Anyone who waited even a few moments too long to get into the line for the panel for the “Orphan Black” panel at Comic-Con 2013 probably didn’t get into the crowded (and undersized) room. While some people still don’t know about the BBC America break-out hit (many of them Emmy voters), it’s not a good idea to underestimate the loyalty of the fan base.
Shortly before the panel began, fans chanted, “Orphan Black” as a camera man shot footage of the crowd, screaming as the camera swept over them. Then, as a montage of clips from season 1 played, there was more screaming. Suffice it to say, people were really, really excited to be there.
Co-creator John Fawcett and Graeme Manson joined stars Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris and Tatiana Maslany on the panel, and after fans screamed a little more and stood to take pictures, the questions began. The first one went to, of course, Maslany. How difficult was it to play so many characters? “I went into hiding after we finished shooting, because I was exhausted. It was such an exhilarating experience… There was always a new character to switch into. I was running on adrenaline the entire time.”
Then, it was time for everyone on the panel to reveal the name of their favorite clone. Gavaris said, “I know this is very jarring because you were expecting an English accent. I think to play off of Allison, but I think I’m kind of Team Cosima.”
“It’s probably jarring because I’m not speaking in my Batman voice, but I would say Allison as well. One word — yoga pants,” Bruce joked.
“I love Cosima because she’s very West Coast and she’s based on a real person. She’s our friend, and she’s our science advisor who studies the history of science at the University of Minnesota.”
“Normally I would say Allison, but I’m going to say Helena, because we fussed over that costume for so long, how are we going to get her sneaking into the police station. What’s more fun than having someone that’s crazy? The fun of Helena was making someone who’s dangerous and scary sympathetic,” Fawcett said.
When it was suggested that Allison was based on Fawcett’s own sister, he sighed, “Yes, but she doesn’t know that, though.”
Next, Bruce was asked to discuss his character. “He’s a very conflicted individual to be sure. I knew where the arc was going, but I would tell everybody he’s just the perfect boyfriend, and now I’m like ha ha fooled you. I think he’s suffering from PTSD and the guilt he’s stricken with from Beth’s suicide. He doesn’t know where he should do. His morals are very compromised in the show. I think they’ll take him somewhere very interesting next year.”
The issue of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that human DNA could not be legally patented also came up. “I think thematically definitely. That decision was really crazy coming on the heels, and… what is synthetic? We will be looking at the legal issue. It’s always cool when you hit some kind of zeitgeist and the world is reflected in your show,” Manson said.
But it was time to get on to the actual issue of the show. Will there be more clones? “We are making this wacky little clone show and we do like our clones. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if we unveiled a couple new clones in season two,” Fawcett hinted.
Then, it was time for Maslany to talk about the music that inspires her when getting into character. “I think I was listening to “a boy like that kill your brother,” [from] ‘West Side Story’ for Allison. For her, it’s all show tunes; she’s in a heightened reality, [Cosima] is electro indie grind, she’s been known to do a rave dance minus the glow sticks, Sarah is The Street and The Prodigy, Helena is also the Prodigy and Anthony and the Johnsons. Rachel is me. Rachel is my ’90s slow jams with a z.”
The panel started joking about Felix’s luxurious (and, in real life, expensive apartment. “Teddy’s been coming over a lot lately,” Gavaris joked. “We did a little Nerd HQ panel before hand, so you all heard me sing.” The rest of the panel as well as the crowd then urged him to sing, and he finally decided on Taylor Swift’s “Little Sparks Fly.” For the record, Gavaris has a lovely voice.
He also discussed Felix’s artwork. “I kept thinking Banksy, all these urban artists from LA. And I walk in and they say we have a surprise… penises! I was like great, yes, sure, this is fantastic! So that’s the origin of the homoerotic art in Felix’s loft.”
As to when everyone knew the show was a cultural touchstone was the next question for the panel. Fawcett said, “It’s been a remarkable experience from the beginning. For me, it was watching Tat win the Critic’s Choice award. She blows my mind.”
Manson added, “There was a day in the writers’ room where we explored Tumblr for about an hour, and we loved it. Everyone has picked up the little show and put it on their shoulders. That was a real moment for a bunch of us to realize the fans we had, and they’re so creative.”
“I Googled Paul’s rear end, and a bunch of rear ends showed up that belonged to me. It was a very poignant moment. I called my mom and said, ‘Mom, I made it. My rear end’s on the Internet.’ And she said, ‘I’m proud of you,'” Bruce said.
“I got a really racy Facebook message from a very nice man in Oregon I believe. I knew people were watching the show. It’s always surprising when anyone is watching,” Gavaris added
“For me it was Tumblr as well. The artwork is incredible, it’s so detailed and amazing. And the critical essays that have been written about it. There’s feminist writers about the themes of the show, exploring the individuality of these women, which really speaks to my heart and was exciting to me,” Maslany said.
The star also addressed the issue of one clone who won’t be returning — Helena. “I loved her so much. She’s such a weirdo and it’s so fun to go to that place as an actor… it was sad.”
Cosima’s illness was also a topic. “She now has to look at her own science, and I think that’s going to be really interesting. When she looks at her own science, she looks at all her sisters’ too. I think she’s a brave character. The truth is, it’s still up in the air. Even we don’t know,” Manson said.
So, what’s the status of season two? Fawcett said, “We’re in the midst of writing, we have been for… a couple months now. It’s been busy busy, let me tell you. We finished the season 1 finale a week and a half before it aired, then I had a week off… and we are back prepping to shoot September 23. I shot episodes one and two together as one long shoot the first time, and we’re gonna do that again.”
He then confirmed that season two will hit the airwaves in April 2014.
With that important news out of the way, it was on to fun stuff, like why Felix walks around mostly named. “He finds pants very confining,” Gavaris explains. “It’s really the childlike innocence that is Felix.”
Fawcett encouraged him to tell the audience about how he pitched the idea of doing nudity in his audition. “I will give you the wanky existential option of why I wanted to get naked of the Cliff notes.” When the audience bellowed, “both,” he explained. “I feel like I was a really straight-laced kid growing up, and acting is about doing things you’ve never done. I’d seen a lot of ’70s counter culture films, and I thought I want to do that, I want to go naked, even though I didn’t know why at the time. So I looked John straight in the face and said ‘I’ll show it all. I’ll go naked as much as you want me to. I’ll go naked all the time.” And he said, ‘I may keep you to that.’ I keep my pants on when I’m not on set.”
When it came time for fan questions, one was about flashbacks to clones now gone, like Katja. “The show has a pace that charges forward,” Manson said. “We couldn’t really find a way to flashback in season two and keep the pace up. We’re gonna try to do it somehow. We’d love to do that pre story. It could be in season 3 or season 5.”
“There has been discussion of the Beth episode,” Fawcett added.
When asked about her most intense scenes, Maslany said, “The first three clone scene we did was really intense. It was a long day, and getting all of the moves right, all of the eyelines right. The hospital stuff with Kira, the whole series, a lot of the arc is that family core, so it was quite an intense shoot for us.”
“Having Helena in the cage was intense for us,” Manson added. “Tat was like, can I have a little wheel?”
“Put my droppings in the corner,” the star joked.
“But for us, to see it, was really intense. It was hard to watch,” Manson said.
Maslany was asked if there were any accents she still wants to do, or any she feared having to tackle. “Jordan can do an amazing Scottish. But that would be a terrifying one. Scottish or Irish. There’s a lot of European dialects I an really interested in. American dialects, too. New York would be amazing, Boston would be incredible. Wicked. I don’t know, it’s endless. I’m up for whatever.” I’m sure all the fans of the show are probably thinking, “Glad to hear it!”