'Orphan Black' Creators Talk Season Two!
There's a decent chance you didn't listen when I began shouting "ORPHAN BLACK IS THE BEST SHOW ON TV RIGHT NOW!!!" back in April. But in the two months that followed, as additional episodes reaffirmed my assertion, people were joining The Clone Club in droves and Tweeting about their newfound obsession with BBC America's endlessly inventive genetic mystery series. And while a huge amount of that adoration has been (justly) lavished on star, and Critics Choice Award winner, Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black would be nothing without creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson.
Inspired by a single idea -- "Wouldn't it be cool if you saw yourself on a train platform and then you killed yourself?" -- Fawcett and Manson embarked on a journey that gave birth to countless clones, 2013's best new series and one of the most unexpectedly topical TV shows in recent memory.
With season one recently wrapped and the writer's room hard at work on breaking season two, I caught up with the guys to talk about their shining star, the biggest surprise of season one and what fans can expect from season two!
ETonline: What was the casting process like for you two?
John Fawcett: We knew we had a show that really hinged on the abilities of our lead actor. She is essentially all the female leads, so we knew how important the casting of that role was -- we'd either knock it out of the park or we'd go down with the ship. So we put a lot of pressure on ourselves in casting and spent an awful lot of time seeing everyone. We saw Tatiana early-ish in the process, but we wanted to make sure we kinda saw everything. There were some very talented women who came in, but inevitably, there was always one thing missing: you wouldn't like her Cosima or you didn't buy her British accent. It was really like casting five roles at the same time. It's been unbelievable to see Tatiana received in the way she has been. She's elevated the show beyond where we thought it would be in season one.
Graeme Manson: One of the other things about Tatiana's winning of the role was the incredible sense of play she brought and her ability to shift gears between characters. To have her absolutely own that part and the technical aspects of it, she deserves every lick of recognition she’s getting now. It's great for her and it's obviously really great for the show.
ETonline: Looking back on season one, do you feel like it accomplished everything you set out for it to?
Fawcett: The thing I like about our partnership is we set the bar really high for ourselves. We want the best for the show, and it's always been us pushing to outdo one another and to outdo one episode with the next episode. We've always put that pressure on ourselves; we're kind of perfectionists. I'm really proud of season one. To some degree, I wasn't thinking about how it would be received, I wasn't thinking about how Tatiana would be received. It was about what makes us super excited and then making that as good as it can possibly be. The response to the show has been very overwhelming.
ETonline: The show has an incredible social consciousness; tackling everything from women's roles in society to morality in science. Was it important to you guys from the outset that Orphan Black "say something?"
Manson: It's really important -- our writer's room is where we set the bar high on the storytelling side of things. What turned us on in the beginning was the dramatic richness of nature versus nurture, and the longer you spend picking it apart, the more interesting it gets.
ETonline: Genetic patenting, a big reveal in your season finale, has been in the news a lot with the Supreme Court ruling that human genes cannot be patented. Talk about good marketing!
Fawcett: [laughs] Any time there's something in the news that has bearing on the direction of genetic science right now, it's fantastic for our show. We like to stay current too -- I think we use what's possible right now in science as a jumping off point. First and foremost we wanted to make an incredibly engaging mystery thriller, but on top of that, we knew we wanted to take the nature vs nurture concept and create these really interesting characters for Tatiana to play. We want to avoid cliches, and if you saw something coming, we'd go in the other direction. Graeme and I set out to pull the rug out from under people and never let them know where we’re going.