“Shady McShadester” – Orphan Black Press Round Table with Dylan Bruce


Currently starring in the second series of Orphan Black as the ambiguous and slightly sinister Paul Dierden, Dylan Bruce spoke to press at Saturday’s MCM London Comic Con about his experiences of working on the show.

So, how does it feel to be here at the MCM London Comic Con? Are you enjoying yourself?

It feels fantastic to be at the MCM Comic Con! I wasn’t expecting it to be so big. There’s a lot of interesting cosplay going on and a lot of Orphan Black fans so it’s great to come over to London and be here to support our show which is airing on BBC Three right now. It’s a great experience.

How exciting has it been to be part of that Orphan Black world? Because it’s really been loved by fans and critics.

It has! We didn’t think people would be that into our show. I mean, it felt like we were shooting something special while we were doing it. We’ve developed quite the cult following and that kind of dedication from our fans is just continuing – the word of mouth thing is making our fandom grow and it’s really great to see that and to be a part of a show that we all feel is very special.

What excited you about the show and why did you think it was special?

When I read the first script I knew instantly that it was gonna be something special. Our writers are brilliant – they’re so smart and so in tune with the real world and what’s really going on and they’re not afraid to take risks. So, as an actor, you don’t really have to do too much work because it’s all there on the page. But also, our show wouldn’t be anything like as good as it is without the brilliant Tatiana Maslany jumping in and out of all these different characters. I’m ecstatic to be a part of this show! It’s just getting better and better. We set the bar extremely high for ourselves in Season One and I think Season Two has exceeded that. It’s a real blessing to be a part of this!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWhat do you think it is about Season Two that’s going to take things to the next level?

I think Tatiana has really taken it to the next level. I can’t believe that girl has the stamina that she does because she’s playing against herself in a lot of scenes and to do what she’s doing is nothing short of miraculous. I think the story’s getting more interesting. It’s getting bigger. And like I said, with the fans, it feels like our show just keeps gaining momentum and keeps gaining speed. We’re not afraid to take chances is how I like to explain it. Also, BBC America is very supportive of the network and gives a lot of creative freedom and I think that makes the show a lot more interesting as well.

Could we talk for a bit about your character?

Shady McShadester, yes.

What’s been the best thing about playing that character?

Oh, you can never put your thumb on him or decide what he’s really like or where his loyalties lie. He’s a very cold, calculating, methodical kind of guy, but at the same time he has a softer side, and I think that’s what makes this show so great – you never know where a character’s true intentions lie, what his true feelings are or which way any one of our characters is gonna go. They’re always swaying on both sides of the fence.

How would you like to see your character develop?

I put full faith and trust in the writers for character development. They’re brilliant because they’re not just writing the character as they feel he should be written. They actually look to you for some creative input as well. I really like the others that I’m in Season Two with – the new clone Rachel, as well as Dr. Leekie. I think is very fun and different and interesting, and there are a lot more surprises coming up. I was really pleased with how this season ended, without giving away too much.

Where would you like to see Paul’s relationship with Sarah go?

You know, it’s a very tumultuous relationship currently. He still feels some responsibility for what happened to Beth but he sees redemption through Sarah, and also he has feelings for Sarah. But at the same time, she has a lot on her plate and he doesn’t know if the feelings are reciprocal. He’s looking out for number one – he’s the guy that’s always looked out for number one – but I really love the dynamic between Paul and Sarah. I hope that it’ll be explored more but, she did kick Paul in the face in Episode One of Season Two and she’s also back with her baby’s daddy now, so he’s in a very precarious position involving Sarah. He does feel some sort of hurt over what happened but you never know where his loyalties lie.

Do you have a favourite episode that you’ve worked on so far?

I do! I would have to say that my favourite from Season One was Variations Under Domestication which was Episode Six, with the “pot luck” at Alison’s house. I think it had the perfect blend of comedy, drama, dark comedy – that episode had it all. And it was fun to put a nail gun to someone’s head! It was fun seeing the psychotic side of Paul and being able to kick some butt! As far as Season Two is concerned, my favourite episode would have to be the final episode.

You mentioned before that your character is cold and calculating and very self-interested. Are those qualities you can relate to yourself? Because you don’t seem like that.

I know – everybody when they first meet me is like, “You are so different from your character on television,” and I think, “Well, thank you very much,” because I’m not too stoic as an individual. I show a lot more emotion than this guy. But at the same time there’s a reason why this character is the way he is, because, you know, with his back story – he killed six marines in a friendly fire and so I figured he’s suffering from some sort of PTSD. He’s got a lot of inner turmoil so he doesn’t emote a lot. A lot of the stage directions are like “Paul – best poker face,” so that’s why he’s very stone-faced a lot of the time. I think that’s gonna change at the end of the season. I think we’re gonna see a little more emotion from this character. But I couldn’t be further from this character – that’s why it’s called acting.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYou mentioned that the writers ask you for input into the characters. Is there anything in particular that you feel that you’ve contributed or any directions that you’ve pushed them to take?

Well, I always say I wanna kick more butt. I say I want more fighting scenes, I want more guns blazing, all that kind of stuff. That hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know if they’re necessarily taking my advice. It’s more in terms of the lines, like, “Would your character say this?” or “How would he say it?” But I definitely put my two cents in. I want facial hair, I want a lower voice – I think it shows more gravitas and seems more sinister. Little things like that.

We’ve talked about favourite episodes but do you have any favourite characters apart from your own?

I love Felix. I think Felix is fantastic and Jordan Gavaris plays him brilliantly. I personally have never heard an American – well, he’s a Canadian, but he’s spent some time in the States – but I’ve never heard anyone do a better British accent than him. I’m also really in love with the clone Helena. She’s one of those characters that you just feel for. She’s a psychopathic character which makes her very interesting, but for some reason you’re just drawn to her and you feel sorry for her. And I love Alison because I grew up in the suburbs, which means I’ve come across quite a few soccer moms in my time and I think she’s acted really well. So those would probably be my top three.

We’ve seen so many great clones on the show so far. What kind of clone would you like to see next if there could be any kind of clone?

Any type of clone? I would like to see a Paul Terminator clone. I think that would be fantastic! Like in Terminator 2, I can’t remember the actor’s name, but he was the liquid guy?

Robert Patrick?

Yes, yes, Robert Patrick, that was it! I would love that, cos, you know, Paul goes to Taiwan with Rachel and maybe there’s some new technology over there where we can make a Paul liquid clone – whatever kind of liquid he was made of, I don’t remember. I think a Felix clone would be fantastic. Also maybe an Art clone. I love the character of Art. I don’t think Kevin Hanchard gets enough credit because he’s the moral compass of the show, and I think seeing a clone of his character going in a completely different direction would be great. I think he would play it beautifully because he’s a fantastic actor.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWhat would a clone of Art or Felix clone be like, do you think?

I don’t know. I think it would be very interesting to see Jordan on a different end of the spectrum. As for an Art clone – you know, Kevin can pull anything off, so I think they’d both be brilliant.

What do you think sci-fi and fantasy give to audiences that they don’t get from other kinds of contemporary drama?

I think our show is sci-fi based in reality because cloning is a real thing, right? I mean, it’s not like we have aliens and all sorts of crazy spaceships and stuff like that in our show. But as far as the broad spectrum of sci-fi shows is concerned, I think it’s a world of fantasy that a lot of people like to escape into. So I think sci-fi is a great realm for television viewers. I’m a big fan of sci-fi myself. I love Battlestar Galactica and Lost. Alias is kind of sci-fi-ish. It’s an interesting thing because you don’t see other dramas or comedies having big conventions. The fandom out there definitely loves its sci-fi.

What are you up to at the moment? Where else will we see you?

I’m in a Lifetime movie called Petals on the Wind, based on the V. C. Andrews book. That’s starring Heather Graham and the magnificent Ellen Burstyn. I have a pretty prominent role in that. I just shot a pilot for Robert Rodriguez called Matador I had a lot of fun doing that, doing a bit Robert Rodriguez action sequence. That was something I really enjoyed.

What was it like working with him?

He’s fantastic! He’s brilliant! He’s probably the most down-to-earth, laid back guy. He had his guitar on set and was strumming mariachi tunes. And no one does action and gore better than Robert Rodriguez. I was pinching myself every day on that film set.

And if that gets picked up for a series would we be seeing more of you in that?

That’s a possibility, yes, but obviously my obligations lie with Orphan Black.

Do you have a message for fans before you leave us?

Thank you so much for making Orphan Black what it is. Clone Club, you’re the best, you rock and we love you!

Orphan Black, Season Two is currently showing on BBC Three on Wednesdays at 10pm.

Photographs by Caitlin Jenkins.

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