WonderCon 2016: The Men of ORPHAN BLACK Panel Turns the Show on its (Many) Heads

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For Orphan Black, a show that revolves around women (and one woman in particular), it’s a twist to have a panel focused on the male characters, as opposed to most shows, which would have to do the reverse. Orphan Black did that very thing at WonderCon 2016, bringing together the creators of the show, Graeme Mason and John Fawcett, as well as the (minimal) male cast: Kristian Bruun (Donnie Hendrix), Kevin Hanchard (Detective Art Bell), and Jordan Gavaris (Felix Dawkins). The panel had a decidedly lighter tone than the show (not difficult), as Bruun entered the stage dancing while wearing a lamb mask (a reference to the season four teaser that was shown during the presentation. Copies of the mask were also handed out to attendees at the end of the panel). The gentlemen talked the season three finale, what lies in their characters’ futures, and shared some exciting news with fans.

As to the season three finale, which saw Sarah escaping safely to Iceland with her family as opposed to the usual dire cliffhangers the show has been known for, the creators assure us that the peace will not last. “We wanted to leave season 3 in a false sense of security,” stated Fawcett, “Very false,” Mason elaborated. They go on to preview the show going back to its season one roots, with a theme of mystery, conspiracy, and underdog-style challenges. “We missed the feel of Sarah playing off her back foot,” said Fawcett. “We’re getting that feel back, and we’re going be looking back into Beth’s suicide, which was never really resolved. What did Sarah miss? What happened there? We made a list of ‘we’re gonna come back to that’, so there’s still more story there.”

Jordan Gavaris, who plays Sarah’s adopted brother Felix, is also excited for the new feel. “I can say that I’ve seen the first episode, I know things,” he jokes after the question being posed that the actors were in the dark. “You’re on a really fast train and you’re going through a very scary tunnel.”

Fans were also rabidly concerned about the fate of Delphine, who was shot in the season finale (although whether or not she lives is unknown). When asked whether fans should be hopeful for Delphine pulling through, Mason laughed, “Of course not!” But, he assured, no matter what happens to Delphine, she will not be forgotten. “What we’re talking about is a mystery. But it is a big part of season four, what happened there.”

“Cosima has a lot of difficulty dealing with what’s going on,” previews Fawcett, “because she doesn’t have a lot of answers. She does some investigating to get those answers.” Looks like Cosima’s going to be veering away from “Geek Monkey” and drifting more towards Nancy Drew territory. Fitting, since last season also saw her quitting the Dyad Institute.

The cast also talked about filming one of the most popular scenes from last season, by far one of the greatest scenes in the show. “We have to talk about twerking,” said the moderator, and the crowd burst into laughter. Kristian Bruun (who plays Allison’s husband Donnie), gave an overview of his initial reaction when reading the script for the episode. “The first reaction was my jaw dropping to the floor,” he muses, “and then laughing at it, because it was hilarious, and then realizing ‘no, I have to strip down again to my tighty-bluies’, as they were in the episode, and really just … give ‘er, so to speak.” The creators sent Kristian and Tatiana (who is lovingly referred to as Tat by the cast throughout the entire panel) samples of several songs they could choose from, and they ended up deciding on Riff Raff, “because why the hell not?” poses Bruun. Director Helen Schafer, who is praised several times by each of the cast members throughout the hour, reportedly asked Bruun and Maslany whether they needed choreography involved for the scene, to which they replied, “Nah, we got this. Just play the music.” Bruun also revealed that he found glitter in his room for the rest of the season.

The actors were also asked what their characters’ biggest fears would be going into season four. “For Art, he did a disservice to Beth. He didn’t help her when she needed him, and we delve into that in season four,” replied Kevin Hanchard. He also reveals that Art meets Donnie this season. “Art is definitely in Clone Club at this point. There’s no doubt about it.” While talking about Bell’s commitment to his job as a detective versus his dedication to Sarah & Co., “There’s some hard choices that Art has to make, but he’s all in for the sisters at this point.”

Bruun emphasizes Donnie’s new role as a Father-Turned-Crime Lord. “He got in over his head in season three,” he confirms. “His biggest concern is safety for his family, same as Allison. We also have a new roommate named Helena,” he adds, confirming Helena’s stay in the Hendrix household still holds true at the beginning of season four. “She’s pregnant, she’s hungry, grocery bills have skyrocketed.”

As for Felix, Gavaris says his character’s struggles are more internal in season four. “Finding out that blood relation between Sarah and S has him feeling like he’s lost his connection to his sister, his biggest fear is that he’s gonna be left alone,” he reveals to a crowd of ‘Awww‘s. “He felt that they always had that in common, being orphans, being a family that just came together, and now that’s gone. He needs to sort out what Sarah means to him, what S means to him. There’s jealousy there.”

The gentlemen were also asked which of their character’s relationships was the most fun to work with and to watch. “For me, it’s Helena,” answers Bruun. “Donnie and Helena was so much fun. They started out as this unlikely duo, very suspicious of each other, but they develop a very loving friendship.” Aww! It was a popular answer, as Hanchard also replies. “To work with and to watch it’s Helena, Helena, Helena. When Tat is playing Helena she just goes off. And you don’t have to act in that, you just have to react. But you have to love the relationship between Sarah and Felix, because the relationship with Jordan and Tat is so genuine.”

Maslany was praised throughout the hour, foremost by creators Mason and Fawcett. “At the end of it, there’s Tatiana, who’s just going to take it right over the top. It’s really an amazing freedom for our show to be able to put these characters in her hands,” says Fawcett. “We wanted a genre mash-up,” adds Mason, “We wanted to make a thriller, we wanted to make a comedy, we wanted to make a horror, we wanted to make sci-fi, and what brings it all together is the believabilty, and the emotion and depth that Tat and the cast bring to these characters, and that’s what makes all of the absurd silly stuff sort of hang together.”

To top it all off, the panel announced that starting April 14, the season four premiere, we will be getting a 30-minute after show, “After Black”, similar to AMC’s “The Talking Dead”. The show will feature cast, crew, and special guests. The first episode after the season premiere will feature Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Hanchard. “I’m gonna be so funny,” assures Hanchard. I believe him.

For more coverage on WonderCon 2016, check out our Instagram and this link for articles and interviews.

 

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