9:30 am EDT, April 10, 2015

Ari Millen is the best thing to happen to ‘Orphan Black’ since Tatiana Maslany

New faces, new clones, all badass.

We’re already familiar with clones on Orphan Black but the newest clones, portrayed by actor Ari Millen, change the game completely. And it’s partly because of his amazing performance.

Orphan Black season 3 premieres in less than ten days now and we’re getting more and more news about what we can expect this season. Having already seen the first two episodes we’re here to tell you that you can expect nothing less than greatness from Ari Millen — and trust us, we’re not just saying that.

Millen has it tough. Not only is he expected to portray several characters but he also has to follow in Tatiana Maslany’s footsteps, whose performances as female clones have shattered all expectations for the new BBC America drama when it premiered in 2013. Maslany has constantly been praised for her performances for two years now, gathering a huge following that has been campaigning for Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and wins. Well, folks, it’s time to move over for Ari Millen.

Set to play four confirmed clones this season, Millen faces the same exact challenges that Maslany faced only two years ago. He is coming into a world where we’re all curious about how he will do. Will he be able to play these characters, will we believe him when he does? How will he measure up against his co-star? He answers all of our questions in the first episode of the season, and by the second we’re convinced that show creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson have some sort of magical ability to pick the best actors of their generation.

The wonderful thing about Millen’s performance in the first two episodes is that he shows us exactly who these characters are (on the surface, of course): Clones raised self-aware and side-by-side who are all one-in-the-same but also, somehow, distinctly different. They are not as varied in personality as the clones portrayed by Maslany which makes Millen’s job that much harder. He has to make sure that these clones are not only distinct and identifiable, but also similar and almost interchangeable — they were raised by the military, after all!

Ari Millen Rudy

Because Millen’s clones were raised to be similar it makes it that much harder for him to adequately change them without taking away their group military identity. Millen spoke about the challenge, stating “the biggest challenge, for me, was finding the differences within the similarities. Finding the little nuance thing that makes Rudy, Rudy, that makes Mark, Mark and that makes Seth, Seth. On a multiple clone day where I was playing more than one it was just making that switch. Because they’re so similar trying to drop one and pick up the other depending on how much sleep I got might’ve been more challenging.”

These clones are nothing like Maslany’s. While she’s able to adopt completely different personalities for her clones Millen doesn’t have that comfort — he has to play men who have mostly the same personality, but of course because they are each their own person he has to nail what about them makes them who they are. And it’s a task that Millen not only succeeds in but completely crushes.

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There is not a single second in the next two episodes that we doubt who he’s playing or whether he’s up to the task — Millen was made for these roles. The time and dedication that the actor has taken to do these characters justice has paid off in a big way, and we’re excited for the rest of the world to see him shine.

People have been praising Orphan Black because it’s game-changing and exhilarating to watch, and those are the exact same reasons we’re praising Ari Millen. After two seasons of the show we got comfortable with clone portrayals, and you think we’d be numbed by it at this point but Millen has completely rejuvenated the show. We aren’t going to say he’s the next Tatiana Maslany because that’s not what he is — he is the one and only Ari Millen, and by the end of the season he will be a household name.

Do yourself a favor and catch Millen’s clone debut live, because it’s something you don’t want to miss. And in case you need more Project Castor in your life, check out the trailer dedicated to them:

‘Orphan Black’ returns April 18 at 9:00 p.m. ET

You can find the premiere airing across all AMC channels next Saturday, including AMC, SundanceTV, IFC, We TV, and of course BBC America.

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