Whether it’s the jet black hair, the tattoos, being stuck in a dryer or showering up on-screen with co-star Taylor Schilling, you’re likely not to look at actress Laura Prepon the same after you’ve seen the first season of Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know 13 episodes went live last Thursday and we’ve been devouring episode after juicy episode with our recaps and interviews.
For those not paying attention, Prepon plays the tough-as-nails Alex, who is the former girlfriend of Piper (Schilling) and now the two exes are doing the uncomfortable dance while spending time in prison for a crime they committed together.
Prepon talked to us about her first time playing a lesbian, her biggest challenge in the first season (it’s not the dryer or lathering up with her sexy co-star) and her thoughts on sexual chemistry with another woman.
AfterEllen: Alex is pretty tough until she has that emotional moment in episode 4 with Natasha Lyonne. Can you talk about her and what’s going on under the surface?
Laura Prepon: That’s one thing that’s really cool about this show is you have these women who all put on kind of these tough exteriors, and they’re in prison, and they have to give off the thing of like ‘don’t mess with me.’ But then, because you’re within these four walls and they can’t leave, you see everything. You see them at their best, at their worst. You see them tough. You see them vulnerable.
My character comes off as a very confident woman, which she is, but there are these aspects to her where she is very vulnerable and sensitive, you know? And things affect her and she’s not leading the life that she wants and she can’t believe…she’s so smart and manipulative in certain areas of her life that she actually can’t even believe that she ended up in this situation and is kind of like “How did this happen?” So she’s really trying to figure out what she’s doing. But that scene in particular that you’re referring to in the library, she’s just struggling with a lot of personal things. It’s really cool.
AE: Is it safe to say that Piper’s still very much in her heart? Because I definitely feel like there’s still something going on there, at least on her side of things.
LP: Yes, definitely. Alex is in her love with her. When Piper ended things with her ten years ago, she ruined her. She ripped her heart out. And Alex isn’t used to having something like that happen to her. Piper really did a number on her and anybody can relate to heartbreak. And she very much still loves Piper.
AE: For people that haven’t gotten too far in the series, is that relationship confronted again head on as far as the romance or the love? Does it come back up?
LP: Imagine this person you used to be in love with…in terms of Piper, she was in love with Alex, but then Alex’s lifestyle she couldn’t handle so she dumped her. And Piper tends to be very self serving, which you’re going to learn throughout the series. You think she’s this innocent woman but she’s really not and that’s what’s really cool about this show is that things that you think are happening, it’s like “Whoa, that’s not actually what’s going on.”
But she was also in love with Alex and when you take these women and put them in four walls where they can’t go anywhere, you can kind of imagine what might happen with two women that are not getting along, but there’s this strong love there…and you can kind of use your imagination as to what may happen to these two women who used to love each other.