Warning: This article may contain Orphan Black spoilers.
Ari Millen is nothing like the clones he portrays on the hit BBC America series Orphan Black, especially when he is surrounded by the new joys of his life: actress Kassandra Santos, his fiancee, and Lily, his daughter born just 32 hours before this latest interview.
"It's absolutely the greatest thing that has ever happened."
In spite of Millen's state of bliss, he still has that perfect intensity that has made him so likable as a bad guy in shows like Reign and 12 Monkeys. Lately, however, Orphan Black has made excellent use of that dark appeal, casting him in the role of Rudy, and as his clone brothers Seth, Miller, and Mark. Those Orphan Black roles weren't expected to last, when Ari was first cast. From the beginning, Millen understood that his character would ber killed off by the sixth episode.
"Then somewhere along the way they changed their minds," the Orphan Black actor said. "I'm very thankful they let me live, obviously."
Now, Millen plays four separate Orphan Black characters and, at times, it must seem like a chore to keep them separated, but Ari says that he understands each Orphan Black character intimately.
"The easiest way for me to describe it is that Rudy, he's a bit of a peacock. He's the smartest guy in the room, and to exert that prowess, he'll look at a person, figure out how to push that person's button and as soon as that person rocks, he's got the upper hand. Miller is quintessential military. Seth is almost the runt of the litter but also probably the best soldier of them all. He's constantly looking for approval from his brothers, so he's willing to be that much more vicious to get it...Mark is a wild card. He doesn't want to be part of Project Castor, so he's trying to distance himself from his family, which is a major theme this season: who your family is, and how the family dynamic exists. But his brothers are not going to let him go without a fight."Millen muses on his role, finding the most excitement from taking the lead protagonist on, a feeling that was only quelled by the fact that Ari and Orphan Black's lead, Tatiana Maslany, were no strangers.
"There is something called the Canadian Improv Games, and both of our high schools made it to the national tournament in Ottawa," Millen revealed in a Rolling Stone interview. "We played in the finals of that tournament together."
Even being familiar with Maslany, Ari Millen recognized a valuable resource in his Orphan Black co-star, knowing that Tatiana was someone who had both set the standard for playing Orphan Black clones so high, and provided the perfect model from which to learn.
"The clone dance party was the first time I got to watch her work, knowing what my future was going to be," Millen says. "I really watched how she navigated it all: Each character is different and you've got to approach it a different way."
Millen cautions fans not to get too comfortable with his four clones, since no one, not even the Orphan Black writers, know what will become of them or how many more clones Ari will be expected to take on as Orphan Black's season progresses. Ari does promise that this season will provide answers to some of Orphan Black's most pressing questions.
"The plot is going to always get deeper and darker, and we are going to start learning why things are the way they are," Millen says. "We are the quintessential dysfunctional family of the modern era, after all."
Orphan Black airs tonight on BBC America. Check local listings for times.
[Featured image: Ari Millen courtesy of BBC America/Orphan Black]