Laura Prepon talks about filming the last scene with Taylor Schilling and more
You shared your audition story [Prepon first read for the role of Piper before creator Jenji Kohan tailored Alex for her]. During your chemistry read with Taylor Schilling (watch here), they said the match was made. What do you remember?
As soon as I met Taylor, I totally got it. Such a wonderful actress who has this softness to her, but also through the years, you really lean into her strength. She was just perfect for Piper. Then as soon as we worked together, we knew this was going to be great. And you can only hope for that type of thing to happen. It’s rare — I’m telling you, it’s rare. After having the good fortune to do this for over 20 years, it’s rare when you have those moments of that special connection and we have that.
Major spoilers for how it ends + NEW still after the jump
You filmed the first season all at once and in a vacuum. What was it like when you got to set and you and Schilling filmed your first scene?
Taylor and I had the chemistry read and then our first scene ever was that opening shower scene [in the first episode]. We were so comfortable with each other and immediately just very respectful. Taylor is a total pro. Whenever we were doing a scene like that she and I talked everything out: “My hands are going to be here, what are you comfortable with? What are you not comfortable with?” It’s always a little weird being like, “I’m naked in a shower with this woman I just met and there’s a camera and a crew out there!” But it wasn’t gratuitous. I knew there was nudity and my main thing is to make sure that it feeds the story. Not having limits [with Netflix] really let us express how we thought the characters should be portrayed. And it gave Jenji the creative freedom to tell the story she wants to tell. It’s very cool having that, rather than having a network micro-manage everything.
Alex and Piper became an overnight “Ross and Rachel” at a time when a starring same-sex relationship was groundbreaking. What was it like to be on the receiving end of that?
It was totally new. When the show really took off and was becoming mainstream, there wasn’t another relationship like Alex and Piper anywhere. That’s one of the amazing things about Orange, is that we take on these storylines that are not normally represented. I was just so happy to be portraying a relationship that women could relate to when there wasn’t anything out there for them. People were coming up with things like #Vauseman and dressing up like us for Halloween. But the thing that really matters to me is that people felt like they could identify with us and that they felt represented by Alex and Piper.
Hearing you say that, does it now feel even more right that they end up together in the end? They get to live on in the hall of fame of TV couples.
You have to do that. Who knew what was going to happen with the fact that we do go against so many norms on this show. Truthfully, I didn’t know if Alex and Piper were going to end up together. But I hoped, because you want them to be together. You’ve invested all this time with these women — the good, the bad and the ugly of the relationship. Piper and Alex have gone through so much. You want to see them together and you want fans to feel fulfilled. It would have been an injustice to not have them together at the end. I’m really glad that that happened.
What was it like to film that final Alex and Piper scene to end the series finale?
We just kind of laughed. That wasn’t actually our last day. It was the last scene of us together, but Taylor and I still had more days on set so that freed us up to have fun, so we weren’t crying the whole time! When we were doing this last season, we were happy that it ended with them being together. Because we do a lot of things that are realistic on our show, a lot of times it’s not a happy ending. I wasn’t sure if they were going to go the ultra-realistic route and keep them apart, or if they were going to give that to the fans and have Alex and Piper be together. Luckily, they did. Piper Kerman was there that day and Larry [Smith] — the real Piper and “Alex” are sitting to our left in that visitation scene. Taylor and I were really just in the moment. We were embracing the fact that the series was coming to an end and we got each other through it. Taylor and I are great friends but, who knows when we’re going to be on camera together again? We were reveling in how special this whole journey has been.
How do you picture their future after the screen fades to orange?
Well, Alex and Piper end up together. I think they both learned a lot from these years in prison and they’ll take that with them. I’m hoping that they use that to treat each other a lot better, which I’m sure they will. Because at the end of the day, love is love is love. And Alex and Piper love each other, so you just figure it out.
You can read the full interview here