Josh Vokey’s character Scott, Cosima’s lab monkey turned close friend, really came into his own during the second season and has become quite a fan favorite. We were excited to get to talk to Josh about Scott’s relationship with Cosima and Scott’s endearing awkwardness. Follow Josh on Twitter @joshvokey. (He gives great answers to fan questions.)
- this is more detailed than a summary, but less detailed than a transcript.
- If we have any new listeners/readers, S = Stephanie, and K = Kris (just so you know)
- If you read/listen to nothing else, check out the second to last question (about 25 minutes in) – there’s a really lovely, heartfelt message to/about Clone Club.
TIE: How did you get involved in Orphan Black? What was your audition process like?
JV: My audition process was actually really brief, and not really typical. I auditioned to play Scott Smith in the first season. I went in for episode 5, and my audition was probably about 45 seconds long. I did the first Scott scene. That was my entire audition, and I did it one take. It was for the casting director and TJ Scott, who is one of the most frequent directors of Orphan Black. TJ Scott said, “That was great, man. I like it. You made it your own.” And that was it – I was on the show. I had one day on set, and then two, then three, and joined the cast in season two.
TIE: Did you know when you got the part that Scott would be a recurring character?
JV: No. It was kind of an open-ended thing. They said they weren’t quite sure. The only two people who know what’s happening are John and Graeme. The rest of us know in due time, which is actually liberating because we can’t give spoilers because we don’t know anything.
TIE: Were you excited that Scott got a last name, finally?
JV: Yeah! “Scott Smith” was written on the papers I had in my hand in episode 6 of season 2, when I got to Dyad.
K: So you DID have a secret to keep, briefly!
JV: Yeah! A teeny, tiny secret.
TIE: We’ve heard about Tatiana’s Cosima dance that she uses to get into character, so I have to ask – is there a Scott dance?
JV: Scott’s physicality is very different than me. He puts his nervous energy into movement, so he’s never quite sitting still. When I’m on set, I’ll fiddle around as Scott. So, yeah, it’s kind of a dance. It’s more like an awkward geek shuffle, though.
K: The Scott Shuffle. We should name it.
JV: Yeah. It’s kind of like the Scott Shuffle.
TIE: We don’t know much about Scott’s background yet. What do you imagine his background to be like?
JV: Most of what I need is from the script. I don’t really know that much about Scott. All I know is that he does come from the University of Minnesota, but that means he could come from anywhere. They picked the University of Minnesota for the show because it has one of the top genetic programs in the world, and is where the real Cosima studies. But I don’t know a whole lot about Scott’s background. We work it out as we go. The character started out as one thing but has kind of grown and evolved into something new. It’s fun because we’re creating him as we go.
S: I think Scott could be from the midwest, but maybe not Minnesota.
JV: I’m hesitant to nail down exactly where he’s from, but if Scott was from Wisconsin, I would nod and say, “yes, he’s absolutely from Wisconsin.”
TIE: In the first season, Scott is basically a lab monkey. He runs tests for Cosima because he clearly has a crush on her. Do you think Scott and Cosima were friendly before she asked for his help or do you think Cosima was exploiting the fact that Scott fancied her?
JV: I think they were friends before, but he absolutely did work for her because he had a crush on her. I think Cosima was probably the only real friend he had.
TIE: How do you interpret Scott’s reaction to Cosima’s comments “You get to have sex – with yourself” and “He’s a virgin, in case you couldn’t tell”?
JV: It’s that she’s joking around with him, and he takes it in stride because that’s the kind of guy he is, but it does sting a little bit. Scott thinks he’s being pretty cool – a suave operator – so when people call him on that, he tries to laugh it off, but underneath he knows the truth, that he’s not quite as cool as he wants to be.
K: I think Scott’s cool. (Stephanie laughs.)
JV: Oh, thank you very much.
TIE: When Scott meets Delphine, she gives Cosima a kiss, and he has a pretty surprised and flustered reaction. Do you think Scott had any idea that Cosima was attracted to women?
JV: It was completely new information for him, as far as I can tell. That was something he wouldn’t know. Scott doesn’t quite understand social cues very well. I’m sure it was very obvious that Cosima liked women throughout their friendship, he just missed all the cues and saw what he wanted to see [chuckles].
TIE: In that same scene, the LOOK that Cosima gives Scott – was it as intimidating in real life as it was on screen?
JV: Uh, yeah. It was a bit of a shutdown. I guess it felt at the time like a “could you please embarrass me less?/would you just go away.” It always, to me, felt like that look: “I can’t take you anywhere.” [All laugh] That was a fun day. I think we shot that at 8 o’clock in the morning in a hospital.
TIE: Is that where most of the Minnesota scenes were shot? In a hospital?
JV: Yeah, well, we moved around locations a lot in the first season. We shot at a couple different lab-y, science-y, hospital-y locations around the city of Toronto. Once we got to Dyad in season 2, we built our own lab set in the studio.
TIE: When season 2 started, did you know your role would expand the way it did?
JV: No, I didn’t. I got an inkling from my agent, who called me and told me I wasn’t to leave the city for the six months that the show was filming. Which was kind of their hint that I might be around more. I heard from John Fawcett, whom I hadn’t met until the second season, that they had some plans for Scott later in the season.
TIE: I think an important turning point for Scott was when he blurted out to Cosima and Delphine that he knew about the clones. He really seemed to assert himself and say, “You can’t keep me in the dark and use me anymore,” but at the same time it’s a comedic scene. How do you find balance in a scene like that?
JV: I think with that character, a lot of the comedy comes from his awkward physicality, and so the scene was absolutely serious until that last moment when it just falls apart because he does the one thing he shouldn’t do – he tries to be tough.
You play it like a serious scene because it IS a serious scene, and when you’re a character like Scott Smith, and you try to really try punch that point across at the end, it’s going to look ridiculous because he’s not that. He’s not a super tough guy. Evelyne, Tat, and I had a couple laughs when we shot that one.
TIE: How excited were you when you found out you’d be coming to Dyad and doing a lot more scenes with the two of them?
JV: Really good. That was an informal conversation I had with John and Graeme about how they thought it would be cool. It was a really cool experience getting to go into the Dyad and getting to walk around the Dyad, because it was a real building that we built.
TIE: When you were filming the Skype call with Cosima and Delphine, how did filming that work?
JV: When we’re shooting that, the camera is on us, so we’re talking to a blank screen while two cameras film us – one mounted on the computer (as the webcam) and then the camera we use to film the show. Either the first A.D. or the script supervisor, Melanie Orr, reads the lines with us. Filming that scene in episode 2×05, the director, Helen Shaver, got involved and would throw in little comments to me. I think that was my favorite time being in front of the web camera.
TIE: At least a couple of fans were thinking that Cosima’s comment about Scott being “so cute” (after she hung up the Skype call with him) suggested that Scott might cause some ripples in Cosima and Delphine’s relationship at some point in the second season. Do you think there’s any romantic potential to Scott and Cosima’s relationship? Or are they just buddies now?
JV: You know, I don’t know. I can’t say anything for sure with Orphan Black because as soon as I say one thing, I’m going to look silly, because it’s going to be the opposite. But I think that there’s a very loving, yet platonic, bond between the two of them that has kind of evolved over the course of the season. I like to think that the relationship is pretty pure in the sense that it’s just two people who are good friends who love each other.
K: Which I love, because there’s not enough of that on TV.
JV: Exactly. And we were really excited about that.
S: Yeah. Friendship is important.
TIE: Do you share any of Scott’s interest in science?
JV: Yeah, I do. I spent half a year in high school studying cloning, funnily enough. I wrote and gave a presentation on the implications of cloning and stem cell research, because I was really interested in it. Particularly the moral implications of it, which is what we do on the show every week.
From (friend of the podcast) Sally: Scott’s scientific curiosity and drive to find out the truth is tempered by his friendship with and respect for Cosima. Even when finding out that she is the subject, 324B21, he still views her as a person. How has playing Scott shaped your opinion about the ethics of scientific research?
JV: I think we need to have sit-downs about the moral implications of everything that we’re doing and really iron that out before we start to dig in to “let’s do this” or “let’s do that.” I think there needs to be some form of charter where we discuss the rights and the moral weight we have to carry if we keep going with this course of action. I think the moral implications have to be worked out before we start messing around with the science. I’ve always believed that. I mean, the science will always go first, inherently, because someone will do something that goes to something else that will then bring up those questions. But I think, as soon as those questions come up, they need to be discussed. That’s a super simplified way of saying it, because it’s not simple at all.
TIE: Speaking of the scene where Scott learns that Cosima is a clone, between that scene and the scenes in the finale where he helps Cosima and Sarah, Scott’s been getting a lot of fandom love on tumblr. I don’t know if you know this, but some people have nicknamed him “Great Scott.” Did you have any idea that that would happen?
JV: None at all. That’s what I love so much about the fans of this show. Everybody really takes it on and makes it their own. And I do love the nickname “Great Scott.” I think that’s cool.
TIE: Tatiana Maslany has said that the RuneWars game terminology was harder for her to learn than the science dialogue. Was it the same for you? Or have you played that kind of game before?
JV: I have played those kinds of games before. But it was harder. There were some choice words we were saying while trying to learn those lines.
TIE: Do you have favorite board games or tabletop games that you play?
JV: Yes. Settlers, Risk, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit.
TIE: In the Season 2 finale, you got to be in a scene with Sarah and Rachel. Were you excited to get to work with different clones besides Cosima?
JV: Yes, very much. I barely slept before we filmed that, then we shot for sixteen and a half hours. It was very long to shoot, but it was worth it. I had such a blast. Such an amazing experience.
S: Scott got to be kind of an action hero in the finale.
JV: Graeme hinted that to me when we were filming episode 9 – “You’re going to get to be a bit of a hero.” And I spent about a week racking my brain, wondering what that could mean. And it happened in the most lovely way, I think.
TIE: You might not be able to answer this, and that’s okay – will you be back for season three?
JV: I have absolutely no idea. I was hanging out with Maria Doyle Kennedy in Dublin a couple weeks ago, and she said the same thing.
S: Well, we hope that you will be back for season 3, because Scott has become a favorite character of ours.
JV: Aw, thank you very much. It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to play Scott Smith. It’s truly an honor to be a guy like that. I really love him very much, and I think his evolution and what he’s become and the fact that he gets to push a lot of his own boundaries is really cool, and it’s a lot of fun to play.
TIE: Is there anything you’d like to say to Clone Club (or the fraction of it that listens to us)?
JV: Absolutely! I can’t even express how much love I have for Clone Club. Orphan Black is a TV show we make for people who want something a little different. People that might feel like they’re on the outside of something or that they’re just a little weird. And I hope that they all love everything that we’re doing, and speaking as someone who – I’ll confess, I’m a strange guy – I can’t express how much love I have for Clone Club and the amazing response everybody has to things. It’s truly humbling and honoring and, you know, sometimes it makes me emotional, looking at my own Twitter or reading the stories that people write about ways the show has inspired them or helped them deal with their own difficulties. That’s why I became an actor. That’s what I wanted to do for other people, because that’s what I wanted for me and it’s absolutely an incredible thing. Sorry, I’m stammering because I don’t even know how to put into words how much the support of Clone Club and the stories they’ve shared with me – I can’t even express how much that means. It’s just beyond words.
K: Strange is totally the best way to be, though.
JV: Yes! Absolutely. I’m not sure that came across right, but what I mean to say is that I like that this show is a little weird and I like that it’s bringing out the weird in everybody and they’re really loving it.
TIE: Do you have other projects you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about?
JV: There’s a screening of a project called OutsideIN, which was a pilot I shot with some friends. I think it’s being shopped around now to a couple different networks. I worked on that with K.C. Collins, who plays Hale on Lost Girl. He’s a really cool guy. It was written and produced by my good friend Gregory Dasilva and directed by another great Toronto actor, Laura Nordin. It’ll be screening at The Royal here in Toronto on the 24th of July, at 7pm.
Huge thanks to Josh for taking time out of his schedule to talk to us!
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