Entertainment Television

Tatiana Maslany flexes acting muscles in ‘Stronger’

By Liz Braun, Postmedia Network

Tatiana Maslany attends the "Stronger" premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 8, 2017 in Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Tatiana Maslany attends the "Stronger" premiere during the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 8, 2017 in Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

If you love Tatiana Maslany’s work on Orphan Black, then you have something in common with filmmaker David Gordon Green.

Green — who raves about the show — cast Maslany, 31, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the film Stronger.

It opens Friday.

Stronger tells the true story of ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances. Jeff Bauman (played by Gyllenhaal) was waiting at the finish line for his ex-girlfriend, Erin Hurley, to finish running the Boston Marathon in 2013.

When the terrorist bombs went off, Bauman’s legs were destroyed and had to be amputated at the knee.

Hurley (played by Maslany) then came back into Bauman’s life to help him recover, and their relationship was renewed.

The film is a study in courage.

Maslany is a Canadian treasure. An actor since she was a schoolgirl, the Regina native has appeared in such films as Picture Day, Cas & Dylan, Woman In Gold, The Other Half and Two Lovers and a Bear; besides Orphan Black, Maslany has also appeared in such TV series as Heartland, Captain Canuck and Being Erica.

We spoke to the actress when she attended TIFF to support Stronger.

What sort of additional pressure is on you when you play a real person, such as Erin Hurley?

I met Erin, and had interaction with her, and discussed things with her and got her perspective, but with any part you have to approach it with a sense of ownership over the story. And ownership over who this character is to you. For me, it was about understanding her energy, strength and stamina, but also interpreting it my way, and sort of, putting the questions in my mind: 'What would I do? How would I cope? Would I be able to do this? What would my doubts be?'

Did you actually take up running to play Erin?

I started running as soon as I got the part … I got nowhere near to being able to run the distance Erin is able to run, but it was a great lesson in my body’s limits and what it takes to be able run a marathon. The mental and physical stamina of that informed me a lot about her, and who she is. She ran the marathon again when we were there filming, not on a whim, obviously, but she decided on a Friday to run it on a Monday, where most people decide a year before and train. There’s some strength in her, some spirit, that’s so powerful she was able to finish this enormous feat. She wasn’t even sweating at the end and she wasn’t sore the next day. There’s something unbelievable about that.

How do you prepare for such a hugely emotional role?

When you have scene partners like Miranda [Richardson] and Jake [Gyllenhaal], it’s not to say easy, but it’s a joyful exploration. It’s effortless in the sense that it’s all about listening and reacting, and just being there.

Did you take anything away from playing Erin?

I continued to run, and continued to use that as a meditative thing. It’s the only time I’ll let my head get semi-quiet, and it always reminds me of Erin. I think of her every time I run.

Something about that is always going to be connected to her.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

LBraun@postmedia.com