of the best scenes in the entirety of the series this year.  Alison started a drug-and-soap business and ran for office and won (and had that off-the-wall bedroom scene with Donnie).  Cosima brought in Lost Girl star Ksenia Solo as a show regular, and doubled (awkwardly) for Alison in a campaign speech.  Rachel duped everyone after losing her eye.  And we met poor, new, completely baffled Krystal.  But nothing compares to the character arc developed over three seasons for the incredible Helena and her trusty scorpion adviser.

How could TV watchers possibly fall for a character like Helena?  Raised in a convent outside of any family, trained to be a cold-blooded killer, she would kill four of her clone sisters.  This season she befriended Alison’s husband Donnie, massacred a room full of drug dealers who threatened Alison’s kids, reunited with “boyfriend” Jesse, and proved her fighting skills could take the worst of the Castors out of the equation.  In one word, Maslany, as Helena, was brilliant.  Can the BBC keep up the momentum for season four?  While you’re waiting for 2016, you can pick up two albums released by the BBC and Varèse Sarabande Records.

Helena and Sarah

Sestra pals Helena and Sarah.  Insert your favorite Alanis Morissette song here.

The Orphan Black Original Television Score provides all the feel of the show a card-carrying Clone Club member could want.  Composer Trevor Yuile created a distinct sound for the show, mixing the eeriness of Angelo Badalamenti with the evocative repetition of John Carpenter and the mechanical sound of Massive Attack or Daft Punk.  Beginning with the psychedelic Orphan Black theme, which we only wish there was a full, expanded version, the album moves the listener between memorable themes.

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Orphan Black Season Three banner

Tonight we enter a new phase in the world of Orphan Black as a male clone begins to take over part of the spotlight.  How will a new male clone affect the clone sestrahood of Sarah Manning as we enter Season Three?  More to the point, how will the fans of the show–the Clone Club–respond to what must be less Tatiana Maslany?  It all sounds a bit risky but we’ll see how Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, will face off against clone brothers Mark, Miller, Rudy, and Seth tonight as Orphan Black returns to BBC America.

Actor Ari Millen takes on the male TV role of a lifetime playing all of the Castor clones–creepy, scary and unsettling characters–thwarting the efforts of the women clones to learn more about the circumstances leading to their creation.  No doubt the addition of multiple men clones will give some kind of well-earned break in the Season Three shooting schedule to Maslany, the hardest working actress anywhere for the past two years.

Ari Millen Orphan Black

With the typical BBC series lasting only two or three years, will the same happen for Orphan Black?  Maslany is rumored to be the star of the first Star Wars spin-off movie, directed by Godzilla’s Gareth Edwards, expected to begin production next April for a December 2016 release.  Recently Maslany reportedly dropped a role in an April timeframe play for a conflict–could it be that she will enter the big-time at the top of a Star Wars film?  Wouldn’t it be great if Lucasfilm and Disney pull something from the past and tap her to play the Emperor’s Hand–Mara Jade–or at least someone equally awesome?

Adam Hughes Mara Jade

Admit it! You’d love to see Tatiana Maslany as Mara Jade in the 2016 Star Wars spin-off, right?

Enough speculation!  Let’s check out some previews to Season Three of Orphan Black, after the break:

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