From Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, Orange is the New Black tells the heartbreaking and hilarious stories of the women at Litchfield Prison. In Season 1, Piper Chapman’s (Taylor Schilling) wild past came back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary where she finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates. In Orange Is the New Black Season 2, shocking revelations and new arrivals shake up the lives and relationships of the prisoners, in ways they never could have imagined.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, co-stars Jason Biggs (“Larry Bloom”) and Laura Prepon (“Alex Vause”) talked about their expectations for the show, when they realized just how much viewers were talking about it, how the success of Season 1 affected the vibe on set for Season 2, enjoying the freedom that comes with wearing the prison wardrobe, how they felt about the journey for their characters in Season 2, how amazing it’s been to collaborate with this creative team, how they feel about where things ended up for their characters, and that they’re already in production on Season 3. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are spoilers.
LAURA PREPON: No. When you’re doing a show, it’s because you gravitated towards the material, and this show, by far, was so amazing. When people watch it and they love it the way that we do, it’s the best compliment that you could ever get. You never know what to expect. We’re just fortunate that people love this show and they get why we all love it. It’s a really great acknowledgment.
When did you start to realize that the show was getting the reaction that it’s gotten?
JASON BIGGS: For me, because I’ve been so closely connected to a specific film (American Pie) and one character and, frankly, one moment in that film, it was an immediate shift that was very noticeable, in what people wanted to talk to me about. How they approached me was way different, and the type of people that approached me was immediately different. It happened right away, and it’s only grown with the success of the show.
Did the success of Season 1 change the vibe on set for Season 2, knowing that you have an audience that will be there watching and there’s a certain expectation level now?
BIGGS: Laura was always diva-ish, so she never really changed. Everyone else was really sweet and nice, but now they’re all cunty, too. They all have their periods at the same time. I’m joking.
PREPON: Everyone has been amazing. Honestly, the thing that’s funny is that, because the first season was such a hit, coming back, the littlest things mean something. I remember talking to Natasha [Lyonne] and she was like, “I feel like my hair is its own entity. At the end of the day, I want to take it off and put it in a box.” My glasses became a thing. Everyone has their own character thing, which became their heightened sensibility. It’s rad. Audiences love the show, but everyone keeps a really good head on their shoulders. We all want to make the best show possible.
Laura, after spending so much time in the prison wardrobe for Season 1, were you thankful to get rid of it for a bit, or do you actually start to miss it?
PREPON: It’s cool not to have to worry about wardrobe, and have it just be about the acting and the moment-to-moment with the other actresses. So, there’s a part of you that gets used to it and that likes the freedom. But it’s always nice, once in awhile, to play dress up in the flashback scenes.
What was your reaction to learning that Alex would be in the outside world, in Season 2? Did it almost feel like you were suddenly on a different show?
PREPON: No. We’re all close, so they would all send me texts from prison. It was a scheduling conflict that I couldn’t get out of, but the way they worked the storyline helped. Now, we’re shooting Season 3 and we have this whole thing to be able to play with. It’s cool that the writers were able to write some good stuff.
How far into Season 3 are you?
PREPON: We’re doing the third episode, right now. It’s really nice that people know they can be invested in the show because they know it’s coming back.
Jason, what was your reaction to learning that Larry would be starting this new relationship with his ex-fiancée’s best friend while his ex-fiancée is still in prison? Were you ever worried about how much audiences might hate him for that?
BIGGS: Funny you should ask. I feel like the audience’s hatred for Larry was pretty well established, going into Season 2. I’m generalizing, of course. It’s interesting, I feel like Larry’s decisions in Season 2 are in keeping with his established selfishness, that came about at the end of Season 1. He basically became an opportunist. I also feel like he has been really hurt by Piper, and he is acting out. A lot of these things that he’s doing, including hooking up with Polly, is a version of him acting out and trying to protect himself, in a way. And so, I’m not entirely surprised by this. It almost feels like an organic next step for Larry. If my Twitter timeline is any indication, I already felt like there was a backlash towards Larry for the things he did in Season 1, so for me, it was a natural progression.
BIGGS: That’s a great question. In Season 3, he kills Piper. In Episode 4, he actually strangles her. Then, he goes to a male prison, and there will be a spin-off show called Blue is the New Black because we wear blue jumpsuits.
What’s it been like to collaborate with this creative team, working with Jenji Kohan and having such great directors on the show?
PREPON: It’s been amazing. Netflix is amazing ‘cause they trust the creator to do their job, and they trust us to do our job. They’re really smart, and just let us do our thing and deliver a great job. That’s awesome. It’s so good because they let Jenji and the writers write these incredible stories, and they let us really portray these characters the way we feel they should be portrayed. They really give us the creative freedom to make a great show. Networks, especially, micro-manage everything to death.
Jason, what’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about your character, since you started playing him?
BIGGS: For me, I actually was surprised to find out that Larry and Polly knew each other before Piper and Polly knew each other. That was something that we learned in Season 2, and that was interesting to me, especially given the turn that their relationship took. It makes me curious about what the circumstances were when they first met. Was there something flirtatious there, from the beginning? Do they have a romantic history? Was it always platonic? It’s just complicated it in a very interesting way. Maybe that’s something we’ll learn in the future, and maybe not. Especially because I’m playing a character that is not one of the characters that you’re gonna go back in time with and learn about his history, I thought that was an interesting little nugget.
How do you feel about where things ended for your characters? Were you satisfied with the journey they took in Season 2?
PREPON: It was cool because Episode 1 of Season 2 ended with Alex making this decision where audiences were like, “Oh, my god!,” and were freaking out. And then, at the end of Season 2, you see this shift where Piper does something that is a total 180 and she screws Alex over. That’s why their relationship is so cool. There’s this constant power shift and they manipulate each other, but there’s also this really great love there. So, for me, the way it was left off was great. We’re filming Season 3 right now and it’s lead to this whole new awesome storyline that we get to play with. For our characters, that’s really, really cool.
BIGGS: For Larry, I thought the turn with Polly was interesting. I thought that was a really bold choice, and it was fun for me to play. Those scenes were really fun. And as far as Larry and Piper are concerned, I really do believe that there is a world that exists where they do work together. I just don’t know when. Right now, they certainly don’t. The truth is, I don’t know where it goes from here for Larry. I think it will be tricky. It will be interesting, to say the least. I’m excited and curious.
Orange is the New Black is now available on Netflix.