For most actors, it is tough enough playing one character. For Canadian film, television and stage actor Ari Millen, it is just another day at work donning multiple roles for the science fiction series Orphan Black .
Currently in its fourth season, the human cloning thriller has Ari playing Mark Rollins, the character he had signed up for in season two, as well as his clone brothers Seth, Miller and Rudy and the latest entrant, Ira.
Speaking to MetroPlus over phone, Ari says the show is the most inventive he has ever done. “ Orphan Black has me doing the largest role I’ve ever had. Getting to evolve over three seasons with these characters is a new journey for me. In other roles, I might only act for a few days or a month.”
What is great about the show, Ari explains, is that because there are so many protagonists, there is something for everybody. “I’m excited to hear that we have a lot of fans in India. There is so much more in store this new season for fans all over the world.”
On how much of him he sees in his characters, Ari points out that he finds a lot in them that are him.
“At the same time, since the character development of each is so different, in the end, it is not a lot. I bind with the character and we just flow together.”
The most challenging part to play for Ari comes in the form of the new character Ira. “He’s the complete opposite of anything we’ve come to see with me before. He is certainly the hardest for me to discover and create. I didn’t expect this character to be such a challenge. He is someone I had to work really hard.”
Recalling how it all began for him, Ari says acting was something he naturally did. “My friends and I had cameras and we used to make our own movies as kids. Later, at the end of high school, it just sort of happened and I decided this is what I wanted to do.”
What are his strengths and weaknesses? Ari laughs and says: “I get cast as the bad guy a lot. I guess that is a strength for me. People see me as a bad guy. But I think I’m a good guy. Comedy is one of the hardest things for me. I don’t know how I would do in a comedy role. I think I’ll stick to playing the bad guy for now.”
Looking ahead, the actor hopes to just keep working. “My ideal career will be a healthy mix of theatre, a quality show or a movie or two. As long as it’s challenging me and work that I’m proud of, I really don’t have any specifics.”
To aspiring actors, Ari shares one message: “For me it’s such an important art form, because of the impact it has on people. If it is what you want to do, you have support and it’s making you happy, go for it.”
Catch the BBC production Orphan Black on AXN every Sunday from 11 p.m. onwards.