Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black is thankful for TV technology

Tatiana Maslany playing Sarah and Rachel in the Space hit show Orphan Black. (Handout)

Tatiana Maslany playing Sarah and Rachel in the Space hit show Orphan Black. (Handout)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:09 PM ET

Tatiana Maslany has Bette Davis eyes.

Well, kinda sorta, with some 21st-century TV technology enhancing her vision.

Maslany, of course, is the star of Orphan Black, which returns for its second season Saturday, April 19 on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States. Maslany plays multiple clones in the show, and while her performance rightfully has attracted many awards and widespread praise, she knows she was born at the right time, technologically speaking.

“That's what amazes me so much about our show, the effects, the technology, is unbelievable,” said Maslany, who often is called upon to play more than one character in the same scene. “We even can watch it while we're shooting a scene. We can watch it play back, with a sort of semi-composite, and it almost looks ready for the camera.

“It has advanced so much. There are so many 'doubling' things that happened in the past. You know, Bette Davis did it. And it's cheesy or whatever, because you can see the line. We're so lucky. I don't think this show could have existed had it not been at this time.

“Even three years ago it wouldn't have been as good. It's better every year, and the more we work with that techno-dolly, the better we get at it, and the more we can push the limits and do insane things.”

And yet Maslany also knows the real beauty of Orphan Black is that it's a technology-reliant show that doesn't feel like a technology-reliant show, either when you're watching it or working on it.

“It's shot like a show that doesn't have clones on it, do you know what I mean?” Maslany said. “They shoot it like a scene happening between two actors, with an establishing shot, with closeups, with moves of the camera. So you're never drawing attention to the artifice of it. Whatever cool trickery we can put in there, we do. But all of us are focused on telling the story, and not making it about the clones in the scene.

“I really took notice of that in the season-one scene between Sarah and Helena (two of Maslany's clone characters) when they're sitting in the diner and it's just shot normally. There are a couple shots where you can kind of see us together. But it's just a normal scene, so you invest in the characters as individuals. I think that's so important, or else it would just become a gimmick.”

In the second-season premiere, Sarah (Maslany, of course) is desperate to find her daughter, and her scorched-earth tactics bring her face-to-face with the dangerous "pro-clone" Rachel (Maslany). Meanwhile, Alison (Maslany) sees cracks in her carefully crafted suburban world, even as the genetic illness affecting Cosima (Maslany) threatens all the clones.

Whatever happens, it will be seamless technologically. Orphan Black is no Bette Davis movie.

“Yeah, it would suck to have been Bette Davis,” said a laughing Tatiana Maslany, her voice dripping with comic sarcasm.

Hmmm, I guess that's a pretty bad example I used. You get the point, though.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv


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