‘Orphan Black’ Season 4 Kristian Bruun Interview: Donnie & Alison Want a Normal Life

Kristian Bruun Orphan Black
‘Orphan Black’ star Kristian Bruun at WonderCon (Photo by Richard Chavez / Showbiz Junkies)

With the much-anticipated fourth season of Orphan Black set to premiere on April 14, 2016, BBC America kicked up the hype level by bringing cast members Kristian Bruun, Jordan Gavaris, and Kevin Hanchard along with co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett to WonderCon to answer questions from fans and to participate in roundtable interviews. Jordan Gavaris promises season four is going to be one of the show’s best, while Kristian Bruun told us that this upcoming season will find Donnie and his newly elected School Trustee wife Alison striving for a bit of normalcy in their lives after finishing up their brief stint as drug dealers. Bruun also said that fans of the series can look forward to more entertaining scenes between his character, Donnie, and Helena, the craziest of the clones played by Tatiana Maslany.

Kristian Bruun Interview:

Last season really proved Donnie will do anything for Alison.

Kristian Bruun: “They’ve certainly found the mojo in their marriage. They’ve got that back in season two and you get the continuation of that in season three and the family unit being closer than ever. We’re going to see some more of that this season, for sure. But life within the show, with this clone crazy sestrahood going on, it’s very hard to get back to normal which is all Alison and Donnie want. That’s a very large part of their struggle this season, but they still got the love. That’s important. You’ve got to have the love.”

Do they still have the store?

Kristian Bruun: “Bubbles is still around. It’s a legitimate business. Last season Bubbles was a pill front and everything kind of blew up in our face. There’s the election going on, Donnie almost got his nose cut off in a paper cutter by the Portuguese mafia – you know, that old thing. That happens. So they just want to be normal, everything to be legit. Whether or not that happens, that’s another story. But, yeah, it’s going to be a very exciting season in the suburbs.”

So he’ll be a politician’s husband…

Kristian Bruun: “He’ll be the first lady. Donnie Hendrix, First Lady.”

It looks like we’re being teased in the trailers that they’re trying to get pregnant.

Kristian Bruun: “Well, there’s so many interesting angles to that. Of course they’ve never had children themselves. They adopted their kids who they love like they are their own. But there’s a lot of fun conspiracy theory unraveling this season, and there’s a lot of questions and answers that people are looking for happen this season. That kind of ties in to them.”

If they’re trying to get back to normal, will they try to distance themselves from the sisters?

Kristian Bruun: “Alison has always been pretty separate from the sestrahood because she’s always wanted to keep her family safe and out of the craziness because, yeah, there’s murders going on and deaths. And, of course, we’ve had our own spate of murders between the two of us – Alison and Donnie – in the suburbs. So trying to get that quiet suburban life back is going to be difficult. There’s no escaping the sisterhood, nor does she want to. She really cares about her sisters quite a lot. But it’s up to Donnie and her to really try and keep that family separate. And of course we have Helena living with us now and she is a crazy roommate. She’s a ravenous pregnant lady who can sometimes fly off the handle. So definitely keeping people safe is a challenge in the suburbs.”

Are you having fun playing that relationship between Donnie and Helena?

Kristian Bruun: “So much. I love working with Helena. She’s such a wild card. Tat is so much fun to work with in any clone getup but with Helena, Tat and I like to improv quite a bit and improv’ing with Helena leading up into a scene or coming out of a scene – that’s kind of when we just like to have some fun and banter and see what sticks potentially. But Helena is just so out there that the stuff that Helena/Tat comes up with in improv is just incredible and so much fun to play with and so full of energy. It’s never a boring day at work, that’s for sure.”

Do you talk to the writers about Donnie?

Kristian Bruun: “I just try to get the writers drunk and then spilling secrets. No, I’m joking. The great thing on this show which I haven’t experienced on shows is that it’s really a writers medium for us and the writers are really highly respected. Every time we’re filming an episode, the writer will be there right next to the director every day we’re on set for that episode, for their episode. And I’ve seen the directors turn to the writers and say, ‘Is that what you’re thinking of for this scene? Does that work for you?’ And I’ve seen the writers say, ‘Yeah, that’s fantastic. Thank you, but I was also thinking maybe we could try this angle for the scene,’ because there’s a million different ways you can shoot the scene. And the directors always respect that. They’re like, ‘Okay, we’ll do it your way, we’ll do it my way, and we’ll see what happens in the edit.’

They really take a lot of time to respect the writers and what they want. Having them on set is such a good resource as an actor because if you have a question about the character or you don’t quite understand why your character is saying this, or if you have an idea for another line even, you can go right to the director right there and ask them. They’re super receptive to that and they let us improv and they trust us with their scenes to let us improv a little bit which is very, very rare. So it’s a huge amount of respect that they give us that they allow us to do that. But the writers are a really important part of the show and they’re given their due and their respect. You see it because a lot of our writers get their own TV series and they’re off constantly getting poached – not poached, they’ve earned their own series and they’re all producing them. I’m really proud of our writers and I’m proud to see them get what’s due to them as well.”

Do the actors have any input on storylines?

Kristian Bruun: “No, I think they do such a good job at coming up with the story and there’s story editors. The writing room is very strong and quite large, and there’s writers that stay on – even though their episode has been written and they’re done, they’ll stay on for a few more episodes and really continue to work on the story that they set up in their episode. It’s very much a family feeling in that room and that’s what makes this whole show a really tight family. I don’t like to go to them and be like, ‘You know what would be a good idea? If Donnie wore more clothes…’ I don’t try and do that because I really love everything they come up with. The most I’ll do is be like, ‘How are you going to top the twerking scene? I don’t think you can top that.’ You try to reverse psychology them to be like, ‘Oh, we have to top that,’ and they do every year.

There’s always one or two scenes with Donnie every season that are just like mind-blowingly fun, ridiculous, sometimes stupid and wonderful at the same time. They love challenging us as well. They don’t just have us doing the same thing over and over and over again, which can happen in television. It can be repetitive sometimes. But they’re constantly growing every character. And what’s amazing about them is they have five lead characters played by one actress – that’s five storylines right there that are very hard to keep going clearly. But yet we have all of these auxiliary characters with each clone and they do this amazing job of growing all of these characters too. And, they fit that into 10 episodes every year. It’s incredible how good they are at their job. It’s very easy not to notice that because you’re just enjoying the story so much. That’s part of the charm of them is that they can really spend so much time with every single character on the show. We have incredible new characters this season that I think you guys will really get a kick out of.”

Watch the full interview with Kristian Bruun on Orphan Black season four: