Actress Laura Prepon is no stranger to standing in front of the camera, and now with the most recent season of #OrangeIstheNewBlack, she has found a seat behind the camera. Prepon who plays inmate Alex Vause on the groundbreaking #Netflix hit, made her directorial debut for the show's tenth episode in Season 5.
Prepon joins the ranks of some pretty impressive names who have directed on the series — including Jodie Foster, Andrew McCarthy and the show's very own Caputo, Nick Sandow. Prepon, however, is the first to direct and act in the same episode of #OITNB, and it's one that fans will remember for a particularly disturbing scene. She recently shared insight on her experience.
Note: Heavy spoilers for Orange Is the New Black follow.
'The Reverse Midas Touch'
Prepon directed one of the most intense episodes in one of the most intense seasons to date, Season 5, Episode 10, "The Reverse Midas Touch," which includes the power struggle between Red (Kate Mulgrew) and head guard Piscatella (Brad William Henke) finally boiling over. Piscatella has broken into the prison during the inmate takeover and has been sneaking around taking hostages. When Red notices her friends start to go missing, she eventually finds them bound and gagged in a janitor's closet.
Piscatella's plan was to lure Red and torture her while her closest friends are forced to watch. The members in the closet include Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), Blanca (Laura Gomez), Boo (Lea Delaria), Piper (Taylor Schilling) and of course, Prepon herself as Alex.
The scene is one of the most disturbing in the show's history as the violence takes a turn into mental and physical abuse by an authority figure. Piscatella degrades Red while shearing off her hair with a knife, punishing anyone who tries to intervene.
'Every Few Takes Someone Would ... Pull The Duct Tape Off My Mouth'
Directing such a harrowing scene would be difficult enough, but try acting with your hands bound and your mouth duct-taped! Oh, and let's not forget being wrapped in a shower curtain. Prior to being taken hostage by Piscatella, Piper and Alex were in the shower together. Prepon spoke about the struggle of filming the scene with THR:
"I’m wrapped on the floor with my legs and arms bound and with duct tape over my mouth, and I’m having to be Alex, but I’m watching Brad give Piscatella’s monologue and I’m also directing him.
While I’m sitting on the floor bound and gagged, I’m also in my head thinking, 'In the next take I want him to do this.'"
The harrowing scene not only proved difficult material-wise but also on a technical level:
"They would wrap Taylor and I up and two stunt guys would have to lower us to the ground. It was crazy. We couldn’t move. They bound us up and our stunt guy would literally lower us to the ground and there were times where I needed two people to help me get down because we couldn't. Then every few takes someone would come in and pull the duct tape off my mouth so I could talk to people."
The scene took two days to film, and due to the subject material and grueling physical requirements — including Piscatella breaking Alex's arm — Prepon planned it on a Friday and Monday to give her costars a weekend to recharge. Keeping those emotions present while pulling double-duty proves why Prepon was chosen for this admirable role.
'This Episode Was A Wonderful Experience'
As a director, Prepon had nothing but praise for her costars. Her goal was to make sure that everyone was comfortable, and she especially recalled Kate Mulgrew's performance in the pivotal scene:
"She did a very beautiful job and totally trusted me. She was even game for the stunts. She wanted to do her own stunts to the point where I was telling her, 'Kate, I legally can’t let you be dragged across the floor by the hair!' She told Brad, 'Just grab my hair.' She is hardcore. It was obviously difficult because of the subject matter, but as a director and as actors, this episode was a wonderful experience. Everyone is really proud of the episode, as am I."
Much of the critical focus is on this one scene, but Prepon deserves credit for tackling the whole episode, including an interesting flashback into Piscatella's past. And of course, the rescue from the women in Freida's bunker.
There is no question that OITNB has one of the most impressive casts on #TV. The show has provided glass ceiling-shattering opportunities for its diverse cast and crew, making them a prime example of the capability of women in media.
Having the chance to work along her costars in a new capacity must have been a unique experience for Prepon. The cast is like a big family who love and support one another on and off the screen, so it will be interesting to see how cast's involvement on the other side of the camera will continue to evolve.
Orange Is the New Black Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.
What do you think about the episode that Laura Prepon directed? Tell us in the comments below!
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]