Jenji Kohan’s groundbreaking dramedy Orange Is the New Black began with Piper Chapman’s (Taylor Schilling) imprisonment, and its seventh — and final — season finds her readjusting to life on the outside.
“She’s beginning to navigate what it’s like to live in the civilian world again, and learning that freedom doesn’t come immediately when she steps outside of prison,” Schilling tells EW. “She becomes a little bit bolder expressing what she wants rather than trying to fit in and make it about other people.”
One of the challenges Piper faces in the new season is being separated from Alex (Laura Prepon), whom she married at the end of season 6 before her release. “That’s really what gets dealt with in the season. I think that ends up being what is explored most,” says Schilling. “Piper really realizes that Alex is fundamentally a part of her journey. That’s the choice that Piper is making, that Alex’s love is very important to her.”
As the Netflix series reaches the end of its sentence, Schilling hopes season 7 helps “people feel seen, and that there’s a reflection in the series of what has been happening to the cultural collective.”
#TBT#BTS to this exact day 3 years ago when we filmed what would be Poussey’s final moments. So many emotions. I loved that we were all there for this scene. We all listened intently as the director explained how this scene would be carefully laid out. We were all there for Samira as she beautifully portrayed this tragic reality. And we were all there to say goodbye to Poussey, such a light. It was a long night. We worked until about 1 in the morning. We were all tired, but we knew we were doing something so great and monumental that night. #blacklivesmatter.
WE LITERALLY BURNED THE MIDNIGHT OIL.
When did you find out that Piper was getting out of Litchfield?
I believe it was in the same conversation with Jenji about the wedding, halfway through the season, and I wasn’t surprised. She said we’re getting married because Piper is getting out and it’s something that you [Alex] know that she wants. But you kind of know these things are coming. You hear different things and when I’m directing, I know what I have to set up and what’s to come. I knew that Piper was going to get out at some point, and I assumed it was going to be the last episode.
How do you feel about her release in terms of where it can move the show? And do you think it pushes the endgame forward?
Well, the endgame is there. As of now, season seven is our last season. So, the endgame is clear. But the reason that it bums me out, obviously, is because I love working with Taylor. She and I love working together. We’ve been working together for six, seven years now and she’s a wonderful scene partner. We were just together the other day and she was saying, “This sucks. I’m out of prison. When am I going to do scenes with you!” (Laughs.)
Through the glass, in visitation?
Seriously! So, that’s a bummer. That’s obviously the main bummer, because I’ll miss her. But our writers are great, so they will always come up with something. These characters are so well-crafted, especially now. When you get to do a show for this long, you can really craft characters that are full, multidimensional people. And at this point, you’ve been with these women for six seasons, so our writers can just have so much fun playing with all these storylines.