Exclusive Interview: Orphan Black’s Jordan Gavaris

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Jordan Gavaris Orphan Black Interview

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 Jordan Gavaris, who plays Felix Dawkins, Sarah’s (Tatiana Maslany) foster brother. Jordan and I discuss getting back in character and evolving Felix.

Felix has been so busy. How does he manage to juggle his worlds of art and prostitution?
[Laughs] He’s losing clients! He’s been so preoccupied in dealing with Sarah! It’s been neat [filming]this season because I’ve been given the chance to show the art as kind of expressionist form, instead of it just being there in the background. I’ve been given the chance to express myself with some paint. It’s always nice to see the private moments of a character. We’ll see a bit more of Felix’s personal life in season two. I don’t mean in the sexual sense, but I mean his private and personal moments. We get to see him on his own a bit.

Will we see Felix interact with someone new this season? Any romantic prospects?
Yes – there is a guest star in particular that he has some very interesting scenes with. I’m not allowed to say who or why. In fact, it’ll be quite different for him. The scenes with this particular person will be quite different. Fans are going to really like it. It was a stretch for me – I really had to dig deep. That’s the only tease that I’m allowed to give!

Jordan Gavaris Orphan Black Interview

Felix has started to care more about other people.
Yes, and I think he was just so used to keeping his genuine self only for Sarah. His feelings and ability to care were reserved only for her. But you are right, now he cares for someone like Alison. They’ve inexplicably developed this bizarre bond that I quite enjoy playing. That’s a lovely side of him to see. He’s different with every clone. He’s different with each person, as we all are in life. There are very few people who are 100% consistent with everyone all the time. Felix is nothing if not a social savant, as overdramatic as he may be.

The show has become such a hit.
There is no key demographic for this show, and if there was, we’ve obliterated it. I’ve met fans as young as 15 and as old as 55, and probably older. My grandparents in particular, they watch the show but I don’t think they understand it. But they do watch it. I’m sure I gave my grandfather a heart attack when he saw my ass. It’s really multigenerational.

It’s just so wicked for Canada. Yes, we have American money and we’re affiliated with the BBC, but we’re entirely Canadian staffed – creatively speaking, which means a lot. When you give Canadians the funds, it means that we can churn out something really interesting. We’ve got the cojones! We’ve got the talent; it’s just the matter of money.

Jordan Gavaris Orphan Black Interview

How was it meeting your fans at Fan Expo and Comic-Con?
It was absolutely unbelievable. Fan Expo and Comic-Con are experiences in of it themselves. It’s extraordinary. The fans are voracious. The fans are very inquisitive and challenge you. They are very critical, but in a good way. They challenge you and your knowledge of the show. They challenge what you think you know about your character. I’ve walked a way from a conversation after having been asked a question and realized that the fan has probed me to explore Felix in a way that I may have not realized initially.

I try to, as best as I can, ignore the majority of what the fans like and dislike. You don’t want to fall into the trap of letting the audience dictate the choices you make for your character because that’s so easy to do. There’s a big difference in sustaining a character versus creating a character. The first season was an exploration in creativity and a character study, a lot of wondering, “Who is this person,” combined with “Who is going to see this show? It’s only ten episodes and we could get cancelled.” But now, it’s sitting down and having a conversation with yourself and plotting out the arc for the next five or six season…or even 500 seasons! God help me, I don’t think I’ll live that long, nor should I.

So, no to the 500 seasons.
Unless they somehow creative life sustaining medication.

Or they could just clone you.
They could clone me! They could very well clone me. But then nature versus nurture. Maybe my clone would want to be an architect. God help me if my clone would want to be an architect.

Was it hard for you getting back in character after the hiatus?
Oh, I had my panic attacks wondering, “Oh god, am I going to find him again?” I panicked the day before we went to camera wondering if I hadn’t practiced enough. I danced around my apartment to Lana Del Rey. But it did not help me at all. I panicked for a second and thought, “Oh my god, I lost him. He’s not here and I’ve completely lost all sight of this character.”

But of course, that’s not true. It was actually pretty easy walking back on set. It was like greeting an old friend! The reality is that you have to be open to change with characters. You have to be open to their evolution. In life, we evolve as people, so it’s natural that characters would evolve over time as well. I think that something that I’m working on this season, as an experiment, is to make Felix slightly more connected and rooted. Make him less like he’s performing and more like he’s just living.

Jordan Gavaris Orphan Black Interview

Where will we see Felix when the show returns for the second season? Will Felix be helping Sarah search for her daughter, Kira (Skyler Wexler)?
I think it’s safe to say that we pick up relatively quickly after we last saw Sarah. We kind of take off like a bullet out of a gun! That energy and intensity comes from Sarah, as well as Rachel on her end. As always, I suspect that Felix will be right where he should be, with his sister. In what capacity? That, I cannot tell you. But, his patience is wearing thin. There has been a lot of shit that has been dumped on him and that’s Sarah’s M.O. She shows up with a bag of shit and she throws it all at him and disappears again. I think we’re at a point where the character is just at his wit’s end. This is kind of the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Any big challenges for yourself this season?
Time is always a challenge. From prep to post, it’s only six months. That’s just for ten episodes. That’s not a normal filming schedule. Most network dramas shoot 22 episodes in nine months, with time to spare. We’re stretching this out because we’re shooting each episode like a film.

Cable is so competitive and we’re competing with some major shows that are sweeping awards season like The Americans, The Walking Dead, Rectify and even the final season of Breaking Bad.

We’re also working on location [a lot more this season]. We’re trying to make this show be as big as possible and trying to give the audience something special. That means earlier call times and later nights.

It sounds like you’re still having fun.
I am having a lot of fun!

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Space.

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About Author

Jeevan Brar is a digital content producer and freelance entertainment writer based in Toronto. Jeevan has managed The TV Watercooler since 2008, the Canadian blog has focused on daytime soaps, primetime hits and reality TV guilty pleasures. The blog has also connected Canadian soap fans with exclusive interviews with the cast of enduring daytime dramas The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful. 'Like' The TV Watercooler on Facebook. You can also follow Jeevan on Twitter and Google+.

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