OnlyOnAOL: Why 'Orphan Black' star Tatiana Maslany counts sheep

Tatiana Maslany on "Orphan Black"
Tatiana Maslany on "Orphan Black"

By: Donna Freydkin

Tatiana Maslany has played a cop, an evolutionary biologist, an assassin and a CEO on the BBC mind-bending drama "Orphan Black." In an industry where many women lament the lack of one meaty roles, Maslany is swimming in them, playing a character and her numerous clones.

But there's one skill she wishes she had. "I sleep as much as I possibly can. I can't sleep at the best of times. My brain doesn't shut off," says the Emmy and Golden Globe nominee.

Her performance -- and its numerous iterations -- has dazzled critics; the season four finale airs Thursday. Given the sheer number of women she plays, Maslany relies on specific cues to keep them straight. "It depends. There's certain keys into these different characters, whether it's physicality or music or movement. There's a shorthand that my body knows. The hair and makeup and wardrobe change really helps. My cast always treats me differently depending on who I'm cast as," she says.

She appreciates the unique richness of her many roles, in an industry where many women are lucky to land just one. "It's been such a cool experience getting to play characters that I probably would normally be cast as, like high-powered executives or serial killers. It's been a fun experience to break through those limits," says Maslany.

The Canadian actress, who's headlining the drama "Stronger" about the Boston Marathon bombing (opposite Jake Gyllenhaal) says that she isn't method on set.

"There's an energy that remains. It's not like I'm walking around having people say my name as the character," says Maslany. "The biggest challenge is the technical, creative side of it -- creating someone new and trying to breathe a different life into my performance. The most rewarding thing is that same exact thing. I get to explore all these lives at the same time. I get to really mix it up."

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