Entertainment: Tatiana Gabriele Maslany, “RRR was my favourite film of the year”

After sitting through Hulk (2013) with Eric Bana, and The Incredible Hulk (2008) with Edward Norton, when I saw Mark Ruffalo as Hulk in the Avengers, I was convinced that no one could be a better Hulk than Mark. He’s grumpy, gorgeous, and depicts the two sides of his identity fairly well. And then, Canadian actor Tatiana Gabriele Maslany made her debut as She-Hulk in the Disney+ Hotstar series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and changed my mind.   

Marvel debut  

The 37-year-old who made her debut in the 2002 Canadian television series 2030 CE and rose to fame with multiple roles in Orphan Black (2013-2017), for which she also won an Emmy, was an instant hit with Marvel fans. Probably because she went about it the way any true Marvel fan would: by reading all the She-Hulk comics. “I even read all the comics where she has guest appearances, after I got the role. I got a sense of her voice over all these years, and got to see how different artistes had interpreted her look and her comedy. I took a lot of that to set with me,” Tatiana says in an exclusive interview with HT Brunch.  

Was it easy to switch from playing multiple roles in a sci-fi thriller to diving deep into the Marvel universe? “There is some kind of thematic connection between them for me. Orphan Black was this exploration of all the infinite possibilities that one person can be. She-Hulk is like these two sides to somebody and how you integrate both sides and find wholeness. It’s kind of like an internalised version of Orphan Black,” Tatiana explains.  

Tatiana as She-Hulk (above) the series where she plays Mark Ruffalo’s cousin, Jennifer Walters
Tatiana as She-Hulk (above) the series where she plays Mark Ruffalo’s cousin, Jennifer Walters

Tatiana, the RRR fan 

Though she admits to being really new to the world of India cinema, art and culture, Tatiana already has a favourite: RRR, which she watched twice in theatres!  “RRR was my favourite film of the year. I had no idea about it going in, and had never seen a film like that before. It was just so playful as well as emotional, and gripping. Those actors are good at acting, comedy, drama, dancing. They are just ridiculous. I am so blown away by that film and I think everybody should go see it,” she gushes, as she admits that rather than the song and dance, and the flashiness bothering her, she loved it, along with the enormity of it.  

“As a Canadian or an American, there is such a rigidity around masculinity. It would be very rare to see a man not only holding a tiger back using just his muscles and ropes, but also dancing! And not to forget the deep friendships he has! There was something so beautifully revelatory and special about the film,” she says. 

The connection 

Though movies like RRR have these big spectacles, ultimately what connects viewers to the film is the characters and the story-telling, she opines. “I connected to the characters and their stories. There is something special about the structure of stories coming out of India. This is something I am curious to explore further,” she nods.  

She’s already chatting about this with Jameela Jamil, her She-Hulk co-actor who has Indian roots. “Jameela told me a lot of funny stories and sometimes did an impression of her parents when we got together for meals at Jessica Gal—the writer’s—house,” says Tatiana.  

Tatiana playing Jennifer Walters, an attorney specialising in legal cases for superheroes
Tatiana playing Jennifer Walters, an attorney specialising in legal cases for superheroes

The casting of diverse actors and representation of more cultures is another reason Tatiana was excited about working in She-Hulk. “I am excited by the fact that we are starting to get stories from diverse voices. The Marvel universe is so big and seen all over the world. It makes absolute sense that all cultures should be represented and explored, and should have their heroes, because America is often the only country that is speaking on a really global scale. Hopefully we can centre those voices behind the camera as well, so that they are supported in a really integral way,” she smiles, as she reveals her favourite Avenger is, no surprise, the Hulk. Family first, eh?  

Anxiety and IG  

Tatiana is also one of the few actors to have a private profile on Instagram. Does she miss getting feedback from fans first-hand? “I remember being on IG when I had a show coming out and being more connected to what was being said about it. But having my account private has removed a lot of anxiety, as well as the habit of always checking it. Now, I have more space in my brain and I am able to read books because otherwise my brain is always so distracted by my phone. I feel like it’s the best move for me, though maybe not for everybody,” she shrugs.  

Any plans to meet her fans in India? “India is one place I’ve always wanted to visit. My mom was a flight attendant who travelled all over the world, including India, and cited it as one of the most special places she visited. So, some day,” Tatiana promises. 

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From HT Brunch, January 14, 2023

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