Q&A: Taylor Schilling
A product of West Roxbury and Wayland, Taylor Schilling stars in the much-buzzed-about Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Her character, a happily engaged New York yuppie, is suddenly sent to prison because of a mistake from her past and forced to adapt to the rough, unforgiving life of an inmate. It turns out that Schilling found her inspiration for the part back at homeâ€”well, at least for most of the scenes.
Your father was a Bristol County prosecutor and actually worked for the state Department of Corrections. Thatâ€™s pretty crazy.
Isnâ€™t that wild? When I grew up, I would hear DOC this, DOC that. I would hear about him going to visit Walpole prison all the time. And all these crazy storiesâ€”looking back, itâ€™s like, Oh my God, the stuff that he would tell us. It was like being prepared for this part when I was a wee one. Itâ€™s just very, very surreal. And then to put on that costume, with it saying, â€śProperty of DOCâ€ť on my back. It was weirdâ€”full circle.
So what does your father think of the show?
Well, there are parts of it heâ€™s not allowed to talk to me about.
Iâ€™m guessing the shower scenes.
Yeah, the shower scenes. Like, you can watch it. I donâ€™t want you to mention it. I donâ€™t want you to talk about it to me ever. Weâ€™re never going to discuss that for the rest of our lives. But other than that, you know whatâ€™s actually really cool? We have talked about the political aspect of the show, and heâ€™s so proud of it. He believes the story is so important to be toldâ€”humanizing the experience of prisoners in the system. Itâ€™s sort of what heâ€™s been talking about for my whole life, and itâ€™s very cool to be on the inside of bringing that to a wider audience. As Iâ€™m talking to you, Iâ€™m realizing what a theme this has been my entire life. I havenâ€™t even really put this together until this moment. Like, theyâ€™re very closely connected.
A breakthrough! Weâ€™ll send you the therapy bill later. But itâ€™s interesting you say that, because the authorities in the show donâ€™t always come off well.
Itâ€™s another thing Iâ€™ve been hearing my whole life, how the officers are a problem, sometimes more of a problem than the inmates. Itâ€™s different sides of the same coin: the correctional officers and the inmates.
Thereâ€™s been a ton of talk lately about how there are a lot more great roles on TV right now for men than women. But your show is the opposite: Itâ€™s filled with interesting female characters. Iâ€™m guessing that was part of the appeal of it for you.
Absolutely. To find a womanâ€™s role that is fully fleshed out and ambiguous and honest and unglamorized…itâ€™s a needle in a haystack to find one of these roles, let alone 25. And thatâ€™s what this show does. Iâ€™d like to think that people are responding to thatâ€”for me, when I see that, it almost resonates in your animal brain. It almost passes your intellectual brain.
The characters are great, but when I was watching the first episode and the character Yoga Jones came on, I was going crazy trying to figure out where I knew her voice from. And then I read somewhere that itâ€™s Patti Mayonnaise from Doug. Doug!
Oh, totally. And I didnâ€™t even realize that it was her until somebody told me that they read that online. But I did the whole series without knowing that. Sheâ€™s so awesome. Isnâ€™t that wild? Doug defined a generation.
So when you saw the script for Orange Is the New Black, did you read it and just say, â€śMan, this is goldâ€ť? Or did you have to be convinced?
I was so excited to read it, because I was a really big fan of [show creator] Jenji Kohan. But then I read it, and I was just totally blown away. I think it was the best television script I had ever read, and maybe the best script, period, in terms of character.
So there was no doubt? Because thereâ€™s some pretty intense stuff in those scripts. In the showâ€™s opening sequence, you have a lesbian shower-sex scene.
It was really full speed ahead. I thought that the story she was telling was really important and also riskyâ€”and so was going to require risks. Not only physically, not only with, like, my body, but also emotionally in every capacity. I had my own feelings about it, and I was nervous and things like that. But I never doubted it.
And definitely did not talk to your father about it.
Definitely did not go to my father for advice on that one. Definitely did not. We had a different sounding board than my father.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/article/2013/08/27/taylor-schilling-orange-is-the-new-black/