TORONTO — Tatiana Maslany’s tendency to veer outside her comfort zone has earned her a reputation as one of the hardest-working women in the business.
Whether it’s slipping into a wide range of accents, personalities and looks to play multiple clones on TV’s “Orphan Black,” or getting bloodied and bruised as a gang member in the gritty new film “Destroyer,” the Emmy Award-winning star consistently throws herself into challenging acting roles, crediting her Regina roots for the courage to do so.
“I had a really warm, loving situation to grow in and to foster confidence and to foster creativity,” Maslany said in a recent phone interview from New York, where she’s starring alongside Bryan Cranston in the Broadway play “Network.”
“Regina was so amazing in terms of just the art community and the improv community and the theatre community … so I had a very wonderful playground to start in.
“I think having to move to a bigger centre (for roles) forces you outside your comfort zone innately, so I think that’s always been part of it. But I also think that both of my parents have incredible work ethic and love work very much, and I think that was something that was definitely passed on to me.”
Opening in Toronto on Friday and other cities on Jan. 25, “Destroyer” sees Maslany playing a drug-addled criminal opposite Oscar winner Nicole Kidman as an alcoholic LAPD officer who becomes embroiled in a gang she infiltrated while undercover years ago.
Maslany said she was excited to explore a feminine approach to what’s “often a male-dominated genre and very masculine in the storytelling.”
Like Kidman, Maslany also had to undergo a transformation to portray her character in different time periods: as a young woman and then at age 37, missing some teeth and weathered from drug use.
She and Kidman took a no-nonsense approach to their fight scenes, she said, joking that they adopted a mentality of “Let’s just beat the hell out of each other.’”
“It was amazing that Day 1 for us was her throwing me in the trunk of a car,” Maslany said with a laugh.
“So right off the bat there was no preciousness, we were just right into it.”
Maslany said she was a huge fan of Kidman’s going into the film shoot and “was so blown away by how grounded and humble she was in her work.”
“She was like any actor going to work: She was trying things out, she was in process, she was really committing and really playing,” Maslany recalled.
“She created a space that was like, ‘We’re here to work.’ There was no sitting back. It was really incredible.”
Maslany has had a diverse career since the sci-fi TV series “Orphan Black” ended its five-season run in 2017.
Last year, she made her New York stage debut in an off-Broadway production of Tracy Letts’s “Mary Page Marlowe.”
She also did voice work for Guillermo del Toro’s animated series “3Below: Tales of Arcadia.”
Her upcoming projects include the film “Pink Wall,” written and directed by her boyfriend, Tom Cullen. Maslany and Jay Duplass star in the non-linear story, which looks at issues of gender expectations as it profiles six moments from a relationship. Maslany called it a “passion project,” noting they shot the film in just nine days in Wales with many of Cullen’s friends and family.
In “Network,” Maslany plays a TV executive — a role played by Faye Dunaway in the 1976 film.
“It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing, so I have to kind of take stock every now and again and just remind myself of where I am,” Maslany said.
“Hillary Clinton came to our opening night. I think I burst into tears backstage. That was amazing.”
Victoria Ahearn | The Canadian Press