AE: What would you say was the biggest challenge in this series? I heard you spent a lot of time in a dryer in one episode.
LP: Oh my god. I did, yeah.
AE: Was that the biggest challenge?
LP: No, no, no. It definitely was not the biggest challenge. Taryn Manning plays Pennsatucky and she and my character do not get along at all, so there is an episode where she locks my character in a dryer because she and I work in the laundry in the prison. But it’s funny because everyone was freaking out about the dryer. Everyone was like “OK, Laura, you’re going to be in the dryer next episode. Are you OK with that? Are you claustrophobic? We’ll poke holes so you can breathe.” I’m like “You guys, I’m like it’s fine, like it’s not a big deal.”
As an actress, we go through things that most people would never go through in their lifetime. Literally, we have to do things where we’re just like “Who does this?” Like my last show, on the Chelsea show, there was an episode where my character dated a French chef and my character ends up getting really fat and I get like addicted to food. There’s a scene where I’m on the floor eating beef bourguignon off of the floor with bread, like sopping it off of the floor. And I’m literally like, “You guys, I’m literally going to be on the floor eating food off the floor like a dog?” And they’re like “Yes.” And I’m like “All right, let’s do it.” In real life, when would I ever be eating beef bourguignon off the floor? Now I’m getting stuck in the dryer. It is what it is, you know?
In terms of challenging, honestly I don’t know if I would ever use the word challenging. I mean, my role in general is an awesome, challenging role because she’s strong and she’s all these things. I think the most challenging, and I think a lot of the inmates will tell you this, is eating that food in the cafeteria scenes, that was challenging. Because it was so gross and we all hated it. I would rather be locked in a dryer than have to eat the food in those cafeteria scenes. It was like instant mashed potatoes and like gross eggs that had been sitting around forever. I mean, give it up to our prop guys. They really tried. But they had to feed like a hundred inmates so it’s like whenever we did those scenes, we would all try to find our little tricks on how to make it look like we’re eating but not really eat. And I found a trick. My trick is to eat oranges. My trick is oranges.
AE: You can’t really mess up an orange.
LP: Yeah. So whenever I had to eat, I would just take an orange, peel it, and eat oranges.
AE: The tattoos you had for the show were so cool. Did you end up getting tattoo envy?
LP: You know what? I totally did. My favorite one was the big rose on my arm. I love the rose. To the point where whenever they had to take it off I felt weird without it being there and I was like “Do I need to get a tattoo?” And all my friends are like “No, you’re not getting a tattoo, girl.” All my makeup artists were like “Do not get tattoos” because they’re the ones that have to cover it.
AE: Will we get an episode that we see the flashback for Alex where we get more of her story?
LP: Yes. You get to see a little bit of that. They don’t delve into it a lot, but we mainly delve into the relationship between Piper and Alex. But yes, we do get to see some of her backstory.
AE: How did you approach playing a lesbian since I know that’s new for you in your career, right?
LP: Yeah, I haven’t at all and, of course, we’re all really supportive of the gay and lesbian community. I’ve just never portrayed it on camera, you know? And it was really interesting. I mean, honestly, the main thing I learned was whether it’s a man or a woman, if there’s chemistry, there’s chemistry. Taylor and I have amazing chemistry and it’s really awful when you work with an actor when you don’t have chemistry. We’ve all been through that. As an actor, it’s “Oh god, the chemistry’s not there” and you have to do everything to put it there but sometimes it’s naturally there and it just works and it’s awesome. And that’s how me and Taylor were.
We first met…the first scene we ever shot was the shower scene in the pilot. So we had only met one other time and then we literally, our first day on set, our first scene we’re like “OK, let’s take a shower together, you know? “And it was amazing…we were so comfortable and the chemistry we have comes across on camera. It’s really, really cool. But that’s the main thing I learned is whether it’s a man or a woman, if it’s there, it’s there.
AE: Since you’ve been in the business for awhile, what do you think of what Netflix is doing with loading all the episodes in one day so people can really binge?
LP: I think it’s really cool. You know, personally, my hours are so crazy so it’s for me, when I do have some time to actually catch up on a show, I like to watch multiple episodes at the same time. I also know that most of my friends do that. Most of my friends are canceling their cable subscriptions and they just have Netflix hooked up to their TV. And that’s how most of them are watching their shows now.