featured Interview

Interview: ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ Daniel Maslany on ‘The Mohel,’ Music, and His Sister Tatiana’s New Gig as a Marvel Superhero

April 6, 2021Ben MK

When it comes to tradition, there are generally two schools of thought. On the one hand, there are those who believe that traditions help form the building blocks of our society and, hence, should be respected; but on the other hand, there are those who believe that we as a society cannot progress without breaking down barriers and, hence, breaking away from tradition. But when it comes to institutions like religion, it seems that matters are a little more tricky. And it his short film, The Mohel, writer-director Charles Wahl explores those complications, as he tells the story of a Jewish couple (Daniel Maslany and Kaelen Ohm) who hire a Mohel to perform their newborn son's Brit Milah ceremony.

I caught up with star Daniel Maslany to chat about The Mohel, his musical side projects, and, of course, why his sister Tatiana is the perfect choice to play Marvel's She-Hulk.

The Mohel is a story about the collision between tradition and real life. What drew you to the project?

Maslany: I had worked with Kaelen Ohm, who plays my wife Lola in the film, [on Murdoch Mysteries]. She had done Charles Wahl's previous film that was at SXSW 2019, called Little Grey Bubbles. But she was really great to talk to off-camera. And it just felt like we were like-minded artists, so she passed my name onto Charles when they were casting this. I think he had seen some of my work, but we had a really good chat. So I read his script and saw his previous short and just really liked his eye for naturalism and catching these really human, intimate moments, which of course is the heart of what The Mohel ends up being. Because it's a more personal story than a murder mystery. It's a little bit more intimate.

I understand that you filmed the short in Halifax a couple of months before everything changed in March of 2020. What was that experience like?

Maslany: It really does feel like another time, because it was so many people crammed into a little house, and we had a baby with us too, who was quite newborn. I think it's really interesting for it to be coming out now, because it is about those difficult conversations that you have with family about tradition. Which is obviously what everybody's doing right now during the pandemic — they're changing plans, they're maybe going a different route than what their parents did when they had kids and things like that. But Halifax was beautiful and [it was] such a great community, such a great cast and crew that Charles put together out there. It was nice also to escape out of my everyday and go somewhere else to shoot it, because it really did help immerse myself in the story.

You're not just an actor, but you're a composer as well. Can you tell me a bit about that?

Maslany: I have a funny, backwards way of composing music. I record myself playing acoustic instruments — badly cuz I don't know how to play instruments very well — and then I take all the recordings and I sample the different tones that end up sounding interesting to me. It creates an electro-acoustic blend of music. So I have been doing that for theatre primarily, and working on my own music that way. And a little bit for film now.

Of course, your sister Tatiana is best known for starring in Orphan Black. But she's also soon to be seen as the title character in Marvel's She-Hulk. What do you think makes her the perfect choice for the role, and is there a chance that you'll be appearing alongside her on-screen anytime soon?

Maslany: I haven't read tons of comics. I've played quite a few characters that end up being video game, comic book fans, so I've delved into that culture a little bit. But I don't know the story that well. I think there are flavors in Orphan Black that could lead into that [character] — a supernatural and a hero element. But [Tatiana]'s cool. She's gonna kill it. She is a superhero. If the right project came along and they needed us to be siblings or something like that, that would be super fun.

What do you want viewers to take away from The Mohel?

Maslany: Short films have a great format that often poses a question and doesn't necessarily give all the answers. And I think this one certainly does that around religion and tradition and family. So I hope that it leads to a conversation around those things and the pressures that we feel.

Last but not least, what advice would you give to those looking to get into the industry as either an actor or a filmmaker?

Maslany: I'd say that everybody has such a different path in and through the industry — and [there are] lots of ebbs and flows of busy times — [so] just try to enjoy all those peaks and valleys. Cuz each moment can be really fleeting, but sometimes if you're always thinking ahead or thinking what's next you don't get to enjoy what's right in front of you. So try to enjoy that journey and find the fun and the play in every project you do.

The Mohel screened under the Narrative Shorts Competition section at the 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 14 min.

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