“I bought my agent a nice bottle of wine.” – Ari Millen, Orphan Black
It was only a matter of time. Tatiana Maslany has wowed us on Orphan Black when they keep adding new clones of her, and every character is a unique individual. But after two seasons, it was revealed that there is a set of male clones too. Ari Millen, who played Mark Rollins, is actually part of the Project Castor set of clones.
Orphan Black made its third annual presentation to the Television Critics Association in January, and I got to meet Millen afterwards for a one on one. You’ll see a lot more of him when season three premieres April 18 at 9 on BBC America, but get a preview in our exclusive interview.
Ari Millen: I watched the first season. I was a fan and I really wanted to be on it. I told my agent, “Get me on the show, get me on the show.” Luckily I got the opportunity in the second season. To a certain extent, I guess I brought a fresh perspective for myself moving in because I knew who these characters were. Mark, to a certain extent, knew his targets. He’d done his homework. Moving forward from that, the big reveal, it’s just been incredible.
Nerd Report: Did you know you were clones when you got the part?
Ari Millen: I didn’t. I knew I was in it for six episodes and then I was going to die. They took me by surprise, a very pleasant surprise.
Nerd Report: When you told your agent you wanted to be on Orphan Black, did you still have to audition?
Ari Millen: Yes. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nerd Report: How competitive was that?
Ari Millen: I don’t know. I don’t know how many other people went out for it but I was very, very fortunate. I’d gone out in the first season a couple times, for Vic and for another character. Then I came back in the second season and auditioned. John [Fawcett] wasn’t in the room at the time but his assistant Mackenzie was. She said, “Can you wait 10 minutes? John’s going to be back.” Right there I kind of got a little nervous. I went out, John came in, I went in and did it again and then a few days later, I got the phone call. I bought my agent a nice bottle of wine.
Nerd Report: After the pleasant surprise of learning Mark was clones, how long did you have to wait to find out what was in store for season three?
Ari Millen: Almost four agonizing months. I was in constant touch with Graeme [Mason] and John, like, “Hey, what can you tell me? What can you tell me?” I don’t know if they were trying to torture me or what, but they hold their cards very close to their chest. It was about a month before that they really started dishing to me and I was able to start formulating and creating these guys.
Nerd Report: So how excited are you for what you go to do in season three?
Nerd Report: Are there any scenes that involve both multiple yous and multiple Tatianas?
Ari Millen: I don’t think so yet, but I can’t imagine there not being. There’s no way they’re not going to do that. I bet you that’s coming.
Nerd Report: I imagine that would be an exponentially more complicated thing to do.
Ari Millen: For sure. For sure. Tat and I were talking about this, of the prospect of doing two Ledas, two Castors. Jordan touched upon it, switching from Tony to Sarah, you’re talking to someone and it’s the same person and it’s the relationship. Then all of a sudden it’s not them anymore and it’s somebody else, but it’s the same person. I can talk myself in circles and get totally confused, but that is definitely a challenge both Tatiana and I are looking forward to and I hope it’s coming soon.
Nerd Report: Do you have a clone double to work with?
Ari Millen: I do. Nick Abraham is my clone double. Him and I actually both went to Ryerson University in Toronto together. He was my first pick and I was very, very happy that he got it not only because he’s very talented, but there was no ice breaking that needed to happen. We could just hit the ground running, develop these characters. His input has been invaluable. Their work that they do on that show, although not seen, we could watch an episode together and go, “That’s because of Nick, that’s because of Nick.” He deserves all the praise and more.
Nerd Report: When your’e playing clones, is there more pressure to make each one different than if you just go from show to show or movie to movie? Characters don’t always have to be quite so drastically different to distinguish your performances.
Ari Millen: You’ve met twins, or you’ve met triplets before. These guys, Castor boys, have been self-aware from very early on, if not from birth, like twins, like triplets. From the outside, if you’re meeting a twin or a triplet for the first time, if you’re seeing them individually you might not know until you’re standing next to each other and then you get to know them and then you see little personality traits that are unique to the people. So that was my goal, to find the uniquenesses within the similarities.