Exclusive: Kevin Hanchard Talks Orphan Black

Kevin HanchardTonight, BBC America aired an all-new episode of its hit series, Orphan Black. The series, created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, follows Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) who assumes the identity of Detective Beth Childs, who bares an eerie resemblance to Manning, after she commits suicide. Sarah soon discovers that she and Beth, along with other "sisters" she meets along the way are clones (all played by Maslany).

This season we learned much more about Beth, and therefore her partner as well, Detective Arthur "Art" Bell, played by Kevin Hanchard. It was recently revealed that they had a romantic relationship at one point.

Last week, after finding out that Detective Martin Duko (Gord Rand), who had previously been threatening him for helping the clones, killed the clones' original, Kendall Malone (Alison Steadman), Bell attacked him at the precinct.

This week the detective becomes even more involved in Duko's fate.

Last week, Hanchard talked to Jamie Ruby in an exclusive interview about his work on the show, including difficulties working with multiple clones in one scene, kicking Duko's ass, specifics about tonight's episode, and much more.

SCIFI VISION: Last week you got to kick the crap out of Duko. Can you talk about filming that scene?

Kevin HanchardKEVIN HANCHARD: It's really technical, and it's tough, because above and beyond anything else, of course, without saying, you don't want to hurt anybody. And the scene is about kicking someone in and around almost the face area, but mostly in the chest and stomach. But you have to do it; you have to make it look real.

So we had a stunt coordinator who helped us out, and we used sandbags and camera angles that try to mask the fact that you're pulling the kick as best as possible. But, you know, it's all rehearsed, and it's planned and plotted out, but at the end of the day it involves Gord Rand, who plays, Martin Duko, lying on the ground and myself standing over him and kicking at him.

So there're some times where the sand is pulled out, because the angle betrays it's there, and there're other times when the sandbag is in, and I actually have to kick the sandbag. But then I've got to be careful, because it's not uncommon for someone to break their toe on one of those things, and I'm wearing really pretty, little dress shoes, which provide zero protection. So that's where the stunt coordinator comes in, sort of helping in showing how best to do it and make it look real without inflicting any sort of injury.

But then there comes a point in time when you just sort of stop acting and have to let yourself go and just start whaling away in order for there to be a sense of realism to the scene, because if you're solely thinking about the safety and the protection and all that kind of stuff, it betrays itself on camera. It looks fake - phony baloney; so there has to be a couple of takes where you just have to take the restrainers off, the governers off, and just go to town, and hopefully it's one of the takes where Gord isn't on the ground, and that allows you to do what you need to do to get the emotional reality and truth of the scene.

Now that that has happened, can you talk about where that leaves Art in tonight's episode?

The funny thing is, during that scene, Duko sort of leaves Art with an ominous message where he tells him that he is on Neolution's radar, that they're watching him. They're aware of the fact that he put the gun in Maggie Chen (Uni Park)'s hand. They're watching him; they're watching his entire life, and he's one of the people who's potentially going to be attacked by them next. So that definitely puts him ill at ease.

As we get into [this] week, we see that Siobhan (Maria Kennedy Doyle) is very upset about the fact that her mother has been murdered. She knows that it's Duko who's the murderer, and she's hellbent on revenge. And Art is in the unenviable position of having to allow that or not allow that, given his position as a police officer, but his commitment is to help the clones. So he chooses a side. He decides to turn a blind eye and allows Siobhan to have her pound of flesh, for lack of a better term, which is a huge step for a police officer to allow another police officer to be injured.

It ends up with Siobhan killing Duko, so that's a huge thing that means now there's absolutely no question as to where his loyalties lie and as to how involved he is in this entire scenario. He is all in and a bag of chips [laughs], needless to say. He was in the room. He helped spring the trap that got Duko to the place where he's ultimately murdered, and he helped tie him to the chair, looked him in the face, knowing what was going to happen, and walked out the door while Siobhan is holding a shotgun in her hand.

So that is a huge, huge step in Art's character development and his arc, so we'll see what happens moving forward after that, but that's definitely a thing where Art, although he's blurred the lines sometimes, he's sort of stayed on the side of doing what's right and what's good in the name of trying to help and avenge Beth, but now he's doing whatever is necessary, and the line isnot blurred, but completely obliterated.

After that, Neolution will be hot on his tail, but what about the other cops working at the precinct? Have they not suspected anything yet? I think it could be interesting if someone started paying attention who has no connections to Neolution.

Kevin HanchardThis is all off the books; there's no one at the department who is really investigating it the way that Art has, and even when Duko would talk to him about it, he sort of talked about matter of factly and sort of off the cuff about the fact that, you know, there is mention of Pouchy (Tony Cianchino), the garage murder, and that sort of thing, the fact that Duko knows the Hendrixes have been dealing drugs out of the soap shop and that sort of thing. But it's still sort of off of the police radar, and Art is trying his best to keep it that way in order to keep everybody safe. He's using his influence the best he can to deal with that. But who knows what may or may not happen down the line.

Am I right in assuming they went after Donnie (Kristian Bruun), because Duko sent them after Art attacked him, or is the timing coincidence?

Absolutely. Neolution knows about all that stuff, and they're sort of pulling the strings, and they have their tentacles in the police department. As I said, Art's been trying to do his best to keep it under wraps, but that investigation has been moving forward. So who knows what's going to happen as far as whether Art will get roped into the whole thing, but it's definitely getting messier and messier as time goes on.

Is there a reason why they only took Donnie? It seems like it would make more sense to have Alison (Maslany) arrested since Neolution is after the clones.

That's an interesting point, and I don't have the answer to that. I think it is a plot point, and I think there definitely is a reason for it, and I don't think I'm at liberty to say [laughs] as to why that is, but you're not wrong assuming that that's questionable that they would just take Donnie. [laughs] So let's leave it at that.

You've worked with Tatiana as most of the clones at this point. Do you approach your scenes with different clones differently at all?

I think I just approach the scene based on what I need from the scene and what it is I need from my scene partner. I never approach scenes thinking that I'm working with Tat. I mean, as an actor, I know I'm going in to work with Tat, but then when I go in and actually start doing the "homework" of it, it's about what do I need from Helena (Maslany)? What do I need from Sarah? What do I need from Donny? What do I need from whomever else I'm working with in the scene? That's really the long and short of it.

And then for me, once you get on set, it then becomes about the dance that you do with the other actor. And it sounds like I'm undervaluing and sort of underplaying what Tat does, but I'm not at all. It's actually really supporting what she does, because she doesn't put the onus on us to create and pump stuff up. She brings it all to the table.

So if you're working with one clone in the morning, and then she plays the other one in the afternoon, there's no adjustment that needs to be made from you the actor on the other side. She does it all herself; you just simply have to react to all of the wonderful stuff that she's giving you. Literally you just have to do all that basic theater school 101 acting school stuff that you learned at the beginning and trust that something great is going to come back, and twelve times out of ten, it comes back to you. It comes back tenfold from Tat, and that's a testament to her talent and her work ethic, because, by far, it's Tatiana followed by James Brown as the two hardest working people in show business, for sure.

What about things like table reads or rehearsals where nobody is in costume, is that ever difficult to keep things straight, or does Tat just get into character so completely that it's not?

Kevin HanchardThat might be the toughest time, because we do do table reads without costumes for each episode. Everyone sits around the table and reads the script, and at that point we have Kathryn Alexandre who plays Tat's clone double who reads some of the other roles. They decide, sometimes on the fly, as to who's going to read which clone in the scene, and it flips back and forth, depending on who's more dialog heavy in that particular scene. They flip back and forth, but Kathryn is so good at this point - she's done it for four seasons - that she's got all the accents and all the mannerisms and everything down. You can just tell by ear who's going to be whom, but at the same time, you have to look up and see who's doing it. You know what character it is, but you have to look up to see who's actually playing it. So it does get a little confusing there, but once you're on set, once they're in costume and whatever, it's plain as day. They both do a great job.

And as I said, sometimes you end up doing a scene with Kathryn on the day, because Tat is in the process of being changed over into that clone, and Kathryn has already been changed from Sarah to Helena, so Kathryn will do part of that scene coverage with you as Helena. Very, very rarely does that happen, but sometimes out of necessity you have to do that. She's a fantastic actor in her own right; we're really lucky that way. We have a lot of great people to work with.

Do you often have to though redo scenes multiple times because of multiple clones in a scene, or is it more that Tat just performs her parts over and over for each perspective?

No. I mean, when you have the clone scenes, where you’re in a scene with two clones, who are sort of, you know, touching or just in the same shot, then it becomes [more difficult]. I mean, it used to be really long days, sixteen hour days, in order to get those things shot, especially if they're time consuming and that sort of thing. But as the seasons have gone by, they've really gotten it down to a science. It still takes quite a long time, but not sixteen hours’ worth, maybe only twelve, sometimes it's eight. It depends on what exactly it is they're doing. So you're not doing it over and over again a million times, because of that. You just have to get the actual technical aspect of it right.

The acting of it is bang on. It's about where should the tennis ball be for eye lines, because you have fake eye lines for where that clone will be for when they lay the takes over another. It's all that technical stuff that takes time; it's not the fact that she's changing over or any of that. It's all of the stuff that fortunately the viewer never sees and never notices, because it's so well done and so detailed. You just see the finished product, and everything is good, but that's the stuff that takes time, not that fact that Tat has to change over, that's the hard but easiest part of it.

Then what has been the hardest scene that you've had to film?

It is that stuff. It is the technical clone scenes. Like there was a scene in season two I want to say, where Helena is across in another building and has Rachel (Maslany) in her sights with a sniper rifle, and I'm in there with Sarah, and we're trying to talk her down from shooting, from sniping Rachel. And that scene, it just seems really innocuous, because it's probably only a two minute long scene, and maybe you see me for thirty seconds of it, but I had to hold my sidearm, my police weapon, trained on her for that thirty seconds, but because that scene took us, as I said, twelve, thirteen hours to shoot, holding that one position for twelve hours, on and off obviously, but for the most part, that same position all day, it hurts after a while. Your arm is shaking and your hands are trembling, because you're trying to hold this thing up at eye level, and that sort of thing gets tough. If you're in the scene, it's just sort of fighting off the tedium of it, you know, the monotony of doing it sometimes, but if you're required to do something physically demanding, and you have to do it over and over again for twelve plus hours, that's the toughest aspect of it.

Other than that, outside of doing the clone thing, it's about solving problems. It's about just reconciling what the writer's vision is with what the director's vision is with what your vision is when you read the script, and what your character's journey is. That's some of the other tough stuff, because you have to remember, it's not just one director for all of the episodes. We have different directors every episode, well we have a bunch of directors that come back, but sometimes you have directors that are new throughout the seasons, and they come in, and they've seen all the episodes, but they don't quite have the intimate knowledge and haven't had the back discussions that some of the other directors have, or that John and Graeme do, because they've created it.

Kevin HanchardSo it's sometimes your responsibility as the actor portraying that character to protect and to advocate for your character if you feel that they're asking for something that you don't feel jives with your character's arc from start to finish.

Those can be perceived sometimes as some of the toughest things, but I quite enjoy those discussions and sometimes battles, for a lack of a better term, where you have sort of creative differences, because, you know, at the end of the day, we're all artists, and you have different visions, but it's that coming together of creative minds that gives the show, gives any show really - it really lifts it off the page. It gives it a life; it gives it an energy. And it gives us an ownership of it that I think translates and allows the viewer to realize that we care about it, and it forces them to care about it as well. And I think that's one of the biggest things about this show, is that because we care about it, fans have really glommed on and really care about the show as well.

I know on After the Black, you talked about finding out about the scenes with Art and Beth, but do you normally find things out far in advance, or are you kind of finding them out along the way?

Nope. Nope. [laughs] No, that's the long and short of it, right? It's one of those situations that I don't think I really understood until I watched the series LOST [laughs] a few years ago, where I realized sometimes these guys just don't know where they're going. They had a general idea at the beginning, but stuff changes. Like stuff just changes, and at the end of seven seasons of LOST, I realized these guys they just sort of made [it up as they went], but that's not what Graeme and John are doing. Graeme and John, they definitively have a fully developed arc, and they know exactly where the series wants to go. How we get there changes. And the path that we take, if you're going to put it in GPS terms, the computer's constantly saying "rerouting; rerouting," [laughs] but they know where they want to get to.

But they don't always share that with us, to allow them the ability and the freedom to change things [laughs] how they see fit.

Essentially in season one, did I know that Beth and Art had a relationship? No, not for certain. I thought so; I thought it was possible. I thought there was a possibility, because I just couldn't reconcile why he would take the risks that he would take without there being something bigger than just the regular cop partner relationship, but no, that wasn't told to me by Graeme and John.

And, you know, that's part of the joy of it. And sometimes the frustration of it [laughs] is not knowing exactly how things are going to end up and where you're going, but it forces you to play with a very open mind, while at the same time being very specific in the moment. So it's kind of like life that way; it's exciting.

Earlier in the season MK (Maslany) made a comment about Neolution being everywhere, even in the police department. She said to Beth it could be her partner. Obviously we are to assume she meant Duko, but have you ever thought about that idea? I don't think it's going to happen, but it's interesting. I mean, early on there were monitors that we didn't know about. Have you entertained the idea that Art could know more about things than he's letting on?

Of course. I mean after season one, we knew there was going to be a male clone, but we didn't know who it was going to be. So just as kids would when you have, you know, student council president elections coming up, kids sit around and talk about that kind of stuff. So as actors, you sit around and talk about it. Dylan Bruce, Kristian Bruun, and I would sit around and talk about it. But once again, you have to leave yourself open to it, because we just had no idea.

Graeme and John I guess were talking to certain people about it, [asking what they thought]. So all of these things were happening.

So back to your question, specifically about monitors and did Art know more than he's letting on, you have to leave yourself open to the possibility.

Kevin HanchardAnd I think I talked about it in an interview that I did at Wondercon, that there was a scene in season one where I played the scene in a direction that I think painted us into a certain corner, and that was just how I felt about it in the moment, but John, who was directing the episode, knew that we needed to leave the potential open for something else down the line. And that was one of the times when we sort of butted heads a little bit. I'm like, 'I really think this is the emotional truth of the scene.' He's like, 'Yeah, but if not, we can't do anything else but what you're doing.

And I know this is really broad and sort of vague the way I'm speaking about it, because [laughs] I don't want to tell you which scene it was specifically, but there's a very specific amount of attention paid to those specific things on the show, because we just can't [do that]. For the intrigue of the show and for the long term viability of the show, we have to keep possibilities of potential open. So they're very aware and very careful with how they do those certain things. Is there still something in Art that we don't know about? I think so. You know, you have to maintain his mystery to stay interesting.

But MK, her message, there's definitely teasing in that for sure.

Was there a certain moment in particular that really surprised you, like a plot twist, that you didn't expect?

My biggest sort of moment I think right now is still, just sort of where I was as an actor and as a fan of the show, who happens to work for the show, I'm still sort of floored by the concept and the work that went into the character of Tony (Maslany). That's probably not the answer to the question that you're looking for, but it's the one that I'm going to give, just because of the amount of work and thought that went into the creation of that character and then the actual bringing to life of that character was massive.

And for myself, being on set and all the stuff that I talked about, where I told you before Tat just brings stuff, and you just react to it, whatever, like I was just sort of so floored by the amount of work and how real that character was. And me being a little suburban guy, living in Mississauga, I haven't had that much interaction with someone who's going through gender transformation. In no way was it off putting; it's just I wasn't able to fully reconcile as the actor how to sort of deal with that character, which is part of what you needed in this scene.

It was a weird situation, because it's one of those things where the first time you meet them it's like you don't know what to say, to say, 'hey man,' and when you say 'hey man,' you go, 'oh crap did I just step in it by saying 'hey man?' '

It's just that process played itself out in real time for me in the moment, because it was just so real. and I wasn't expecting it. I was expecting to walk up and see Tat playing Tony, but it just it manifested itself in [laughs] many different ways that surprised me. So it was a total trip for me, and I loved that episode, and I loved the work in that episode for just those reasons, that anything that forces me not to act, but just to react, is a good thing. The less acting I do the better actor I am, [laughs] to be completely honest with you. And in that episode there was not a whole lot of acting happening, because all the work that hair, make up, costumes, Tatiana, the creative team, the writers had all put in just allowed me to sort of be there and just live, which was great.

I don't know if you can answer this, but do you have a favorite clone to work with, or do you love them all equally?

People never choose Sarah, because she's got all the weight, like she's the straight man in a comedy; like she just carries the water. But there's a strength, but at the same time, sort of a crazy vulnerability to that character that I love working with. She needs so much, and she needs so much help, but at the same time, she's by far one of the strongest people on the show.

So I love working with Tat as Sarah, but I'm always a self-confessed - I love the character of Cosima as well, because she is extremely, extremely vulnerable. Her heart is so big, and she just puts it right out there, and it gets smashed into a million itty-bitty pieces it seems like every episode. And that's through no fault of her own; it's just the circumstances are not kind to her. Like not only is she sick and dying, but her relationships just keep exploding and disintegrating in front of her face, so my heart bleeds for that character a little bit.

Tatiana Maslani and Kevin HanchardAnd then of course we have Helena, who's just the wild card. You just don't know what's going to happen when you're on set with Helena, because a lot of the stuff that fans love and are golden are things that just happen on set. Like Tat just decides to open up a can of sardines and squirt mustard into it. Then you just watch that, and you want to vomit, and then you just play the rest of that scene with that feeling, and it works. Because there's nothing she can't do. There's absolutely nothing Helena can't do if she feels like doing it. If she wants to stick four hard boiled eggs in her mouth and then try to deliver the lines, that's what she'll do. And that's always a whole lot of fun to work with.

So you asked me to choose one, and I gave you three. But it's like saying, 'Which one of your kids do you love the most?' You love them all for different reasons.

As much as this show is serious, there's also a lot of comedy too. Is it really funny and fun also when you're off set? Does anybody play pranks or was there any kind of like a funny moment that sticks out in your mind?

I can never answer that question, because I can't think of any sort of pranks that happened. I don't think anybody really pulls pranks, I think out of reverence for what Tat's trying to do, where at the same time, she's by no means precious. Do you know what I mean?

But we do [have fun]. We laugh a whole lot on set, but at the same time we get our work done, because the mood is not one of 'Oh must get it done!' Like it's not taskmasteresque kind of stuff we're dealing with there. I don't think that anyone's hiding stuff under sheets or jumping from behind corners, not that I've seen anyway, but there's a joy and a play that happens on set that sometimes you don't find on other sets, and it all starts with your number one, as far as I'm concerned. It starts with whoever your star is, the person who's first on the call sheet, and if they're willing to have a light heart, but have a great work ethic, then how can anyone below them not have that same sort of feeling?

And I still don't know how Tat does it, to be completely honest with you. If the script is 56 pages, she's got like 39-42 pages of dialog in it, because she's playing everybody. [laughs] But at the same time, she finds time not to take herself too seriously, and is one of the biggest jokers that you'll find on set.

That being said, to sort of answer your question a little bit better, the times that we do have a lot of fun is when we're done, when we're wrapped, and our wrap party is always sort of like off the chain fun. Even though we're not fully wrapped when we have our wrap party, there's a couple more days left, but at the party people really let their hair down.

And then what we do when we do conventions - we do like Wondercon or San Diego Comic-Con that sort of thing - that's when we all find some time to just all sort of really have fun. And, you know, as much as Kristian and I have our friendly Twitter battles going on where we sort of take the piss out of one another, we're really, really good friends.

Kevin HanchardAnd I think we all enjoy each other's company, which once again, you can't say about every show. I don't know if there's any of us who wouldn't want to spend a weekend or have a coffee with any of our other cast mates. I think we're just a great group of people.

Can you describe your character in three words?

That's a tough one. I think I've done it before, and every time I've done it I think I've given three different words. In the moment it just strikes you different. But I would say: he's tough, he's loyal, and he's real. He's real; that's what it really boils down to. There's no sort of artifice, and he fails miserably when he tries to be something that he's not. You take him as you see him; that's what it really comes down to.

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