Laura Prepon on lesbian sex and getting naked for “Orange is the New Black”

 
 

Laura Prepon plays Alex, a tough rockabilly drug-smuggler that ends up in prison next to her ex-girlfriend, Piper,  in Orange is the New Black. The actress, who got her start on That ’70s Show, spoke with Collider about her lesbian role and how she was talked into getting naked on screen. (Caution: Mild spoilers ahead!)

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On how she got the role:

I was in Germany sightseeing, eating Bratwurst and hanging out in beer gardens. And then, I got back from Germany and got a call where they were like, “We need to fly you to New York tomorrow to read with Taylor [Schilling].” I was like, “Wait, for Alex, the manipulative drug-smuggling lesbian girl?!,” and they were like, “Yeah.”

On how she connected to her character:

I had to just try to find the character through my experiences and things that have happened to me, in my life.  I have to be connected to my character, or I don’t know what I’m doing.  I just try to find things within myself that relate to this woman and can humanize her.  Alex is tough.  She’s got a really tough exterior.  But as you watch the show, you see that she’s actually really vulnerable, she has her insecurities, and she’s really loving.  Piper is the love of this girl’s life, and Piper completely ruined her.  She ripped her heart out.  Everybody, on some level, can relate to heartache and insecurities that you put on a front for.  She’s a really complex girl.  I just try to relate to her through my own experiences.

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On getting lesbian sexy on screen:

It’s interesting because, when Jenji [Kohan, the show's writer/creator] first wanted me to play Alex, I was like, “Okay, well, there’s two things that I’ve never done before.”  Well, I had done nudity in one other thing, but nudity for an actress is a very particular thing.  It has to do with the material, and making sure it’s not gratuitous, that it’s done in a way that’s shot beautifully, and it’s for a reason.  And I’d never played a lesbian before.  Of course, we’re supportive of the gay and lesbian community.  I’ve just never portrayed that on camera. Once I met Taylor I knew that it was going to be really comfortable and okay, but the nudity was a little bit of an issue for me, so Jenji and I talked about it.

On working with Jodie Foster, who directed the third episode:

It was awesome!  She’s just so cool.  She’s such an amazing actress.  Andrew McCarthy also directed a bunch of these, too.  When you work with an actor, it’s cool because they know what it’s like to be directed themselves.  Jodie directed a scene with me and Taylor that was when she starts talking to me again in prison and it’s our first actual confrontation that we have, where some stuff comes out.  It was really cool because you can tell that she directs in a way that she wants to be spoken to, as an actress.  That’s really nice, and you appreciate that.  Dealing with the actors was more important to her than anything else, which was really nice.

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Orange is the New Black premieres this Thursday, July 11 on Netflix.