'Orphan Black' Interview: Ari Millen Says Ira's 'As Close to Being His Own Person' As He Ever Has Been
'Orphan Black' Interview: Ari Millen Says Ira's 'As Close to Being His Own Person' As He Ever Has Been
Meredith Jacobs
Meredith Jacobs
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
In the beginning on Orphan Black, there were just the Leda clones, but during the course of the series, we met the Castors, played by Ari Millen, and Ira's the one who has been by Susan's side since we first met him. But he's started changing and becoming his own person, especially this season.  

Read on for BuddyTV's chat with Millen as he discusses that devastating moment for Ira from "Manacled Slim Wrists," the Castor's reunion with Coady and more, and teases the rest of the season.


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BuddyTV: We saw how close Ira and Susan were, so when he finds her, is that one of the most devastating moments of his life? How much of him sitting down is because of her and how much of it is him knowing he can't make it to the boat?   

Ari Millen: "I think it's probably 50/50. Since we've known him since season 4, Ira's kind of just been -- and I don't want to reduce him to anything -- but he's been like a tool for Susan, who's locked herself up in secrecy to do the science, so he's become an external outlet for her in a way. He has sort of only known that and I think at the end of season 4 and now the beginning of season 5, he is starting to realize his mortality and to a certain extent having his own -- independent thoughts might be the wrong way to put it -- but thinking outside of his world for the first time.

"So as we come to that scene, all this season, he's been struggling with everything with his mortality, with allegiances, with what he holds most dear, and I think in that moment, I think yes, he does see the writing is on the wall. Certainly he has gone there to get her to take her to the boat and get off the island, but once he sees what's happened, there's a quiet devastation. That's been his life since a very, very young age, so I think certainly, yes, it is the most devastating thing for him, and also, I think he sees the writing is on the wall and probably that's where he belongs and wants to be. In the end, he realizes what he wants."

Since Ira didn't grow up with the rest of Castor, is his experience with glitching different and is that why he's, like you said, now thinking about his own mortality?

"Well, I mean, I think he's always known, he's been self-aware -- well, actually they were all self-aware, weren't they? He lived outside of the bubble that was the Castor project and sort of had a different perspective on it, but I think his knowledge of their glitch, their sickness, that's as new to him as it is to the rest of Castor. I don't think they knew it was going to come. I don't think they could have predicted it.

"I guess to a certain extent, he's kind of naive to it because he wasn't around his brothers. He wasn't seeing them drop off like flies. So maybe he did have some hope that he was different, just in the way that he was brought up differently from them, he was different from them, maybe he thought he was different and it wouldn't affect him. But certainly being so close to Susan's science and having access to what they've been finding out, he certainly knows what his fate will be, so once he does start glitching, it really does sort of accelerate his fear and his own sort of self-awareness.

"I think it's an awakening in him to have individuality whereas he has just sort of been what he was ... I probably struggled with defining what he was, but I think this season, he is starting to -- he never really gets there, but he is certainly as close to being his own person now, knowing his mortality, than he ever has [been] in the past."

We see Ira reunited with Coady, and while he hasn't had the same relationship with her that the other Castors did, she did create Castor. How conflicted are his feelings when it comes to seeing her again?

"He does remember her. I think he was with her until he was 4, so there are certain memories that he has. He remembers his brothers. I think there's a morbid fascination with her, knowing who she was before his current life. I think that's all part of the new self-discovery. It all ties in. She has answers to who he is, is there a cure, who am I, who was I meant to be? If anything, Coady had a bigger hand in shaping who they were going to be, and he never was that.

"She's his long-lost mother in many respects. In fact, I think that was my favorite scene to shoot all season, was that interaction with [her]. I got to interact with Coady in many different incarnations, but certainly this season, getting to have a brand-new relationship with her was certainly my favorite thing that we did. I would say it all feeds into his awakening."

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Even though Ira was taken from his brothers when he was 4 and last season he made it a point to say he's nothing like them, he still asked Coady if any of them are left. What's going through his head at that moment? What is that relationship with the rest of the Castors like for him?

"I think that boils right down to, 'Am I going to survive?' He is nothing like the rest of them, but I think in that moment, he wants to know, 'Have you been able to cure this? Yes, some of them are sick, yes some of them have died, as far as he knows, but are there any left? Were you able to save them?' I think that's more or less what that question is. It's purely a survival question. Where does he stand?"

So it's more about survival than getting to see any of them?

"Yeah. I'm sure that would be something he would want, but I don't think in that moment that's what he's asking. I think that has everything to do with, 'Am I going to beat this?'"

One of my favorite images from this episode is Cosima and Ira standing together in the basement, with Leda and Castor now on the same side, but the cell between them reminding us that the two sides were divided before. But without a common enemy to bring them together, would Castor always be on the outside looking in on the family the Ledas have built?

"I think for most of them, I guess everyone we know about more or less is dead. A lot of them, there is no redemption. But I'm looking at it from my point of view, and it comes back to the nature versus nurture themes that run through the show. Castor was nurtured into that life. They didn't come to it through natural ways. They weren't set out into the world and nature turned them into that. Coady and the military certainly nurtured the personality traits, the male aggression, the sort of disgusting things that they were set out to do, so in that sense, no, they don't fit into the family. There's no redeeming those acts that they did.

"But for Ira, that wasn't Ira. Ira didn't do that. They're split from the same DNA, so he is as much their family as anybody else is and certainly, I don't think he's done anything that would be unforgivable. So I would see Ira could and would be accepted into that family, but obviously I'm not Mrs. S, I'm not Leda, I'm not Felix, I'm not all those guys, so that would be their decision. But from the outside looking in, I would say because he wasn't part of Project Castor proper, I feel he could fit into the family. It would be an adjustment period for everybody. But just like over the past five seasons, you've just seen everyone adjusting to their reality and [go] through their discovery of who they are, so that's just one more piece of the puzzle."

Let's talk Ira and Rachel. They've never seemed like equals, or at least she has never acted like they are. If she hadn't tried to kill Susan, would he have ever been able to oppose her?

"I don't think -- as basic as it might seem, I think Ira's point of view for the most part, his feelings are more or less guided by what Susan feels. And yes, he expresses his opinion here and there, but he always will defer to her.

"So I think only if he feels that his status quo, his world, is under threat in any way or shape or form of changing negatively, then maybe he might put up opposition. But other than that, I think if the scenario was Susan accepted Rachel and they were back to mother/daughter, it would be an adjustment period, but that would be life, and I don't think, no, he wouldn't oppose that. There might be jealousy, but he would learn to adjust."

With the series coming to an end, are we going to find out what happened to Mark and possibly meet any new Castors?

"Well, I don't know about that. It's a clone show. It's always possible. I certainly have been missing Mark and it was always something that I hoped I would get closure on, so I guess we'll wait and see."

Any final teases for the rest of the season? Any particular episode you're most excited for fans to see?

"There's some real big things coming... There's some real doozies coming. [Laughs] And the show isn't holding back. The show is going to make you feel something and there [are] one or two things that are coming that are really going to get you."

Orphan Black season 5 airs Saturdays at 10/9c on BBC America. Want more news? Like our Orphan Black Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of BBC America)