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Q&A: Ari Millen on Ira’s Psyche

Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with an Orphan Black crew member. This week, it’s Ari Millen aka Project Castor.

1. Denell D via Facebook: How did you feel about Ira being romantically involved with the woman who was essentially his adoptive mother since age 4? How did knowledge of this troubling backstory affect how you played Ira?
Ari Millen: Denell, thanks for the question. Ira, just like his brothers, was a product of his upbringing. So, obviously from the outside, his relationship with Susan is troubling. But I never painted him with that judgment. He and Susan were very isolated. She’d abandoned her former life to devote herself to the science. She acquired Ira, in part because he was integral to that, but also, I’d imagine (you’d have to ask Rosemary her thoughts), to fulfill he very human needs of companionship in all its different forms.


I chose not to focus on it because it was all he knew; it was how he was raised and nurtured. So I guess if anything it helped me develop an innocence and naiveté about him.

2. Charley K. via Facebook: do you think Ira would get along with any other Castor clones? (imagining all of the castor boys are alive of course)
AM: Thanks, Charley. I don’t think Ira would be given an easy ride by his brothers. But I also am positive that he wouldn’t be shunned. At the core of each of them is their connection. They know how important each and every one is to each other and the uniqueness of their situation.

3. Nichole F. via Facebook: Do you think Ira and Mark’s roles were designed to juxtapose the patriarchy seen on the show since both Mark and Ira end up fighting against Neolution in there own ways?
AM: Wow, I feel like I’m not qualified to answer this! Ha! For me, Mark and Ira were simply fighting for what they wanted. Both Castor and Leda were victims of the experiment. I never felt they were rebelling against Neolution, so much as they were just trying to follow their free will. Ira would be more of a special case. What was very special about working with John and Graeme is that I never felt overly imposed on in my character development. We’d sit down and talk about each of them. They’d tell me what they were thinking, I’d ask questions, and then I’d wait for the scripts and go from there. Equally important to the process was the visual design of the show’s key makeup artist, Stephen Lynch. He is responsible for me seeing the character in the mirror. From there, I could let my imagination extrapolate about who they all were. Ira was arguably a juxtaposition from the hyper masculine tendencies of his brothers, but we found that organically as opposed to it being who he was always meant to be. At least that’s how I remember it!

4. Julia C. via Facebook: Does Ira have this name as an anagram of yours? (I really needed to ask)
AM: The way I heard it was they just started calling him that in the writers’ room and it stuck. It did however, in one way or another, give me permission to do the opposite of what I normally do on the show.


5. Roll D. via Facebook: Did you have a double like Kathryn Alexandre when playing a scene with more than one castor clone?
AM: Thanks, Roll. Yes — we did have a clone double for Castor. His name is Nick Abraham, and I couldn’t have done it without him.

6 @evelynesgrace via Twitter: Aria, what is your perspective on how Ira has changed throughout the seasons? does Ira really want to help the Sestras out?
AM: From Season 4 to 5, Ira has become of aware of his mortality. He once was happy with his seat next to Susan, but now his world has been turned upside down. Leda may have only been science to him before, but now that he has learned his fate, he is very much wrapped up in their destiny. He most definitely wants to help them so he can also help himself.

7. @donaldchubbs via Twitter: What was your favorite moment to shoot? And do you have some funny behind the scenes stories you’d like to share?
AM: My favorite scene of season 5 was when Ira met Coady. It really revealed a lot about him to me that I’d never had to think about before. But also I looooove working with Kyra.


I don’t think I’ve ever made a blooper reel. I really need to lighten up on set! Ha!

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