Actor’s Anatomy: We Shine the Spotlight on ORPHAN BLACK Star Kristian Bruun

Kristian Bruun

The highly anticipated third season of the BBC syfy drama ORPHAN BLACK began production today. For those new to the Clone Club, ORPHAN BLACK focuses on Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) an orphan who takes the identity of Beth, (Maslany) a woman that looks exactly like her, after the woman jumps in front of a train. Sarah later learns that she was part of a cloning experiment for the DYAD institution called Porject LEDA, and has many clones roaming the earth. She soon after meets Alison, (Maslany) Helena, (Maslany) Cosima, (Maslany) Katja, (Maslany) Rachel, (Maslany) and others, and that’s when it all begins to unravel. Welcome to the trip!

Aside from the fearless Tatiana Maslany, the game changing, addictive, and brilliant show, ORPHAN BLACK also stars Kristian Bruun. Bruun plays the secretive, and in my opinion most underrated character on the show, Donnie Hendrix. I chatted with Bruun about last season’s craziest moments, Project Castor, and what it was like killing Dr. Leekie.

Walk me through a day on set. How do you go about shooting scenes with multiple clones?
Kristian Bruun: Usually any days with multiple clones are super, super long and are very labor intensive from a technical standpoint. We know going in that it’s going to be a long day and that we should be as well rested as possible. So when we are shooting a multiple clone day they use a special camera that tracks the setup of every movement and every angle that we use. Every single take the camera is going to do the same thing and we all have to match it. The hardest job is done by Tatiana who has to come prepared knowing what every clone in the scene is going to do acting wise and also physically. As soon as she gets into the space she has to start establishing and figuring out exactly what each clone is going to do. It gets pretty crazy, especially when there is some sort of interaction between the clones. There was a scene that I did in rehab, and just before I walk in Alison (Maslany) is arguing with Sarah and Alison rips the headband off Sarah. All of that stuff is incredibly hard because she has to figure out what angle her hand is going to be at, how high, how low, when it’s going to move it has to move at the same time in each take. We work it out with her body double, Kathryn (Alexandre) who is fantastic; she sort of predicts what Tatiana is going to want in terms of acting and movement. They sort of work as a team to establish the one clone while Tatiana works to establish the current clone that she is in. Once they start shooting that one clone everything has to be locked and set into place. So every actor in the scene has to time their lines just right and the pacing has to be the same, all movement has to be the same, because if you’re off on any level it’s going to throw off the whole production. It’s really something else! We do a take with Tatiana and her body double, then Tat does it by herself, then does a take with a tennis ball for eye line and has to recreate everything with people there and without people there.

Aside from the rehab scene we’ve really only seen Donnie with Alison. Is there a specific clone you would love to have scenes with next season?
I think it would be hilarious to see Donnie and Helena. (Maslany) In the DVD extras there are deleted scenes from the final episode with Donnie, because I don’t end up making it into the final cut. Due to time we couldn’t fit it in but thee is a scene between Donnie versus Rachel (Maslany) where Donnie goes into DYAD to confront Rachel and it’s a pretty awesome scene. Everybody on set, Graeme (Manson) and John (Fawcett) the creators, all really loved that matchup of Donnie versus Rachel. Hopefully we’ll see some more of that. It didn’t make it into the episode so it’s kind of hard to count that in terms of the plot, so I’m hoping we’re going to rewrite those scenes or include some new scenes with Rachel.

People have always been very indifferent towards Donnie, although this season people started to come around. How do you think the way people view Donnie has changed since the first season?
Its funny people love Tat so much, which they should because she is amazing. At the end of season one when it was revealed that I was her monitor all along I got so many “you bastard” tweets and things like that, which I love! I relish that because when you get to play a bad guy you know what you’re in for and you just play it up and enjoy the process. Luckily Donnie wasn’t that bad of a bad guy, he as just kind of an unaware bad guy. It was kind of cool to see the fan reaction build from zero to hero in terms of Donnie this season. Also people started paying attention to him a little bit more, certainly at the end of episode nine. Episode nine was sort of Donnie in hero mode, or damage control, or family protect mode, people really dug that, I really dug that. Tat and I get along really well, we’re a couple of nerds from improv and we love to mess around and have a good time. When you do scenes that are always so negative towards each other’s characters after a while it’s still fun but it’s nice to work together as a team.

We learned early on that Donnie and Alison met in high school. Do you think we will ever learn more about their back-story or relationship? Anything on Donnie’s past and how he got involved with DYAD?
I would love to see some flashbacks (laughs) that would be amazing. We’ve never done anything like that on the show before so it would probably wind up being like FAMILY GUY flashback and really cheesy, unfortunately it’s not that type of show. In terms of their back-story, we might explore it a little bit. I haven’t sat down with Graeme yet and talked about season three that much. That would have to be up to the writers, your faith is in their hands. I think we’re going to start exploring Donnie and Alison working as a team because we really haven’t seen them work as a team, at least up until the end of the season. Now the sky’s the limit now that they are both criminals in some sort. I think it’s going to be an interesting future between the two.

We really saw Alison and Donnie bond over Donnie killing Dr. Leekie (Matt Frewer) what was your initial reaction to reading that in the script?
I’m a fan of the show and I don’t get to watch the show because I film it before it comes out. Every time a new script comes out that’s when I jump at the chance to digest it as soon as possible. That script, the seventh of season two came through my email at midnight, I was so desperate to read it because some people on set like John and Graeme warned me hat it was going to be a good one for Donnie. They had been warning me that they were going to top the craft room of terror from season one, and I was like there is no way they are going to top that, absolutely no way. So when that email came though at midnight I was like “oh God I’ve got to read this, I have to read this right now.” I put the script on my iPad and sat in bed and read it. When I saw all of the Donnie playing Alison and Sarah playing Alison playing Donnie, and all of the weird cross roll reversal stuff in front of the rehab crowd I was dying, I just loved it. Then when I saw that I got initiated in the clone club I was like “oh my God! I can’t believe they let me in. This is amazing, sky’s the limit in terms of Donnie being involved.” I was just a big fan of the episode in general so I’m thinking Dr. Leekie is running away from DYAD and then the car pulls up and I’m thinking it’s Paul (Dylan Bruce) and he’s totally going to kill him and he’s got a gun. Then it turns out it’s me and I’m like “What! What are you talking about it’s me?” Then he gets in the car and he’s got a gun and I’m thinking, “Oh my God I’m going to kill him.” And then I put the gun down and then I was screaming, “Oh my God I just shot him. I just shot him! I started jumping up and down in my bedroom screaming “Oh shit, oh shit!” At one thirty in the morning, I didn’t sleep at all the whole night because I was so excited to get to shoot that episode.

What did you think about Project Castor being introduced?
Brilliant! I think it was only a matter of time. If we’re thinking realistically about people attempting to clone people, they are going to try female and they are going to try male. It’s only realistic that the military would try to make these strong male clones. It makes perfect sense; I think it’s a really cool added element to the show. Now that we dug deeper and got to the see the civilian side of things, female coning and the military side of things, male cloning, it will be an explosive combination. I think Ari (Millen) who plays Mark the male clone is a great choice. It’s going to be dark and creepy and awesome.

What would you like to see happen this season?
In terms of Donnie I would like to see him and Alison get into some more criminal hyjinks, I think that’s really fun story angle for them. I love that Donnie starting to join the clone club and help the clones. In terms of the whole season I’m really excited for the female clones to learn about the male clones, and what impact that’s going to have on the male clones. With every episode the world expands as we get more and more info. I just love what unravels; the writers come up with some incredible things. I just love this whole male clones thing and I really want to see Tat and Ari just chew it up.

If you could pitch a clone to Graeme and John what would it be like?
(Laughs) I would love to see maybe a more physical clone. You’ve got brains and street smart; I guess Helena (Maslany) is sort of the wild clone. It would be interesting to see if there was a military side, maybe the military did try to breed a female soldier as well. It would be cool to see Tat try to work on that side of her personality, a military, tough girl. Some sort of a spy clone it would be a cool angle to see.

Season Three of ORPHAN BLACK is set to premiere in March of 2015. Photo Credit: David Spowart

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