As the UK sets itself up for a weekend of binge-watching in bed as the eagerly-anticipated third season of Orange is the New Black
lands on Netflix, we're sharing our interviews with some of the cast from last summer to refresh our minds and find of what to expect from the ladies of Litchfield Penitentiary.
First up, we chat to former That '70s Show
star Laura Prepon - aka Alex Vause, OITNB
's enigmatic sometime antagonist and Piper's ex-girlfriend, whose shady dealings working for an international drugs cartel landed the show's main protagonist in prison in the first place. After making only sporadic appearances in season 2, Laura's back as a series regular for season 3, meaning we can surely expect nothing but more dramz for Pipes...
Attitude: Is it true that you originally auditioned to play Piper?
Laura Prepon: I did. They weren’t casting the role of Alex Vause yet. I loved the script so much, I auditioned for the role of Piper, even though I didn’t feel I was right for it. Jenji then said she couldn’t get me out of her head for the role of Alex. So it all worked out in the end!
How did you prepare for the role?
Well, it’s great having a book that it was based off of to get a sense of it. I got the job and moved to NYC 14 hours later to start shooting, so my preparation came while I was shooting. I connect to Alex in many ways. She’s such a badass, I love playing her. She’s power hungry, but also very vulnerable when it comes to Piper. She’s a really great, complex character to play.
This is the first lesbian role you have played, and sexuality is a huge part of your character – would you say even more than her criminality?
I think they’re both what make Alex Vause who she is. She is a very sexual character, but that also came with her job. She loved that position of power and dominance. She’s a very self-confident girl, but we get to see these other softer sides to her. She loves Piper very much and sex is a big part of their relationship. They also abuse that as well. It’s a very tumultuous and dangerous thing.
How did you get comfortable with that role?
I was comfortable right away. Taylor and I are very comfortable with each other, and trust each other. When you have that it makes it so much easier. I love playing this role. This is an amazing love story that you don’t normally get to see. It’s a same sex relationship, its volatile, truthful and passionate.
You’re in some pretty graphic sex scenes – were you nervous about them?
I think any actor who says they aren’t nervous during a sex scene is lying [laughs]. I mean, you’re doing a graphic scene in front of a camera and 30 crew members. I love my cast and crew so much though, so it really is as comfortable as you can be in that situation.
What has been your favourite scene to shoot?
I loved the flashback scenes at the end of the first season. The location where we were shooting was amazing, and Taylor and I had these great scenes together. I also really liked the flashback scene in season two where my girlfriend beats up piper and then piper and I have a scene after that. That was a funny day.
The opening episode of season two sees you kind of screwing over Piper, and we were just starting to like you!
[Laughs] Alex always has to keep people on their toes! That’s why this relationship between them is so cool though. They both do selfish things to each other and look out for themselves at times, but they really do love each other. Also, in Alex’s defence... Piper DID say she was going to tell the truth.
Do you think sexuality is as big a part of prison life as OITNB portrays?
I think in general these women want some sense of love and companionship. So, I’m sure it is a big part of it.
Do you like the Netflix format of dropping a whole season all at once?
I do like this format. It’s how I watch my shows, and how all of my friends watch their shows. It gives the audience control over how they watch.
How would you like your character to develop in season three? You’re a confirmed season regular and the second season’s end doesn’t exactly look promising for Vause.
Our writers are amazing, so I’m not too worried about what will happen for my character in season three. Every week is like Christmas morning when I get the script for the next episode. I’m in every episode in season 3. We started shooting last week and I’m so happy to be back, I missed the show and my character so much.
Next we caught up with Kimiko Glenn, who joined the cast in season 2 as sweet-but-entitled motormouth Brook Soso, who wasted no time winding up the inmates (and viewers) with her inane chatter and misguided political protests. With her backstory still yet to be revealed however, will season 3 sees Brook get some redemption from audiences?
Attitude: So Kimiko, despite being a little narcissistic, Brook is more-or-less pleasant. Why do you think she grates on people so much?
I think so much of it has to do with the fact that she reeks - pun intended - of privilege, and she doesn't know when to shut up. She is constantly trying to ‘educate’ everyone around her and it's hard for that not to elicit an eye roll, especially when it seems like she may not know what she's talking about. That being said, I think it all comes from a genuinely good place, it just comes out a little forced in front of the wrong audience.
Are there any similarities between you and her?
I suppose I am similar to Brook in a way. I am a pescatarian, I use essential oils for everything, and I live my life as naturally as possible. Some of my friends would call me a hippie, but I wouldn't exactly go to that extreme.
Had you already watched the first season when you auditioned?
I had watched about half of the episodes - I was actually in the middle of watching the show when I got told I had the audition. At first I didn't think it was real; I thought I was seeing things. But it was real and it was happening the next day, so I knew I had to buckle down and do everything I could to get it. I never thought I would actually get the role, or play an inmate for that matter! It was pretty surreal.
What did you have to do in the audition?
I had nine pages to memorise, and Brook talks a LOT. I read the scene where I am complaining about not having enough food options, the scene where I am lying on Piper's bed, and the 'you pimped me out for a blanket' scene with Jen Euston, the casting director, and by the grace of God I did not forget my lines. Twenty-four hours later, I got the role and had to be on set at 6am the next day!
That ‘pimped me out for a blanket’ scene is great! Do you think you could hack being someone’s prison wife?
It depends on who she was! I don't think I could hack being Boo's prison wife...
You’re in a very graphic sex scene with Natasha Lyonne in Season two, how did you prepare for that?
I mean, there's no real way you can prepare for that! I tried practicing in my apartment, but that proved futile. I just ran my lines like crazy, learned quickly, and committed to my choices.
Your backstory is still to be revealed, have you speculated as to what it is you’ve done?
Of course I have speculated, but I am always wrong! I realised a few episodes in that I can't get ahead of myself. Nothing I predict ever ends up happening. But I am super curious about [Brook's friend] Meadow!
How do you think Brook’s character helps as far as minority representation goes?
She is one of two recurring Asian characters on the show, and I think even the fact that there are two Asians on the same show is, unfortunately, somewhat of a feat. Thankfully, the role of Brook does not play into any Asian stereotypes and I think that is what is so exciting. Her presence is creating a discussion and that is so important.
Who do you hang with on set?
Most of my scenes are with my laundry buddies: Taryn Manning, Emma Myles, and Julie Lake, so we end up hanging out a lot. Jackie Cruz, who plays Flaca, is a total sweetheart and I love me some Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman).
What would you say to someone who thinks OITNB is a show about women, for women?
It’s absolutely not. The show is hilarious, smart, and truthful. People want to see quality television, and Orange
has a little something for everyone!
WORDS: AARON TOUMAZOU
Orange is the New Black Season 3 is available to watch in full on Netflix now.
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