Wow! It’s hard to believe that Orange Is the New Black is already headed towards its 6th season. Binge-watching is great and all, but with a show like OITNB, it’s also a little bittersweet. It’s sweet that you can catch up anytime, yet bitter that it’s so difficult to savor the series. It’s almost impossible not to binge the entire series all at once! It begins with Piper Chapman’s self-surrender to a 15-month sentence at Litchfield Women’s Penitentiary. Although, Piper’s journey soon becomes more about all of the other female inmates’ past and present lives. It’s not long before you’re completely caught up and wishing there was more.
There’s nothing that can be done about the wait for season 6, but there are 5 seasons worth of shocking behind-the-scenes secrets! What better way to pass the time than by catching up on the juicy details from behind the scenes of Orange Is the New Black? There may even be enough info to keep you busy for however long it took to watch the entire last season. Okay, maybe not that long, but these shocking secrets will at least give you something to think about in the meantime. I’ll go ahead and warn you that there are spoilers ahead! Especially, from season 5. So, go on. Check out 15 Shocking Secrets from Behind the Scenes of Orange Is the New Black, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…
15. OITNB: Fact Vs. Fiction
You probably already knew that Orange Is the New Black is loosely based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in A Women’s Prison. However, you might not know what’s fact versus what’s fiction. Piper Chapman’s life, charges, and sentence all came from Piper Kerman’s memoir. Piper did smuggle drugs for her ex and was sentenced to 15 months in a women’s prison. Also, some of the characters, like Larry and Red, are real. Except, Piper calls her Red character Pop, but Larry is still Larry. In fact, the entire prison population is made up of the same dynamics as she described in her memoir.
Despite the similarities, Jenji Kohan has also added quite a bit of fiction into the mix. For example, Piper Kerman never spent time in the SHU, aka solitary. Oh, and her grandmother really did pass away. But in real life, she wasn’t able to get a furlough. Plus, the real-life Larry and Piper never split. In real life, they’re not only still together, but they’re actually happily married.
14. Kate Mulgrew Didn’t Want A Stunt Double
The lady that you see from the scene above is Kate Mulgrew. Although, we know her best as Galina Reznikov, aka Red. For the past five seasons, Red has acted as a den mother, head of the kitchen, and she’s run a greenhouse. However, all bets were off in the last two seasons. During the season 5 riot, Red and her “daughters” were all captured, bound, and gagged by CO Piscatella. This was where things got bad real quick for Red.
Although, it’s also where things got interesting behind the scenes for Mulgrew. Apparently, Mulgrew wanted things to appear as real as possible in these final scenes. Laura Prepon, who acts as Alex Vause and was directing the episode, told The Hollywood Reporter that Mulgrew wanted to do her own stunts. Prepon said she had to tell Mulgrew, “Kate! I legally can’t let you be dragged across the floor by the hair!” This explains why Mulgrew’s character, Red, is so realistic!
13. Yael Stone Enjoyed Nicki’s Advances
There are so many shocking secrets in Yael Stone’s backyard that I hardly know where to begin. Stone had only relocated from Australia to the US, four months before she snatched up the role as the fan-favorite Lorna Morello. Therefore, Lorna’s Bronx/Italian accent is completely fake. In fact, Stone’s true accent is completely Australian. As for Lorna’s accent, Stone claims that it just came to her and stuck. She also claims that this is a shock to Lorna fans who run into her.
However, I believe that Yael Stone’s most shocking BTS revelation comes from some advice she once offered in an interview. Stone said, “If you’re going to do a (steamy) scene, do it with Natasha Lyonne.” Natasha plays the role of Nicky Nichols. According to Yael, “Natasha makes everything feel normal.” She also pointed out that her co-star made sure to compliment her bare chest. This might seem a bit shocking, yet I bet it worked great to bring humor in an otherwise uncomfortable behind-the-scenes moment.
12. Laverne Cox’s Twin Played Sophia Pre-transition
Laverne Cox has been making waves in acting for the transgender community since 2008, but her role as Sophia Burset has allowed her to represent her community the best. The inmate’s heartbreaking turn on Sophia is just another example of how Orange Is the New Black isn’t just about Piper. It’s about the diverse group of incarcerated women. Laverne is also one of the richest transgender people in the world.
Meanwhile, there are actually a few behind-the-scenes secrets about her character, Sophia Burset, that you might not know. One is that pre-transition Sophia was played by Cox’s twin brother, M. Lamar, who isn’t an actor at all. In fact, he’s actually a musician, but Jenji Kohan really wanted him to play the part. Another is that Laverne’s character, Sophia, is based on a real person from Piper Kerman’s memoir. Although, Piper Kerman referred to her as Vanessa, not Sophia.
11. The Real Alex Vause
We know Piper’s ex-girlfriend best as her OITNB character, Alex Vause, who’s portrayed by Laura Prepon from That ’70s Show. However, in her memoir, Piper Kerman called her ex-lover Nora Jansen. Meanwhile, neither of those names belong to Piper’s real ex-girlfriend.
Following the premiere of Orange Is the New Black, Piper’s real ex-girlfriend came forward as Cleary Wolters. Cleary has written her own book now called Out of Orange. She’s a fan of the show but claims that the book is her way of telling her side of the story. The biggest discrepancy is that they were never incarcerated together. Plus, as is the case with most exes, Cleary claimed that her view of things was slightly different from Piper’s. Still, Cleary agrees that Piper probably wouldn’t have wound up in prison, had they never met.
10. Crazy Eyes Character
Uzo Aduba is the Emmy Award-winning actress behind the character of Suzanne Warren. Better known as Crazy Eyes, Suzanne is by far the most confusing inmate at Litchfield. She’s a little bit scary, sweet, and crazy all balled into one. As for Aduba, you never know what to expect from her performance as Crazy Eyes. Aduba plays her so well that you’d think she knew about her character ever since the beginning of the series. Although, she finds out about Suzanne’s history as she gets the script.
According to Uzo, Crazy Eyes was a difficult character for her to get into at first. However, now she says that it’s harder for her to shed the character than it is for her to act out. In fact, she’s even admitted that she often has to ask the director “how far do you want this to go?” beforehand. Uzo has also said that she’s protective of Crazy Eyes, which is easy to believe because it’s hard not to feel protective of Suzanne, even for us watching at home.
9. The Faces In The Opening Sequence
Have you ever wondered about the women’s faces in the opening sequence of Orange Is the New Black? Don’t be shy, you know you have. It’s kind of hard not to semi-obsess over the mystery women in the sequence. None of the women look like an exact match for any of the characters in the series. That’s because those faces belong to women who were actually in prison, including Piper Kerman’s.
The truth is that OITNB was never supposed to be entirely about Piper Chapman’s journey to prison. Jenji Kohan has described Piper Kerman’s story as a gateway to discuss all of the women. Piper’s story was used to get a blended audience to open their eyes to the lives of all women in federal penitentiaries—their backgrounds, personalities, religions, habits, and even their injustices. There isn’t one character on OITNB that somebody out there can’t relate to. Which one is yours?
8. How He Lost His Moustache
Speaking of faces, here’s one that you probably feel like you recognize yet can’t quite wrap your head around. Pablo Schreiber is the actor behind George “P*rnstache” Mendez, but he was also on The Wire, Weeds, and most recently, he’s picked up the part of the leprechaun on American Gods. Schreiber’s basically everywhere, but he just has one of those faces that you can’t seem to place.
As for his time on Orange Is the New Black, Pablo mentioned that he wasn’t happy about being the most hated guy on Twitter, which came about somewhere between his P*rnstache role and being the psychopath who abducted Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU (yep, that was him too). Plus, he wasn’t pleased to let his signature moustache go. He needed to be sold on giving up his moustache and was told that he needed to appear as powerless as possible for the scene where the tables were turned.
7. Yoga Jones’ Voice
Erica Jones, aka Yoga Jones, is portrayed by Constance Shulman. Yoga Jones is the screechy-voiced lady who runs the yoga class on Orange Is the New Black. Many fans recognize her voice and just can’t place where they recognize it from. Most people believe that they recognize her voice from Doug. Doug was a childhood cartoon from the 90’s and Shulman was the voice behind Patti Mayonnaise, who was Doug’s crush.
Although, the truth is that Shulman’s voice is recognized from another slightly familiar character as well. For example, who remembers Missy, the lady from Fried Green Tomatoes? She was Evelyn Couches friend and a part of that weird class where all of the women were looking at their vajayjays with hand mirrors, which also sounds similar to an episode of OITNB! It was that episode where the entire inmate population was stuck on the other portal where a women’s pee comes from? Yep, that’s quite a coincidence, isn’t it? It’s also another reason why Yoga Jones’ squeaky voice is so oddly familiar.
6. OITNB Gets Educational
I’m sure that you’ve wondered how useful some of the prison hacks from OITNB actually are. I can’t speak for all of the series’ prison hacks, but somebody must have done their homework because some of the hacks do work. Take the gum wrapper and battery for a cigarette lighter, for example. That one really works! Although, you’ve got to act fast if you’re planning on lighting a cigarette with it.
All you need is a gum wrapper and a battery. Just make sure it’s the metal-coated gum wrapper, though. You’re not going to get flame from batteries and paper. The idea is to attach the metal-coated side to each end of the battery, in a bridge shape, using a thin strip of the wrapper. Bam! You’ve got yourself a lighter! Who knew that Orange Is the New Black was so educational?
5. Why Natasha Lyonne Is So Great At Being Nicky Nichols
Natasha Lyonne plays the part of Nicky Nichols as if she were one with her character. In reality, Nichols really is very similar to Natasha is in real life, or that’s at least how she sounds in interviews. Natasha Lyonne has always been great at acting. You might have recognized her from Slums of Beverly Hills and American Pie, in which she was right on point too.
The only problem was that she went down the warped road of drug abuse, just like plenty of teen stars do. Although, she got things back on track! Now, she’s using her past and present experiences of being both an addict and former addict in her character, Nicky Nichols. In fact, Nichols is so real for Natasha that the scar on her chest (from a dirty needle infection) is really a scar that Natasha got from a near-death scare.
4. Love Behind The Scenes
Falling in love on the set of a series probably happens all of the time. Therefore, it isn’t that shocking that series writer, Lauren Morelli, fell for Samira Wiley, who played Poussey. However, this couple had a few more secrets than most who fall in love on the set. For one, Lauren Morell was initially married to a man, but a couple years into the series, she divorced. It wasn’t long after that Morelli released a statement saying that she realized that she was gay and in love with a woman.
Of course, that woman turned out to be Wiley, and they’re now married. Yet another shocking behind-the-scenes secret behind the couple is that Morelli wrote the script for Poussey’s tragic death. I don’t know if that’s sweet, creepy, or morbid, but you’ve got to admit it’s sort of shocking.
3. Directing While Tied Up
Earlier, I mentioned that Laura Prepon directed the episode where Red and her daughters were captured, bound, and gagged. Meanwhile, she was acting as Alex Vause, who was also bound and gagged. Talk about crazy! Not only was Prepon dealing with Mulgrew, who wanted to be dragged across the set by her hair, but she was also directing these scenes while bound and gagged.
In an interview, Prepon said that she was tied up with tape over her mouth as she was directing the scenes. She had no hands, nor could she speak. As you can see above, she’s nodding to someone off to her right. Although, what you can’t see is the person just waiting to strip the tape from Prepon’s mouth, only to reapply it when necessary. Yikes! That sounds like an interesting yet painful day on the set! Wouldn’t you agree?
2. Litchfield Penitentiary Was Once Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Facility
The outside scenes from Orange Is the New Black are all shot on the outside of the newer parts of Rockland Psychiatric Center. The facilities are only partially used now. The center once housed around 9,000 patients, but now there’s only 600. The initial idea was to build a grand facility for relaxation therapy. Although, that was prior to the controversial methods of electroshock therapy and lobotomies. It has grounds large enough for several buildings, including an abandoned children’s psychiatric center.
Yep, it’s sad but true. The very same place where we’ve seen our favorite inmates laugh, cry, and struggle to survive is also a place where mental patients go through similar emotions and situations. Even more unfortunate is that it’s also a place where past patients suffered unthinkable traumas.
1. The Writers Thoughts On Writing “Those” Scenes
It’s obvious that fans might wonder what goes on in a celebrities mind while they’re acting out steamy scenes. Although, most fans probably don’t so far as to consider the thoughts of the series writers. They’re the ones who wrote the scenes, yet they are so far behind the scenes that we never think about them at all. Meanwhile, they not only write the steamy scenes, but they also have to face the people they wrote these steamy scenes for.
Lucky for us, two OITNB writers have spoken out! Series writer Lauren Morelli said, “I feel like a little bit of a pimp when I’m on set, just watching two girls take off their tops because I wrote it. I’m like ugh, I’m sorry. Really sorry.” Another series writer, Sian Heder, explained how it’s different when you’ve written a scene or if you’re at home watching a scene versus being “on set watching human beings have to actually do it.” One scene that she mentioned was the one where Nicky Nichols shoves Soso’s face in her crotch to shut her up, which would be pretty awkward.
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