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article imageKevin Hanchard on Orphan Black's revealing Season 4 premiere Special

By A.R. Wilson     Apr 15, 2016 in Entertainment
Orphan Black's Kevin Hanchard tells Digital Journal about the show's revealing Season 4 premiere and Art's "complicated" love for Beth Childs.
Spoiler Alert: This article contain spoilers for Orphan Black
By his own admission, Toronto actor Kevin Hanchard likes his character arcs to be "as complicated as possible."
Which is why Thursday night's episode of the Space/BBC America hit Orphan Black, which kicked off the show's fourth season, was so exciting for him. A clever flashback installment, it takes a look at the final days of suicidal cop Beth Childs (one of several clones played by Tatiana Maslany in the series) and her emotionally blurry relationship with partner Art Bell, played by Hanchard.
"It's really complicated and complex, but that's what I love about it," he says.
While the episode, "The Collapse of Nature," presents intricate problems for Art, it signals a more focused, cohesive form of storytelling for the show. Series creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett veer away from the sprawling mythology they've established over the past three seasons and return to square one, when Beth walked in front of a train and grifter clone Sarah (Maslany) stole her identity. The briskly-paced prequel reveals that pill-popping Beth was investigating Neolution — the freaky body-modification cult shown to be pulling the strings at the end of Season 3 — and provides some tantalizing insight into her relationship with Art, most notably that the night before shooting unarmed Maggie Chen (a major plot point in Season 1), she left cold-fish monitor boyfriend Paul (Dylan Bruce) to find solace in Art's bed.
"They're police officers and they spend all their time together," Hanchard explains. "So that cop relationship, in and of itself, is already complex, so you add a layer of emotion and sexual intimacy and all that stuff and it becomes just a big, giant mess. And then after you go and consummate the relationship, your partner goes out and shoots somebody. It just becomes a giant mess, but it's a wonderful sort of mess to play with and unwrap. The writing was wonderful, and the ideas and images were big, and there's a lot of meat on the bone to chew on."
The revelation that Beth had feelings for Art — which comes on the heels of Art's Season 3 confession to Sarah that he was in love with Beth — may surprise some viewers, but Hanchard says he's long suspected Art had deep connections with his partner.
"Way back in Season 1, I think I had an idea in my head that this is the direction in which they were going," he says. "There had to be some sort of emotional investment because, if not, why wouldn't he just toss her off to the side when she got a drug problem? When she's messing up on her job before the shooting and even after the shooting, why would someone stick around unless there's something in her that he thought needed saving or was worthy of redemption?"
 Art is loyal to Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) as well and has an affection for her. You know  it s not qu...
"Art is loyal to Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) as well and has an affection for her. You know, it's not quite the same as Beth (Maslany), obviously, but it's in the script when he says, 'You're just like her. You don't give up.' - Kevin Hanchard
Courtesy of Bell Media
In the episode, viewers get the treat of seeing Maslany's long-form take on the real Beth after primarily seeing her play Sarah impersonating Beth. It's a subtle shift in dynamics that Hanchard enjoyed exploring with Maslany. "It's different with Sarah who was playing Beth, but that worked in the moment because there was something wrong with Beth, and all Art was trying to do was figure out what the hell was wrong with her," he explains. "But when Art is talking with the real Beth in the episode, he's talking with someone who's got problems, but that's Beth. So I'm not fighting the obstacles of 'What is wrong with you?' but it's 'How can I help you? Where are you at this moment? Can I reach you?' and all that kind of stuff. So it's really subtle differences, but I think that people watching can really see the layers and the nuance to Tatiana's performance as the real Beth and see how it differs from Sarah as Beth.
"That just goes for any of her characters. That's the beauty of what she does on the show, without turning this into a horn-tooting session for Tatiana, because she doesn't need that. People know how good she is. One of the beauties is that she doesn't just get to play a bunch of characters. When you add the extra layer of characters playing other characters, characters masquerading as other characters, it's an absolute beauty to behold in person. I think it really does come through in spades on screen as well."
According to Hanchard, Maslany's clone performances won't be the only buzzworthy acting turns on Orphan Black this season. "Art gets to be with a bunch of different characters that he hasn't been with on the show," he reveals. "We've got some really great actors who have come in this year and joined the crew that I think are really going to knock people's socks off and ultimately become household names, because their work is just spectacular and the stuff they've given them to do is just so challenging."
As for Hanchard, his acting chops have been all over TV screens in 2016, with appearances on The Expanse, Rogue, and The Girlfriend Experience, and he plans to return to his theater roots in July with a role in the Suzan-Lori Parks play Father Comes Home From the Wars at Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre. "[Acting] gives me the ability to play the best and the worst parts of myself and then to be able to be a good human being at the end of the day for my wife and kids," he says. "In today's society, we're forced to be so buttoned up and keep everything close to the vest and don't say too much and don't do too much and don't put yourself too far out there for fear of x, y, and z. My job is to put myself out there."
But Hanchard says he always enjoys returning to Orphan Black, a show that consistently gives him the complicated material he craves.
"It's nice to really sort of come home and have some really good juicy situations and some juicy scenes to work on with some great, talented people."
'Orphan Black' airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Space in Canada and BBC America in the U.S.
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