It's Back! We Catch Up With The Cast Of Orange Is The New Black

The cast talks jumpsuits, bunk beds, and everything else prison life


A cast of fierce women, a high stakes prison setting, and poignant stories of self-discovery: Orange Is The New Black packs the whole lot. And, deep breaths, season four has finally landed, promising to be darker than ever before. In the new season's opening episodes the women of Litchfield prison are having to deal with an influx of new inmates: order officially disrupted. ELLE spoke to actors Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Lea DeLaria (Big Boo) about what it's like to star in the addictive, taboo-smashing show. 


ELLE: Routine is an important part of prison life - in real life, what rituals or routines are you really tied to?

Kate Mulgrew: I would say I'm a routinised person. I'm from a very big family, one of eight children, so you learn very young how to regiment yourself. I always plan my next day. I'm a complete scheduler, which is a deficit in my personality but in my creative life it's a plus: if I'm writing a book I'm up by nine to make my tea, to be sitting down at 9.30. I'll break at 12 to have lunch and a walk until 1. Back down till 4. Glass of wine at 5.


Lea Delaria: I think people would be shocked to hear that, as my fiancé [Chelsea Fairless] says, I should be studied by a scientist because I am so neat - everything must be in a certain place, and completely clean. I can't even sit down and enjoy my morning cup of coffee until my house has been put in order from the day before. If we send the laundry away, when it comes back I have to refold it because it's never folded properly. 

ELLE: Are the prison jumpsuits liberating for you as actors?

KM: I am an actress who loves a uniform, and I have always loved it. Give me the uniform. I don't want to change clothes, I find it extremely upsetting, I want to get in to the scene.

LD: It's so liberating, honestly. It makes me so happy not to have to sit in a makeup chair for five hours, not to have to go over with the wardrobe person what shirt I think looks good. What's great about the jumpsuits is that we can just focus on the work. I'm not thinking about anything but the work or the fun that I'm having between takes. 

ELLE: Stereotypical Hollywood beauty ideals don't really exist on your show… 

KM: How do we feel about it? Again utterly liberated, it's the same as the uniform. We don't have to worry about that. And guess what, as it turns out, you as the viewer share that opinion. Women are just like, 'How great, we can strip down women, nothing could be more fascinating.' I think viewers are tired of watching all of those impossibly beautiful women who have spent exactly six hours in beauty and hair. Because guess how you really feel when you're looking at her: REDUCED! Less than yourself. When you're looking at us you feel elevated, because you're not in prison and you get to exercise compassion. So it's working on every level.

ELLE: In real life, how would you handle being in a dorm room with all these women?

LD: I'd be fine. I'd be OK! (laughs)

KM: Hell, it would be living hell. Wait until you see what happens in season four. living hell becomes living and breathing hell. A hell beyond expression. 

ELLE: If you had to chose, which well known woman would you want to share a bunk bed with?

KM: Judi Dench

LD: Ella Fitzgerald. Ella is my inspiration as a musician and as a feminist. Ella was a feminist long before anyone though of calling it feminism, leaps and bounds outside of the stereotypes or the boundaries that women were confined to at her time. And one of the most talented people that have ever lived. 

Season Four of Orange Is The New Black is available on Netflix on June 17th 

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