If the acting biz was a sports team, Kevin Hanchard would be a shoe-in for Most Valuable player. In between playing Detective Art Bell on Orphan Black, for which he recently received an ACTRA Award nomination,Hanchard has been popping up on shows like The Expanse, Hemlock Grove, The Girlfriend Experience (Starz), Rogue (DirectTV) and even a movie or two (namely this year’s Suicide Squad). The busy Canadian actor spoke to us about what its like being a regular on Orphan Black and sinking his teeth into other exciting roles along the way.
The TV Junkies: I was just reflecting on your role as Detective Art Bell on Orphan Black and how it has changed and evolved. I was terrified of him at the beginning because he had the power to blow Sarah’s cover, and now fast forward three seasons and he’s becoming part of the family!
Kevin Hanchard: Yeah, it’s great how that has evolved. The crazy thing about the show is that we don’t know what’s happening next. When we sat down with these roles during the first read through, we had no idea what the arc was going to be and who know what and who’s hiding what, so you just kind of leave yourself open and available to as many possibilities as you can, because, as you’ve seen, the story can go in a myriad of different directions.
TTVJ: It would have been so easy to set the character of Art against Sarah and the other clones, but they’ve made him more complicated than that. What has it been like peeling back the layers of that character?
KH: When I was trained as an actor, you have a play in your hand and you know what’s going to happen on page one, and then you read what happens on page 120. You have a whole map and a blueprint right there. But with [OB] I’ve been as much of a fan of the show and the character as anybody else has learning what happens next and learning what makes him tick and trying to massage things to make the new twists that the writers have come up with work, given the foundation and the bricks that we’ve laid down before. I’ve done a lot of TV work, but I’ve done a lot of guest starring roles, maybe four or five or seven episodes on a series and then the guy gets blown up or something like that. But to do something for four seasons, it’s been great because you know the character. He’s like putting on a pair of shoes. But at the same time there’s always something new and interesting around the corner that you just don’t know how he’ll react to.
TTVJ: Speaking of how Art will react, he has this connection with Sarah and with Beth, but at the same time he does represent the law. How far do you think he’s willing to go for these girls?
KH: I don’t know, I think we’ll find out! [Laughs] It’s a fine line he’s got to tread, right, because at the end of the day he is a cop, he has a sworn duty to uphold the law. But then there’s this bond between partners… it’s a human bond and a genuine connection that he had with Beth, who is no longer with us, and he doesn’t know why. He knows she was troubled, that she had a bunch of demons or what not, but he doesn’t know the reason why someone who had problems but was seemingly a strong person killed themselves. He owes it to her to find out what went wrong and there’s a gnawing sense of guilt that he wasn’t able to help her through it. The tough love he exhibited wasn’t enough, or sort of backfired, maybe, in his own mind, and led to her demise. So the lines are blurred [for Art]. He’s in Clone Club and he’s invested come hell or high water.
TTVJ: If I were to make a prediction about OB Season 4, I think that he and Sarah are going to clash. I mean they have clashed already and her methods are definitely more unorthodox than his. Are we going to see more of that in Season 4?
KH: There’s a lot of clashing in Season 4, let’s just put it that way, whether it’s between Sarah and Art, or Sarah and everybody else. I mean, Sarah is a wild card and she has, I think, more invested than anybody else in this whole situation. It’s her blood that’s involved here and she’s going to do things the way she wants to do things. There’s a lot of conflicts this year and I think that’s what’s really exciting about this show, is that it’s not just a bunch of pretty people and pretty people angst [laughs], it’s not a show about that! Although it’s sci-fi and it’s a little fantastical, it’s still rooted in something that’s pretty damn real. And that’s me really dancing around your question and saying I can’t fully answer it [laughs], but if you want conflict and some controversy and some blood and guts… you’re going to get it this season for sure.
TTVJ: Up to this point, from what I can remember, you’ve been mainly playing opposite Sarah’s character for the most part. Now that you’re in Clone Club for real you’re going to be interacting with other clones. What’s it like playing with Tatiana Maslany when she’s inhabiting all of those roles?
KH: It’s great! Like honestly, what can I say really? I could be on set with Tatiana and work opposite two or three people a day, and the characters are so clearly delineated and defined, and the cadences, the walks, everything about them is just so distinct, that you just forget. It’s remarkable how detailed and how nuanced all these girls are to her. I talk about Art being like an old comfy pair of shoes or an old baseball glove–that’s what she’s done with the 400 clones that she’s created. So it’s an absolute pleasure… she’s done an amazing job.
TTVJ: Did filming the big dinner scene last season prepare you for the craziness of trying to film with all of the clones at once?
KH: Oh, it was crazy! That was two full days, like two full 14 plus hour days–16 hours I think on one occasion–of putting that together, and that’s definitely prepped me for anything [laughs]. There’s nothing they can throw at me–and I’ve done those techno-dolly clone scenes before, and those are grueling, but that one was just on a whole different level.
TTVJ: So I’m going to circle back to the same question; can you give us any hints about Season 4?
KH: I can give you one hint.
KH: It will premiere some time in April of this year [laughs] and you can set your DVRs or PVRs, depending on what side of the border you’re on, and wait with bated breath. It’s going to be exciting.
TTVJ: Thanks a lot Kevin!
KH: But really, honestly, we had an opportunity–the cast and crew–to see episode one the other day, and it’s just dynamite. The only clue I can say is that there’s a lot of questions that are answered early in the season, some stuff that has just sort of been lingering. We start to figure out why things are the way they are and that leads us deeper and deeper into the story.
TTVJ: I have to ask you too, I saw you pop up on another favourite of mine, The Expanse…
KH: I know! Wasn’t I amazing?
TTVJ: You were the one who gave Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) his hat! That was an amazing detail, I loved that!
KH: I had a great time on that show last year. And the funny thing is I was shooting that while I was shooting OB, I was bouncing back and forth. We were on the same sound stage, so I would just sort of run across the lot and go from a Toronto sort of area to a [space station]. Like I’d had to look down at my costume to figure out who I was playing and go for it! But it was a lot of fun. Those guys are working on something really big, like the scope of it was really really huge. I’ve never been a really huge sci-fi, StarTrek, Battlestar Galactica kind of guy myself, but the more I do these shows, the more I’m starting to go, alright! It’s not so far fetched, it’s not out of the realm of my understanding. There’s something to it. It’s starting to pull me in, it’s starting to make a believer out of me.
TTVJ: Well, I definitely see Canadians playing a big role in a lot of the new sci-fi shows coming out now. A lot of these shows are filmed in either Vancouver or Toronto and Canada has its stamp all over the genre. It’s kind of becoming our thing!
KH: Oh yeah, we are kind of the home of sci-fi, especially Vancouver. But we’re doing a bunch of stuff [in Toronto] and even out on the East Coast as well. There’s a whole lot of sci-fi shows being shot up here. And I say good for them, keep it coming. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.
TTVJ: Can you say anything about your new projects that are coming up, like The Girlfriend Experienceand I know you appeared on the third season of Rogue?
KH: Yeah, I mean you look around and I’m in a little bit of everything. Sometimes I stick around, sometimes I’m only there for a minute and a half. The Girlfriend Experience, I had some wonderful scenes on that show. I haven’t seen the final product myself, but just the way in which it was shot, I think the look of it is going to be absolutely spectacular. I really enjoyed hanging out with those guys for a while.
Rogue is another show that was great for me, and that one I got to be in the entire third season, so that was fun to do that for a year. I play a cop, a DEA special agent in charge. [Nate Lowry] is very different from the cop I play on OB in that he’s got a different engine driving him. He’s looking for bad guys, period, just looking for bad guys and who’s doing what wrong, and at the same time trying to manage his cops that work under his charge. He’s a wonderfully complex and sometimes humorous character. What can I say? I’m Canadian actor and I’m working and you know, I’m blessed to be doing that.
TTVJ: I have to ask, as a person of colour myself, I love to see other people of colour onscreen and I’m really paying attention to the kinds of roles that they portray, and I’m wondering if that is a factor at all for you when you become involved with these projects?
KH: That’s always a funny thing because it’s so hard for–well, it’s hard to be an actor in this country, let’s start with that, and when you’re a young actor in this country, you’re just trying to get a foothold any which way you can. So there’s stuff I did as a 22 and 23 year old actor that I wouldn’t do now. You gain the ability to become a little bit more discerning and a little bit more aware of the image that you’re putting out. I was a parent about a minute into my career, I was a young dad, and I always said, I want to do work that my kids will be proud of when I get older… and that’s what I’ve tried to do.
As you get older you become a little bit more refined, a little bit more picky in your choices of roles and things come across your plate and your agent says ‘What do you think?’ and you go ‘I’d rather leave that one alone, thanks.’ There comes a point in time when you do have to be aware of what you’re putting out there because, unlike theatre, film and TV lives forever. It’s an ongoing struggle… but I try my best to do stuff that’s empowering to the race, that’s empowering to people, that’s not degrading to women, and I try not to do stuff where people are hurting animals, because I’m a big animal lover as well. So it’s a lot to think about and if the producers aren’t thinking about it, it’s hard to make them think about it, but every journey starts with a single step.
Are you excited for the return of Orphan Black? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below!
Orphan Black returns for Season 4 on Thursday, April 14 at 10 p.m. ET to BBC America and Space Channel.
Hermione Wilson is a Junkie when it comes to all things Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and Supernatural, the show that introduced her to classic rock. She is a graduate of Humber College's journalism program, a current staff writer at Dovetail Communications, and an avid reader of sci-fi novels.