Interview: Actress Tatiana Maslany talks ‘Picture Day’

A scene from Picture Day. Courtesy TIFF.

The new series Orphan Black is generating huge buzz and already has a cult following, due to the incredible versatility of Canadian star Tatiana Maslany. In the movie Picture Day, she plays a rebellious and sexually adventurous teen, torn between her steamy romps with an older musician, and a younger teen’s unrequited crush on her.

Claire has a seemingly carefree spirit many of us envy, but we soon see a vulnerability. What’s your take on Claire’s complex and contradictory character?

Tatiana Maslany: I think Claire’s personality and habits are very much shaped by her family life. We see glimpses of her mother and the sort of absence of her mother. I think Claire was forced to grow up quickly, to be independent at a young age and consequently she’s very attracted to the adult world. I think it’s where her sexual confidence might come from. Ultimately, she’s a child, and while she would never admit it, she needs people. She needs intimacy, she needs support, she needs love.

What were you more of a rebel or a geek in high school?

TM: I was way more of a geek. I was on the improv team. I didn’t party. I guess that’s a form of rebellion, since everyone was doing it, and I wasn’t.

What attracted you most to this script and to Claire’s character?

TM: I loved that the script never condemned or judged Claire for her sexuality. I loved that sex was like a conversation to her, how she relates to people, and she can’t quite understand why people think what she’s doing is so bad. I loved the humour of the script. I loved that it focused on relationships, shifts in dynamics between people, and wasn’t super plot heavy.

One of my favourite things about this film was how realistic and natural the flow of dialogue was. How was that achieved?

TM: (Director) Kate Melville’s dialogue is very natural and she also rehearsed with us a great deal, gave us a very relaxed playground in which to work. She allowed and encouraged us to improvise, and play within the script as well.

What was your favourite part of the experience working on Picture Day?

TM: I just loved the process. Kate gave us so much free reign as actors, so much trust. She allowed us to explore and play, and find each other, and that’s the greatest gift a director can give to the actors, I think.

To what extend does the success of big budget productions you’ve been in allow you freedom to also work on small-budget and indie projects, like Picture Day?

TM: I honestly think the buzz Picture Day got at TIFF this year actually gave me a leg up when I auditioned for Orphan Black. The visibility from a festival like TIFF is priceless. But yeah, working on higher profile pieces definitely affords me the space to be a bit more selective.

What’s your take on the indie film scene in Canada right now, and the opportunities within it?

TM: I look at so many of my age group right now starting their careers as directors and writers and I get so excited. I feel like there’s a whole new wave of voices. Xavier Dolan is a perfect example. He is so young and his voice is so strong and bold, and being heard all over the world. He’s putting Canada on the map in a very unique way, with a very specific unique perspective. I think we’ve got incredible resources and talent in Canada. I just think sometimes we bow down a bit towards the states and forget to foster our stories.

You’ve done improv, horror, drama and sci-fi to name a few. Is there any genre, or type of role that you haven’t done yet… and are itching to try?

TM: Cartoons!! Or like a dance movie. A tap dance movie.

Picture Day is playing at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto until Thursday, May 3o.

Isabel Cupryn

About Isabel Cupryn

Isabel Cupryn is a freelance writer and film blogger in Toronto.