RUN THIS TOWN

HAV­ING WRAPPED HER EMMYWINNING RUN PLAY­ING A SIS­TER­HOOD OF CLONES ON OR­PHAN BLACK, TA­TIANA MASLANY PUT HER BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS INTO THE REAL-LIFE DRAMA STRONGER. THE ONLY PART SHE WON’T PLAY? CELEBRITY.

S/ - - CONTENTS - BY RYAN PORTER • PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY AN­GELO SGAMBATI

Emmy-win­ning ac­tor Ta­tiana Maslany talks about her emo­tional role in Stronger and the fi­nal days of Or­phan Black

“ACT­ING GROWS AS YOU GROW AS A PER­SON. AND I NEVER WANT TO STOP WORK­ING AT IT.”

Ta­tiana Maslany is chat­ting while cy­cling, bal­anc­ing both her groceries and her phone as she steers through the streets of Los An­ge­les. The 31-year-old Cana­dian ac­tor moved south from Toronto in May, and the city of stars has proved a fit­ting phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of Maslany’s mixed feel­ings about show busi­ness.

“I feel very cre­atively stim­u­lated,” the star of this fall’s Boston bomb­ing biopic Stronger says as she pulls up to the new home she shares with her part­ner, Welsh ac­tor Tom Cullen. “At the same time, there is the other side of the in­dus­try that I never signed up for that can get quite schmoozey and name dropy. It can feel quite gross. It’s this weird counter to what the thing is ac­tu­ally about, which is em­pa­thy and hu­man­ity and fun and imag­i­na­tion and make be­lieve. How can you do that when you are look­ing over every per­son’s shoul­der to see who is more fa­mous in the room?”

An ab­sence of star-struck won­der is one hint that Maslany is no in­génue. Her first gig came when she was “around nine” on the Cana­dian kids se­ries On My Mind, which was shot in her na­tive Regina. “In one way, it is com­pletely in­nate in chil­dren, make be­lieve and play and be­liev­ing in dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances,” she says. “But also it’s like, be quiet at this time, you have to work from 8 AM till 8 PM. It’s an odd jux­ta­po­si­tion.”

That early train­ing po­si­tioned Maslany to be­come the kind of ac­tor known for her ex­tra­or­di­nary dis­ci­pline. For her Emmy-win­ning role on Or­phan Black, Maslany fa­mously used ro­tat­ing playlists to get into char­ac­ter as a prissy housewife, hip­ster sci­en­tist, zany East­ern Euro­pean, street­wise sin­gle mom, and many of the other seven clones she played on the Cana­dian sci-fi se­ries, which aired its fi­nal episode last August af­ter five sea­sons.

But si­lence was her only sound cue for chan­nel­ing Erin Hur­ley for Stronger— a film based on the true story of Jeff Bau­man, who lost both his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb­ing. She found the char­ac­ter of the real-life marathon racer, whose on-off re­la­tion­ship with Jeff de­vel­ops a com­plex new di­men­sion af­ter the tragedy, in part by run­ning through the streets of Boston her­self, us­ing the sounds of the city as her sound­track.

Jake Gyl­len­haal was cast as Jeff early in the project’s de­vel­op­ment. Maslany laughs when this in­ter­viewer refers to her co-star as “Mr. Gyl­len­haal,” skep­ti­cally re­peat­ing, “Mr. Gyl­len­haal?” She calls him “Jake.” Their easy com­radery was ap­par­ent from the start. Di­rec­tor David Gor­don Green says he au­di­tioned many ac­tors for the role of Erin. “I just wanted to see who had what to say,” Green, a fan of Maslany’s from Or­phan Black, says. “I saw a lot of ac­tresses about it and very quickly nar­rowed it down to just [Maslany]. I got her in the room with Jake. There was in­stant chem­istry and en­ergy and cre­ativ­ity.” De­spite the skill she demon­strated on

Or­phan Black, play­ing Erin forced Maslany to stretch in un­fa­mil­iar ways. “I couldn’t run down the street with­out tast­ing blood in my mouth, so I re­ally had to work at that,” Maslany says. The day they filmed the Boston Marathon, Maslany ran for six hours, pur­posely keep­ing her­self pant­ing be­tween takes.

And yet those mo­ments of phys­i­cal ex­haus­tion pale com­pared to the emo­tional ex­er­tion Maslany en­dures on­screen. Gyl­len­haal’s Bau­man goes through mo­ments of ex­plo­sive frus­tra­tion dur­ing his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. “For me it was re­ally just be­liev­ing Jake’s per­for­mance and al­low­ing him to put me into that place,” she says. “Ev­ery­body be­lieved that the cir­cum­stances were hap­pen­ing, so it was just easy to be there.”

Maslany would spend her days as his spar­ring part­ner, then at­tend live stand-up com­edy by David Cross, Steve Martin, and Martin Short in the evenings. “It was a nice re­lief af­ter a day of very heavy lift­ing,” she ad­mits, adding, “I have no com­plaints about hav­ing to go into those places. The plea­sure in the job is get­ting to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing with peo­ple and feel it with them.”

Less in­spir­ing for Maslany is the red-car­pet Olympics that ac­tresses are all but forced to par­tic­i­pate in, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing awards sea­son. Yet by work­ing with stylist Mi­caela Er­langer, a favourite of Lupita Ny­ong’o and Jared Leto, she’s found an un­showy style that projects the same low-key con­fi­dence that is con­sis­tent across her per­for­mances.

One favourite look was the red Alexan­der Wang cut-out gown she wore to the Em­mys last year. “That dress was just so com­fort­able and felt so sexy and pow­er­ful with­out feel­ing like some­thing that I had seen be­fore,” she says. “I just felt so con­fi­dent in it. I was my­self in that dress.” Also nor­mal­iz­ing that surreal even­ing was hav­ing Cullen walk the red car­pet with her. De­spite win­ning Out­stand­ing Ac­tress in a Drama Se­ries for

Or­phan Black, in photos from that even­ing, Maslany looks the most joy­ful with her arm wrapped around Cullen’s back, look­ing up into his eyes.

The cou­ple met on the set of the his­tor­i­cal minis­eries World With­out End and have now been to­gether for six years. Ear­lier this year, he made a cameo on Or­phan Black, play­ing a las­civ­i­ous cos­met­ics CEO busted by Maslany’s beauty vlog­ger clone Krys­tal. Maslany got to make out with Cullen, then kick him in the balls. “It’s so funny, hey?” she says. “We did a film two years ago ( The Other Half) where we played th­ese tor­tured souls that are try­ing to forge a nor­mal re­la­tion­ship. This was like slap­stick and beat­ing each other up.”

By con­trast, Maslany never cried harder than she did while filming Or­phan Black’s fi­nal episodes. One scene saw sub­ur­ban housewife Ali­son on Skype with two of the clones, Sarah and Cosima. “I was al­ready sad enough say­ing good­bye to Ali­son and my nose just started pour­ing blood,” she says. “It to­tally ru­ined the take. It was so gross. It was so frus­trat­ing that that was my last mo­ment with her, just Kleenex stuffed up my nose, try­ing not to get it on the car­pet.”

What’s next for Maslany? Sur­pris­ingly for an ac­tor who spun a role on a cult hit into an Emmy win through sheer force of tal­ent, she con­tin­ues to study her craft. For a life-long per­former such as Maslany, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Act­ing grows as you grow as a per­son,” she ex­plains. “It’s frus­trat­ingly not a con­crete thing where you can say, ‘now I’ve got it.’ It’s a con­stant process. And I never want to stop work­ing at it.”

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