Last year’s breakout series Orphan Black returns for its second season this Saturday on Space. I was on set before they wrapped filming and was able to speak with Kristian Bruun, who plays Donnie Hendrix, Alison’s (Tatiana Maslany) husband and monitor. Kristian shares his thoughts on the monitor twist, what it was like filming his torture scene and the comedic beats he gets to play out.
The season one finale ended with a shock for your character. Donnie’s actually Alison monitor! It wasn’t Aynsley (Natalie Lisinska).
At the end of season one, Alison thinks she’s free and clear. As far as she knows, Donnie is just good old Donnie!
That must be exciting to play.
It’s the most exciting thing to get to play. When you and the audience are in on the joke, it’s a fun place to play.
Did you know about the twist all along? When did you find out that Donnie was actually Alison’s monitor?
No! Not until I read episode ten. I had no idea but I had been asking Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, the show creators, what the deal was, “I am in fact the monitor?” The whole way, even when I was getting tortured in episode six with the glue gun, they were like, “You know what? We don’t know. You might be the monitor, you might not be. Just play the information that you know, which is that you’re not the monitor,” which is a great tip for an actor because when you are not playing with any hint of knowledge of the character, you’re just going based solely on what the audience has as well.
How was it filming the torture scene last season?
That was the most fun episode of TV that I have ever filmed! Oh my god, it was so much fun! I spent days taped to that wooden chair with duct tape! I think my butt went numb from that wooden chair. It was just so much fun to sit there and…get tortured! I had never done a torture scene before. It’s a fun torture scene though, in that it was comedic. It was light. It must have been so much fun to watch as an audience member, to see someone get tortured with a sparkly glue gun!
Alison’s world is just so much more comedic than the other clones.
I agree – she’s so funny. Tatiana is amazing as Alison because she plays her just so uptight and suburban. There’s something that so hilarious to watch, to watch someone become unhinged with the boozing, pill popping and flying off the handle. That whole world has got the comedic relief for the whole show. Donnie, Alison and even those kids, it’s just so funny how they set everything up. The whole suburban world is lampooned without becoming too goofy. It’s just the right amount of comedy.
We’re assuming there’s a lot more Donnie in season two.
You get more Donnie than before! I don’t want to give anything away, but now that we know he’s a monitor, you get to see him doing his thing.
Paul’s (Dylan Bruce) is the other monitor and he’s not really such a bad guy. Is Donnie a villain?
[Laughs] Donnie has a heart. First of all, he is a father and he loves his kids. He also loves Alison – he loves his wife. They’ve both been together since high school. They have a history together. You get to see a little bit of that history this season. He has a heart and not just a purely evil person. It wouldn’t be fun to play someone who is purely evil either. Any bad guy, you’ve got to like them on some level. A bad guy like Hannibal Lecter, he’s clearly evil and psychotic but you kind of like him and root for him.
Will we see how Donnie was recruited? Was it out of high school or was he sent into Alison’s high school?
Well, I can’t give anything away right now, but we’ll learn more information towards that.
Does Donnie get any action scenes? Or are those just for the other monitor, Paul.
The hunky guys get all the action. Old schlubby Donnie gets tortured! Things ramp up a little bit, that’s all I can say. I think people really enjoyed watching Donnie the first season. He’s the character that people like seeing bad things happen to. You get that with Vic (Michael Mando) as well. Vic and Donnie get a lot of that physical abuse and comedy thing going on, so there are those elements which will continue, but on a different level.
Will Donnie grow suspicious of Felix (Jordan Gavaris)?
As far as Donnie knows, Felix is Alison’s acting teacher. There will be a little bit more interaction. In terms of what Donnie knows about him, he’s just wondering “Why is this guy always around?”
Donnie doesn’t know much about Clone Club?
That’s the one loveable thing about Donnie. He’s kind of clueless.
Is that how you approach this role?
I don’t want to disservice Donnie by playing him clueless. I don’t mind it if the audience perceives him as clueless, but I think he’s smarter than people give him credit for. I think that’s fun and interesting to play.
Did you change your outlook on the character when you found out he really was Alison’s monitor after all?
It was terribly exciting. I wanted Donnie to be the monitor so badly. When I read that, I was so excited because I’d get to go back for season two, but on a whole new level which will expand his character. Every actor wants that. I get to have more fun with this guy, but on a darker level now. It’s a more sinister level.
I only worked during the Alison scenes, so it was just the suburban part of the show. I was never around for the filming of the Sarah or Cosima parts. I watched the series when it came out and I was just gob smacked at how funny Tatiana is. I think if this show was just drama, it would be too heavy to watch all the time. I think the series plays the comedic parts at just the right time. The same with Felix, Jordan’s hilarious as well. My favourite element of the show is how they can play the comedy and drama – it’s a good balance between the two.
With Tatiana, is it easy to forget that it’s the same actress who is playing all those roles?
Oh yeah. All the time. Watching the show, definitely. Any scenes with multiple clones or a scene where they are not all in the same scene together, you can’t help but look at them as a separate people. It’s a credit to Tatiana.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Space.