etalk Exclusive: Tatiana Maslany and Ben Lewis talk 'Apart From Everything,' wedding parties, and the Inside Out Film Festival

At first glance, it's easy to assume that Tatiana Maslany's most challenging role would be juggling all of her clone characters and plotlines on Orphan Black, for which she has been rewarded with an Emmy and four Canadian Screen Award acting trophies. But, if you ask her, the "most research [she's] ever done for a piece" was for a short film about an alcoholic in recovery, directed by one of her closest friends.

"When I read it, I was actually really scared of the role," said Maslany to etalk in an exclusive interview in Los Angeles in April. "Because of the nature of what she was going through, I didn't have a lot of experience, myself, with that. Alcohol and all that had never been a part of my life." 

In Apart From Everything, Maslany plays Fran, a woman looking to reconnect with both her fiancée Lana and her family after spending time in treatment for alcohol abuse. Partly inspired by J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey, this marks the first collaboration between Maslany and Ben Lewis with him as her director. The Regina-born star approached Lewis to direct and help adapt the short.

"I was trying to write a short about it, but what I did was transcribe the exact dialogue from the book and I was like, short finished!" said Maslany, with a laugh.

"I remember you wrote in it, 'This is my favourite book and I've always wanted to make a short out of it," and you were like, 'Get to work,' or something," said Lewis. "But, you were always in my mind. You were always Fran." Maslany and Lewis first met over a decade ago when they played boyfriend and girlfriend on the set of Stirs of Echoes: The Homecoming, a 2007 TV movie which also starred Rob Lowe.

"The chemistry was the hottest movie of the year, of the week," joked Maslany.

"But we've worked together in so many collaborative experiences, we've done so much," said the 31-year-old actress, making note of various plays and productions the two had worked on as a pair. "And Ben blew me away with the natural instinct he has for directing, which obviously comes from such an education about film and theatre and acting, and also, he's done all the work himself as an actor, and done through things and classes, and loves storytelling. He's like the best storyteller I know."

Apart From Everything has also received some love on the film festival circuit. It had its world premiere at London's BFI Flare Festival back in March, and it will bow before North American audiences for the first time at Toronto's Inside Out Festival on May 26th.

"It's a really great community and it really feels like my community in terms of film and the LGBTQ community so, I am really excited to screen it [at Inside Out]," said Lewis. 

"Ostensibly, the film used to be about a character who is reaching out and acting for forgiveness, but you're not always able to get that from people; you're not always able to get what you want. So ultimately, it's about how you live with that and learn to forgive yourself in order to move forward."

In fact, Lewis and Maslany had such a great collaborative experience on Apart From Everything, that months after the film finished production, they teamed up once again when she served as one of his bridesmaids in his wedding to fellow actor, Blake Lee.

"Yes, another wild collaborative experience," joked Maslany. "I was sobbing much more, like, than I've ever cried at that wedding."
 

Happy birthday @benlewishere Love, Grabby. ❤️😂❤️

A post shared by Lauren Collins (@laurenfcollins) on


"I always put you through the ringer in some way," said Lewis. "I don't know, I think I was a more chill groom than I was a director."

"No, you're a very chill director," said Maslany, before adding, amidst a laugh, "less chill groom." 

Kidding aside, Lauren Collins, who served as a producer on Apart From Everything, was a part of the wedding party too, as was Aubrey Plaza. 
 
 

The Clan #BlakeandBen #TBT 📷 by: @anniemcelwain

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Collins and Lewis previously worked together on their 2014 short film Zero Recognition, which Lewis also directed. The film later won the William F. White Award for Best Comedy, and to Lewis, carrying on this creative partnership made perfect sense. The two are currently developing their first feature as a team.

"I was really lucky on [Apart From Everything] to really get to make it with my three best friends," said Lewis. "With [Tatiana], Lauren, and my friend Mercedes producing it, I felt incredibly safe and protected. I trust all three of them implicitly, and that's kind of the dream."

Maslany agrees, and added, "I think we will always work together."

Following the premiere of Apart From Everything later this month, Maslany has a pretty busy calendar. The final season of Orphan Black will premiere on Space on Sat. June 10, and her Boston marathon movie Stronger, which she stars in opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, will hit theatres on Sept. 22.

"That's what I am doing, then sleeping forever," said Maslany, with a smile.
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