"I've never smuggled drugs across international borders..." Orange is the new black's Laura prepon gets into character
The Bad Girls Are Back! Celebrate the return of Orange Is The New Black as i-D heads to Litchfield Penitentiary to catch up with our favourites from Netflix’s funniest, fiercest, most fabulous series. Laura Prepon fills us in on playing the...
Laura Prepon by Kate Cox
I'm just like 'Whatever, I've never acted in a dryer before'. It's all a learning experience.
When you signed up for Orange Is The New Black, Netflix wasn't proven as a broadcaster. Was that a risk, as an actor?
When we were filming Season One, House of Cards hadn't come out yet so nobody really knew what Netflix was about. But the pilot was so good, plus I was a fan of [creator] Jenji Kohan's Weeds so we all just took a leap of faith and it worked out because now Netflix is doing really well. They let their creatives accomplish their vision, whereas lot of networks micromanage everything to death and that's when things fall apart.
How do you think Series 2 develops?
With the first season, you're just trying to establish all the characters and figure out who everybody is. The second season, you're re-establishing them and doing a backstory on everybody else and then by the end of Season Two you know who everyone is. So with Season 3, you can really blow it out of the fucking water! What season is Game of Thrones on right now? And they're just blowing up. It's the same with Breaking Bad. When all the characters are established, the writers can just do whatever they want, because they don't have to worry about exposition.
Do you have much in common with your character Alex?
I mean, I've never smuggled drugs across international borders. One thing I do relate to with Alex is that she's very worldly, she's seen a lot of things, she's done a lot of things. The thing is that she's very power hungry. She loved running this international drug smuggling cartel. She just loved that power. She's a strong independent woman and people always say that I am too. We do have a lot of similarities, but she's a lot more cutthroat than me, I care about the people around me and how they're affected by what I do. She's a lot more selfish.
What's been the hardest scene for you to play so far?
The scenes that I find the hardest are the most satisfying for me. When we were filming Season One, I don't know if you remember, Taylor and I had this scene where we were in my European apartment and we were fighting and my mother had just died and she'd just left me. That day was so awesome as we had crying scenes and fight scenes so at the end of the day you just feel so satisfied as an actor. Even the episode where I was locked in the dryer, I'm just like 'Whatever, I've never acted in a dryer before'. It's all a learning experience.
How do you define the success of OITNB?
I mean a show like this is like lightning in a bottle. This is truly a cultural phenomenon and it's rare when it happens because there are so many shows and so many things in the air, it's really incredible. Everything has to be firing on all cylinders; the cast, the writing, the directing, everything. This show is just awesome. We're not out to make a statement about same-sex relationships, transgender, or the corruption in the penal system. We're just doing our show, and Jenji and our writers are just awesome. We're like this little microcosm of this women's prison, but this is what goes on. We're definitely not trying to be PC, and that's why audiences love it because we're just telling the story and we don't care if you think we're anti anything, because nothing is taboo for Jenji. We just go there.
What's the most LOL night you've had?
We've definitely gone out for cocktails and you know Lea does stand up comedy so she'll always invite people to her shows. We do work really long hours, but it's great.
How would Laura Prepon cope with prison?
I don't think it would be good for me at all, or anyone else I know. My character is a bit of a loner; she's a lone wolf. She does what she does to survive, she knows how to ride the social hierarchy of the prison, and makes it so that nobody fucks with her, and if you do fuck with her she'll fight back which is why she's such a cool, badass character to play. I would take a page out of Alex's book and keep my head down and be really smart and try and work my way through there.
If you were given life in prison, who would you want to share your cell with?
Well I wouldn't want to say someone I hadn't met and spent time with, because that would be bad! It's really tough. My sister Danni is my best friend in the world so I'd probably just say her. We get along great, she's amazing, she knows me better than anyone, so probably her.
If you were going to go to prison, what book would you take with you?
Oh god that's tough. Probably like The Mists of Avalon or something like that. My sister who is like a hippy, got me into it.
Nothing is taboo. We just go there.
I'd probably take a picture of my father with me because he passed away when I was 14, so just to know that he was looking over me.
A luxury item?
An eyelash curler. My eyelashes go straight down so I live in an eyelash curler. Everyday it's the first thing I'd do. If I had the choice between wearing no make-up and an eyelash curler, or a full face of make-up and no curler, I'd choose no makeup.
And a piece of music?
Probably like a really good piece of classical music because a lot of music you'd just get sick off and classical is transcendent. Maybe some Billy Joel, because… why not!?
If you could follow one person on social media while inside, who would it be?
I think I'd probably follow Conan O'Brien because he's really funny.
Your Death Row meal?
A home cooked meal by my mother who is the best chef ever. I'm vegan, and she's a gourmet chef, she makes the most incredible food, it's insane. She cooks with butter and fat, she makes foie gras, she makes her own Peking duck and crazy, crazy stuff. She literally will have a duck hanging in her bedroom with a fan blowing on it like they do in Chinese restaurants. She's crazy and she's nocturnal so she'd do this stuff at like five in the morning. It's hilarious. I had a very unorthodox upbringing. Basically I take everything she taught me and try to apply it to vegan food. So I use all her techniques but with vegan food. Vegan is tough.
How was your upbringing unorthodox?
I'm the youngest of five and my father was a surgeon and he died when I was really young, and my mum was like a doctor's wife and all she would do is cook, all night, so I've never had a rule in my life, never told to do my homework, which I think makes us more chill because we've had nothing to rebel against. She would literally be cooking all night and we had dinner at 1 in the morning and you'd eat this crazy spread of all this insane food. She let me drop out of school at 15 and move to Europe because I wanted to pursue modelling, so I lived there by myself and then started acting when I was 17 and then moved to LA because I booked That 70s Show. Everything I know is basically self-taught.
What's the best thing about being on Orange is The New Black?
First of all our LGBT fans are incredible, and when you look at the vast demographic that watches the show - from kids to my friend's 85 year-old grandmother - having the main storyline being a same sex relationship and having this vast demographic being obsessed with it, it really shows how far we've come as a society. That's something that is really special for me. Also just being a part of something that's really affecting people in a great way, and being these pioneers of this new Netflix frontier, it's just incredible.