Ever since the tear-jerking, nail-biting, over-the-top finale of Orphan Black season 3, #CloneClub has been feeling a bit empty. Just about as empty as Helena’s heart when her precious babies were stolen by Pouchy’s goon and held as collateral– too soon?
MCKENZIE MORRELL: OK, so before we get started with some Orphan Black questions, I read that you went to military school in the States for high school. Can you talk a little about that, and if you weren’t acting, would you have continued down that career path?
KRISTIAN BRUUN: I was totally planning on joining the army. First and foremost, I’ve always been an introvert kid. I was a bit of a music nerd; I played a bunch of instruments when I was really young. I kind of picked them up pretty quickly and really easily. I would do the school plays, and things like that. But I was terrible at acting. Even when I was in military school. Every year there was one musical, and I would—for three of the four years, I did it. And I was, like, absolutely terrible. But I really enjoyed acting quite a bit. Really I was gunning for a career in the military. No pun intended. In Canada. So I came back to Canada, and I went to university just to get a degree in anything—it really didn’t matter. I just needed a degree. I wanted to travel the world and help people. That’s one way of doing it. My uncle was a UN Peacekeeper, he was in the army, he was my hero, and I just wanted to follow suit. So I went to university in Canada. I started off as a physics major, and I hated that. I hated the math, and I hated the laboratory. I just didn’t feel comfortable there. So I quickly switched, after my first two weeks, to classical studies, because I loved archeology. That’s something I would totally do as a side job if I could. Even to this day I still love the idea of archeology, saying this as having never been on an actual archeological dig. But I would really love to! I honestly think it was more just my love of Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones [laughs], but I really loved history quite a bit. I’m a bit of a history nerd. So that kind of suited me better. And then on a dare, I auditioned for a comedy show at university, this sort of fun, drunken comedy show that we did in the student pubs for charity. I got into the show that I auditioned for and I discovered: “Wow, I really do love performing on stage.” I had no idea that there was a theater department, and I could actually get a degree in that. Why not do that before getting in the army? That seems like a whole lot of fun to do. I just kind of made the switch at the end of my first year from classical studies into drama. And the rest is history. I just sort of slowly fell out of the dream of being a UN Peacekeeper into the dream of creating theater, being an actor, director, writer producer, all of the above, that sort of thing.
MM: That’s amazing. You mentioned about your need or want to help people. I know you recently went on a trip and volunteered. Can you talk a little bit about that experience and what initially got you involved with that?
KB: I’ve learned over the years that you don’t have to be in the military to help people, and you don’t have to carry a gun to help people, and things like that. As a civilian, there are many things that anybody can do to help out. One of those things is donating money, or putting yourself behind causes locally, or volunteering abroad. My mother actually hooked me up with the idea of volunteering in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004, Sept. 26, 2004. I fell in love with the notion and decided to go to do some volunteer work over there, and I’ve been there five times now. I initially wanted to travel all around the world and do volunteer trips to see the developing world everywhere—South America, South East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, wherever. The first trip, I fell in love with Sri Lanka, and all its quirkiness and the people that we work with over the last—well, for me, since 2007. Yeah, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll move on to another place. I hope I do. I think I can always volunteer more locally. But I really enjoy giving back to people that way. There’s nothing acting related or arts related. It’s just people helping people. It’s not religious; it’s very similar to Habitat for Humanity. Right now I’ve been rebuilding schools with the group, and originally we were rebuilding houses for people who were displaced by the tsunami, but now we focus on community upkeep and improving the schooling situation for the children in the community that we work with in the south of Sri Lanka on the coast. So we rebuild parts of schools that need upkeep. We build new buildings, libraries, and computer labs, even playgrounds, because it’s really important for kids to be able to play and enjoy things and not run around in the street and actually have a place where they can congregate and be together and be off the street, running around in traffic or something like that [laughs].
MM: That’s so amazing.
KB: I don’t see it as amazing. It’s something that anybody can do. And everybody who is privileged in some way should do. And if that don’t have the time to volunteer, by all means support those that do. Help them raise money to get over there and work on those projects. But I really do think that as a citizen of the world, it is up to us who are more fortunate than others to help out in some way. It can be big or small, but I think that’s just sort of the right thing to do.
MM: It’s definitely a great message, and you have the influence for sure. I think that’s a great thing for other people to take on and embody the things you’re doing.
KB: Right. That’s a new thing for me. I’m very sensitive to the fact that now that I’m more of a public figure, because of Orphan Black, I can have more influence on more people potentially in the sense of raising money for charities. I’m also aware that a lot of Hollywood stars, almost every one of them, aligns themselves with a charity. And I think most of them do it for good. I hope all of them do it for good, and not for their public image. Some people think I’m only doing it for public image, and truth be told I don’t go around advertising that I do this sort of thing, nor do I want to. It’s kind of something… I get a lot out of it, is what I’m saying. It’s not just them—the people that go and help, my friends and family, and my mother and my sister volunteer with my in Sri Lanka as well—it’s not just for them; we get something out of it too. I don’t need to advertise it; I don’t want people to think I’m doing this for image or some crap like that. Ultimately, I think true charity comes from people helping other people and not expecting anything in return, whether that’s wanting people to help them or wanting people to think things about them. Am I being clear on that? I don’t know.
MM: Of course, you’re doing it to help people and you don’t need to be recognized for the good you’re doing because you’re just doing it to give back.
KB: If I can encourage more people to do, then that makes me very happy.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Your character, Donnie, has really stepped up this season. Can you touch upon that shift from clueless husband to an invaluable member of clone club?
KRISTIAN BRUUN: As the show has grown—and we’ve been so lucky to get subsequent seasons, a decent enough time to explore them—in the first season, it was all about [lead actress] Tatiana [Maslany] and her clones. Obviously, the focus was on that, and we had all these auxiliary characters coming in and out of their lives. But at the same time, we spent so much time with Tatiana, there wasn’t a ton of room to flesh out the other characters. So Donnie was a bit of a schlub when we first saw him, which is wonderful to play. It’s the best job in the world. I’m absolutely in love with the job. I love it, I love the character, and I have so much fun doing it. It makes me super happy. But it’s also nice that now as the show goes on, and we import these characters in the clones’ lives, both the Leda and the Castor clones, the writers have done such a good job, really starting three-quarters of the way through the first season especially, starting to explore who these auxiliary characters are in relation to the clones and then just to themselves. Like even, this season, you start to see Donnie on his own … [like] helping his wife on her campaign to not have her stress over the other things going on in their lives. So it’s been amazing to watch the character grow from your typical suburban dad, which is where we started and where we had to start, and has really grown into his own thing. Over the course of two or three months in the story, which is all of three seasons, it’s only been two or three months. So, so much craziness has happened! If you go back to season one from where we are, imagine all that happening to you over the course of two or three months [laughs] and how quick that changing would be. It’s really amazing to see how all the characters have grown, and also how the writers, and [series creators] John [Fawcett] and Graeme [Mason], have really let us grow. A lot of time in TV, you don’t. A lot of time in TV, you stick to the same formula and do the same thing over and over again. Television can be very repetitive, but there’s just no time for that on this show. It’s all growth and it’s all madness.
MM: Oh, I know! It is a crazy ride. The fans really loved the dynamic between Donnie and Helena that blossomed and progressed. As an actor, do you feel like you’re working with a completely different person when you have to shift from your usual scenes with Alison to the other clones?
KB: Yes. Totally. Earlier in the season, we were shooting—the same day we shot the twerking scene, actually—Tatiana was Helena in the first part of that day, and she was filming some of the stuff in the rendition army camp, and then later on in the day she had to switch to Alison and do the suburban stuff with me. It takes about an hour for her to switch over, take off all the makeup, take off the wigs, get the new makeup and new wigs on, and also change herself. Not just costume, but also just her being, her soul, her essence of each character. So we decided to do blocking for her soul for one of the scenes we shot just before she went to do the changeover so that the crew could start setting up the lights and everything else for the scene. I remember her walking in as Helena, having finished shooting her for the day, so she kind of dropped the accent and was Tat, so seeing her dressed as Helena but being Tat and also rehearsing Alison, and I’m looking across this Alison-Helena weird hybrid, I couldn’t keep a straight face. I couldn’t get the words out. I was so confused. I was laughing. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. It was so odd and so bizarre. And that was just rehearsal, a strangeness that never got recorded or anything like that. But when you start seeing her as someone else, like when she starts doing scenes or when I’m doing scenes with Helena, it was just so much fun and so bizarre. It was a different person. And Tat is still in there. Tat and I like to improv in character, sometimes before we get into the scene. We’ll start rolling, and they haven’t called action, but we’ll just be riffing, we’ll just be going back and forth as our characters. Just for fun, or just to get to a certain place so we can start the scene in the middle of something. So I got to discover a whole new character with Helena where we would just improv these ridiculous conversations, like how to make soap. It was so fresh and so new and so fun that I just fell in love with working with Helena, because that was so new. I love working with Alison, you know, that’s my wife, and that’s my first partnership I had. It’s like the classic now for me, for working with the clones. But Helena was so fresh and so new. I really hope I get to explore more with her. It was just so much ridiculous fun.
MM: Now that’s something that needs to be on the DVD extras. Just saying. This is going to be tough to answer, but if you were just a viewer like the rest of us, which clone would you say is your favorite?
KB: It kind of changes to be honest. In terms of the clone I want to hang out with every day, and just, like, chill out with, it would be Cosima, because she’s just so cool. She is bloody cool. Even in the last episode when she’s dealing with Mrs. S’s mom [Kendall Malone, played by Alison Steadman], she was just so calm and so cool and she could diffuse the situation with her personality and ease and her genuineness. So Cosima is someone I would hang out with on a regular basis. I would totally be friends with Cosima.
MM: Wouldn’t we all? [Laughs.]
KB: Yeah, yeah! Seriously. But Helena in season one is the one I was most fascinated with. In season two, I was most fascinated with Rachel. And in season three, I was most fascinated with Krystal. I also found Tony really fascinating as well. I really liked Tony. I hope Tony comes back because he’s so necessary and so interesting, and such an important experience level for most people digest and should watch and should understand. There’s always a newer clone that interests me each season.
MM: I think that’s good that it can change. It means that everybody is really invested in each of the clones in a different manner, and it’s not just you looking at one of them saying, “Yeah, that’s the one that I dig.”
KB: Yeah, exactly. As they grow, we grow with them. It’s cool to discover that. Some people will always love Cosima, and some with always love Cophine—Cosima and Delphine—
MM: I totally agree. The final few episodes of the season three have some great reveals. There’s the neolutionists coming back into play; Delphine proving her loyalty and then meeting her untimely demise; or finding the Castor and Leda original. What would you say shocked you the most this season? Or perhaps your favorite moment?
KB: Ah, there was so much.
MM: “Everything! The whole season!”
KB: I mean, honestly, it just kept rolling like crazy. Let’s see. There are so many moments. OK, I loved Helena’s escape from the rendition camp, like saving her little butter package and greasing herself up, and then turning her back on Sarah. I found that interesting. I loved the creepy stuff, like Seth and Rudy, two brother clones, making love to the same clone. That was so odd and creepy. The Castor clones were so well executed. And so easily dislikable, but also still human. Such a fascinating job. In a sense, Ari’s [Millen, who plays the set of Castor clones] task was so much harder than Tat’s this season, because Tat has established these characters that people love and Tat is used to flipping in and out of them. And Ari has to come along and create these characters, give us this team of characters that are almost quite similar, and yet all clearly defined differently. Such an incredibly difficult task, and I think he really knocked it out of the park. I really loved his work a lot this season. Because he’s in the bad guy, it’s almost easy to not think of him—because, “He’s the bad guy, whatever!” But his work was fascinating this season. I really, really, really enjoyed it. Uh, Paul’s death. He really filled in in the last two episodes, which is just incredibly. Such depth to Paul that we hadn’t seen yet. That was amazing to behold, just watching that all go down.
MM: I know. So much happened. I feel like this season was jam-packed with so much good stuff. It wasn’t filler. It was amazing things that were happening. It’s great.
KB: I agree!