This weekend, we were lucky enough to be a part of a press junket with 10 cast members from Orange is the New Black, and we're officially sure there is no better way to spend a Saturday. Throughout this week, we'll be serving up hysterical, insightful, and often swoon-worthy interviews (keep an eye out for Laura Prepon, everyone!), starting with Natasha Lyonne and Yael Stone, who star as inmate besties-with-benefits Nicky Nichols and Lorna Morello. Right off the bat we had to acknowledge just how much Yael's orange dress matched the wallpaper.
You do match the wall, it’s uncanny:
Yael: It’s creepy, right?
Yael, in your flashback scene you had the Long Island Princess/Guidette style. How'd you like that?
Yael: I almost couldn't see my own breasts. I could rest my chin on my own tits, which has never happened before. It was really fun! It's so far away from me to be honest, it is the complete opposite direction. I'm pretty low maintenance.
That backstory was one of the most shocking moments of the whole season.
Yael: It was kind of scary, huh?
Throughout the first season we feel so bad for her. She's away from her fiance, she needs to plan her wedding, and then you find out she’s a stalker. When you found out that that was really what was going on, were you surprised?
Yael: It was delicious! What a delicious turn of events. I mean, you pray for that kind of surprise, it’s wonderful to be given a gift where you’re going to shock a bunch of people. Luckily, people didn’t seem so mad at Lorna so much as like, still feeling sorry for her, which is crazy! I mean, really, people are like, ‘That damn Christopher!’ Dude’s being stalked. I didn’t feel like there was enough compassion for Christopher, really.
You two, I think, are actually the cutest couple in the entire show.
Natasha & Yael: Awwww!
The whole reason that your characters couldn't together was because of Christopher. Now that he's out of the picture, is there any chance-
Yael: You want us to make out right now?
Uh...any season 3 chance of a possible reuniting?
Yael: If we were going to write this show, I’m sure we would write that. But unfortunately we haven’t been employed in that capacity yet.
Natasha: Yet. Yeah, I mean, certainly it seems that they are, at this point, forever bound and they’re now accountable to each other completely. They’ve crossed that line of true intimacy, it would seem, after that scene on the steps. Nicky makes it so clear to her that she loves her unconditionally despite it and sees her for who she is so completely in all of her potentially really dangerous madness, but still she’s like, ‘I don’t give a fuck. I love you.’ And so I do think that whether that ends up being completely romantic again or not, I think they probably crossed that line where they can’t necessarily just have freewheeling sex in the same way. They probably really need to acknowledge it one way or the other at this point. But I don’t think they’ll ever not be, uh...
Natasha: Yeah, connected after this.
Natasha, this isn’t your first experience with a phenomenon like this. Are you Orange is the New Black fans crazier than your other fans?
Natasha: First of all, I don’t think in 30 years of doing this I’ve ever experienced anything like this, where it hit such a cultural chord as this has. I think it reflects well on the moment that we’re in as a people. Maybe we’re getting fed up with all this homogenized orange skin and botox, fake teeth. Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come, and that’s really exciting. It’s meaningful and gives us great pride. You know, when I was a kid in show business, there was no such thing as the internet, so we didn’t really have this direct access. Netflix just put us both on Twitter, and it’s really immediate access, so even if the fans were as wonderfully crazed as they are now, I would have no direct way of knowing. I now have a constant reminder. So many people are calling me their ‘bae.’
Yael: I just learned today what that means!
Natasha: Yeah, you’re like a, ‘babe,’ but I don’t have the time to spell that out for you. Like, I’m a busy person. I just need to cut to the chase and call you a ‘bae.’
Yael: How do you spell it?
Natasha: It’s b-a-e. You, for example, are a total bae. You’re like a #bae. Like, all caps. You feel me? So the thing is, I didn’t know that they thought maybe I was a bae before. I had no direct way of knowing, and now it’s, like, all day I know that I’m their bae. If you do something people don’t like, it could be really painful that there was constant access to you, and they were insulting you the whole day. But thank goodness this show is so well received that it’s mostly like, ‘Will you be my bae? Why are you so bae?” I’m all for that kind of audience participation.
When the show began last year, Natasha, people were kind of calling it your comeback since you had taken a break from acting for so long. Did you look at it that way as well?
Natasha: I don’t even know that I’d ever been a part of anything that was this big a deal the first time around. It’s really great, I’m so grateful to Jenji (Kohan, the series creator), and I’m so happy to be on this show. It feels really nice that there’s space for me in this industry and that everybody is so warm to me. Obviously I had a lot of tricky problems there that I had to work out and so it’s nice that people have been so warm and ready to receive me back, because that’s often not the case.
Yael: That would be the world’s greatest lost. That would be sad.
Natasha: I don’t know about all that, but I’m having a real nice time now. It’s certainly fun to be a part of something so good and always talking about that. It’s not a ton of fun being infamous and it’s a lot more fun to talk about work that you’re proud of then to always be talking about your personal problems.
Do you guys get people from prison telling you about your experiences?
Yael: The coolest answer to that question is that recently Sharon Jones (soul singer) talked about the fact that she’d been a prison guard. Rolling Stone did a whole interview with her about the accuracy of the show in terms of her experiences as a prison guard and that was so exciting to read her insights and I admire her so much and to think 'Wow, This woman has watched our show.’ is pretty wild. There’s a lot of personal validation in terms of, whether people have been in prison or not, people are identifying with characters in a really strong way. Recently I had someone come up to me and say, ‘Thank you so much for being involved in something that gives me faith in the entertainment industry again. I just felt like there was no place for people of color, for people of different sizes and shapes, for women in general.' For someone to say that to you, it means so much.
What season 2 story line did you two enjoy watching the most from the outside looking in?
Yael: Well, I haven't finished yet, I'm up to episode 6. But I was very touched by Taystee's backstory with Vee and that exploration of motherhood between the two of those and how fraught that is. And it just made me understand Taystee now in a beautiful way, and I think that's a great format that the show has. You see these backstories and everything has a slightly deeper echo chamber now. To see the pain that she'd gone through, to see how she'd been betrayed by her mother figure, that really moved me. She was pretty much born into the roughest lot that you can be born into, and she's actually an incredibly charming survivor. The fact that she ended up in prison is not a failure, it's probably a symptom of a problem, and that storyline helped me understand that.
With Emmy nominations coming up, what would it mean to the cast if you received recognition?
Natasha: Well, we just came back from the Critics’ Choice thing, and it was really pretty fun. First of all, it just feels like we have some sort of crazy chain gang thing going. I don’t know what it is, but all of us showing up in the room, and yeah, we’re not typical cardboard cutouts of what one would think an actress should be. I don’t even know how that got so twisted over the years, cause really that’s not our job, to be models. But anyway, we’re just not the usual suspects when we roll in. We’re all very different, and we’re pretty well handled in the personality department, all of us. Everybody is so nice to us, everybody wants to take pictures with us. All these people that are mind-bogglingly famous and talented -- they’re all really excited to see us. And then just winning on top of it! It feels like we’re such an outside crew, and Netflix is such a new frontier and so cool. It feels like we’re definitely at a table that’s ‘other.’ Very much like we’re all just there doing it our way. And then for there to be an award for that, it’s powerful. It’s great news that the tide is turning. Again, I don’t think any actress is thrilled about the idea that it’s become her job to become a size zero and get botox for a living. So I think that for everybody in the room, we’re all excited that this is being well-received culturally. And if the Emmy’s shake out that way, that would be great. It’s a lot of fun, Jenji is brilliant, and the show is so special.