Will Tatiana Maslany's 'Stronger' Role Win Her The Oscar She Deserves?
For a second there, it looked like Tatiana Maslany would be traveling to a galaxy far, far away. The Orphan Black actress was reportedly a finalist for the female lead in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — a role which ultimately went to Felicity Jones (The Theory Of Everything). Then, Lucasfilm brought her back as a finalist for the female lead in Star Wars: Episode VIII — a role which is rumored to have now gone to Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond The Lights). But, it's not all bad news for us Clone Club members: Maslany is now in talks to join Stronger , a drama about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
While this is might be disappointing news to those who were hoping to see Maslany wield a lightsaber, it's great to see the TV star finally landing a sizable role in a high-profile feature film. It's not as though Maslany has never done movies before — she has quite an extensive resume, in fact — but her most sizable roles to date have been supporting parts in the 2004 horror sequel Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed and the 2012 romantic comedy The Vow. A meaty role in a biopic about a weighty subject may be just the thing Maslany needs to launch her into more mainstream success.
Stronger tells the story of Jeff Bauman, a man who was injured in the blast while cheering on his girlfriend, Erin, at the finish line. Both of Bauman's legs were amputated as a result of his injuries, but the 27-year-old managed to serve as a key witness in the FBI's investigation into the bombing. The film will be based on Bauman's 2014 autobiography of the same name, and Maslany is being considered for the role of Erin.
While this role might seem disappointing to those who wanted to see Maslany as a kickass jedi warrior, consider the fact that a role in a sci-fi film might perhaps not have been the best way for the actress to break out of her sci-fi TV niche. Although Maslany has been putting in hands down one of the best performances on television as 10 wildly different clones (and counting) on BBC America's Orphan Black, it took three whole years for the Emmy voters to even acknowledge that the show existed.
In fact, Maslany is so good on Orphan Black that it's easy to imagine her being typecast as sci-fi's go-to "it" girl for the rest of her career. Stronger might be the perfect move to help diversify her image and get the industry at large to start taking her more seriously — especially if it serves as a springboard for even more substantive roles in the future.
And it's not like playing the girlfriend/wife/etc. has a bad track record with up-and-coming actresses, either. Last year, Felicity Jones (who beat Maslany out for that Rogue One role) earned her first Oscar nomination for playing Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde in The Theory Of Everything . What many people assumed was going to be a film focused entirely on Eddie Redmayne's Hawking turned out to be just as focused (if not more so) on Jones's character, as she dealt with her husband's deteriorating condition. (The film was actually based on Wilde's own memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.)
Similarly, this year's The Danish Girl — a biopic of transgender woman Lili Elbe, coincidentally also played by Redmayne — focuses just as much on Elbe's wife Gerda Wegener as it does the titular character. Alicia Vikander, who plays Wegener, is a veritable lock for an Oscar nomination this year (although she is choosing to submit her performance in the Supporting category rather than Lead). While describing Maslany's character as just a "girlfriend" may sound unappealing, perhaps Stronger will follow in the footsteps of The Theory Of Everything and The Danish Girl and will be just as much about Erin's experience as it is about Jeff's struggle, giving Maslany as much of a chance to shine as Gyllenhaal.
Although it's definitely a bummer that Maslany missed out on not one but two chances to join the Star Wars universe, if she winds up with an Oscar nomination for Stronger, the disappointment will have been worth it. And besides, there's still Star Wars: Episode IX to look forward to!
Images: Focus Features