The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany


An unapologetic feminist, Maslany is frequently hailed as a purveyor of Strong Female Characters. Though appreciative, Maslany finds this a reductive formulation. “That’s so boring!” she said, and went on to condemn the way female strength gets shoehorned into the confines of male-dominated narratives. “What about the strength of this uncharted territory we’ve never explored on camera? We haven’t seen them yet, they’re not archetypes yet, because they’re all related to male expression.”

She cited Gena Rowlands, in her role as Mabel in John Cassavetes’s 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence, as a truly innovative model for a Strong Female Character. The film concerns Mabel, a housewife and misfit, and her husband, Nick, played by Peter Falk. Mabel is spectacularly eccentric but desperately wants not to be. Scenes in which she tries to be a good hostess or order a drink at a bar are spellbinding failures. She’s eventually sent away to an asylum to be “cured,” and she and her husband deal with the aftermath.

“Her performance is so strong to me, because it’s full of vulnerability, full of fragility, full of nuttiness,” Maslany said. “Like, she’s big in this movie. She does things I’ve never seen a woman — or a man or anybody — do on camera, like these little tics and things like that that are so funny and so bizarre. That’s what I want to see. Like, I don’t want to see a robotic woman in a cat suit who can kick ass. I don’t give a [expletive] about that. It’s just not real.”

Lili!!!! Her profile of Tatiana Maslany, the star of Orphan Black, is here, and I would like you to go read it right now and then come back so we can discuss our feelings.