Over the course of its seven-season run, Orange Is The New Black shocked fans with the ups and downs of prison life, leaving them wondering which parts were true to Piper Kerman’s real-life story and which were fabricated for the purpose of the show. The creator, Jenji Kohan, took the characters on a turbulent journey, while fans watched their lives spiral out of control.
The surprises didn’t just happen on the screen, however. Behind the scenes, there were also some surprises and facts that many casual OINTB fans may not be aware of.
Lea DeLaria Was Originally Set To Play A Prison Guard
Lea DeLaria played Big Boo in the Netflix series, but wasn’t originally set to play the inmate according to HuffPost. Boo may not have ranked among OINTB‘s most intelligent characters, but fans remember her larger-than-life personality and her sometimes wicked ways. What some might not know, however, is that Boo wasn’t originally a part of the show.
DeLaria first auditioned for one of the show’s correctional officers, a much smaller role, and then for the part of Anita DeMarco, but failed to secure either. DeLaria was dismayed, but the story ultimately has a happy ending, as the show’s creators loved her so much they wrote the part of Big Boo especially for her. DeLaria was iconic in OITNB, and fans would have missed out on her rapier wit and dark humor.
Red And Piper Have Starred Together Before
Fans will know Piper as OINTB‘s naive central character and Red as the feared yet highly respected chef and prison mother. The two didn’t get off to the best starts but they soon found their feet and became close as the series progressed. What fans might not have known is that Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew, who played Piper and Red respectively, had previously appeared on screen together in the short-lived medical drama Mercy.
Mercy was axed due to low ratings after just one season in 2009. Schilling appeared as the show’s main character, Veronica Callahan, while Mulgrew played her mother. From real family to prison family, this pairing kept fans on their toes!
Samira Wiley Found Love Behind The Scenes
Samira Wiley gave fans the iconic Poussey Washington up until the character’s death in season 4. Poussey’s death broke OINTB fans’ hearts, but her presence lived on throughout the whole series. Wiley not only made an impression on the screen but she made one behind the scenes too, according to Out.
Fans loved her, and so did writer and producer Lauren Morelli. Orange Is The New Black featured many turbulent relationships, but off-screen Samira and Lauren were happy and thriving. Lauren was originally married but left her husband to be with Samira in 2014 and proposed in 2016. The pair married in 2017 and even have a daughter together (per The Hollywood Reporter).
The Opening Credits Are The Real Women
The opening credits of Orange Is The New Black holds a special place in fans’ hearts. The credits, set to Regina Spektor’s “You’ve Got Time,” show the faces of many different women. However, what fans may not know is that the women are all real ex-inmates, as reported by HuffPost.
The real-life Piper Chapman (real name Piper Kerman) also appears in the sequence. Fans can identify her as the one who blinks! Kerman put her heart and soul into the series. While fans know the show was very loosely based on her real-life story, they appreciated the small tidbits of Piper’s real life experience littered throughout.
The Writers Researched At A Women’s Prison
In order to make the show what it was, the writers also had to do their own research. Fans won’t be surprised to hear, according to a piece by writer Carolina Piaz for Buzzfeed, that the writers visited real-life I.C.E detention centers when they were working on the final season.
Fans were addicted to the show because it gave them drama, but it was believable and always grounded in real-life experiences. They knew that the inmates were in there to survive, and sometimes it was a choice between them, or someone else. Fans were the first to say the writers did a fantastic job portraying the devastating effects time in prison can have on people’s lives.
Laura Prepon Spent Time As A Director
Laura Prepon played Alex Vause, Piper’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. But Prepon didn’t spend her whole time in front of the cameras, as she actually took a turn at directing some of the show’s later episodes.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Laura’s OITNB directing debut came in season 5, episode 10. Prepon also starred in the episode, so had to make the switch from actor to direct behind the scenes. She executed both jobs flawlessly.
Ryan Murphy Originally Optioned The Rights To Kerman’s Book
Jenji Kohan and the team did an excellent job bringing Piper Kerman’s story to life, building upon the real-life tale with a cast of detailed and vivid characters and storylines that kept fans interested the whole way through the show’s run. However, Orange Is the New Black may have looked very different if the original plans had gone ahead.
The TV rights for Kerman’s book were originally optioned by Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and American Horror Story. However, Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that he could “never figure out how to do it,” and the option eventually lapsed – paving the way for Kohan to take over.
The Real Piper And Larry Appear On The Show
Not only will eagle-eyed fans have spotted Piper Kerman in the show’s opening credits, but Kerman, along with her husband Larry, also appears in Piper and Alex’s final scene of the show.
Fans loved the fact that the real Piper had such input into this series, and her influence over how the story was told is one of the reasons the show became so popular. Orange Is The New Black‘s main cast delivered on high-intensity stories, fan-favorite characters dotted with an element of truth.
Laverne Cox’s Brother Also Appeared In The Show
Laverne Cox played Sophia Burset, a transgender inmate at Litchfield. Fans praised the show for the flashbacks that gave insight into many of the character’s past, detailing how they ended up in prison. Sophia’s flashback included her pre-transition, and the resemblance to Cox was striking. That’s because the role was played by Laverne’s identical twin brother, as detailed by HuffPost.
Cox originally wanted to play pre-transition Sophia herself but explained that members of the team “didn’t think it would work,” arguing that Cox wasn’t masculine enough to be convincing. Upon finding out she has a twin brother, the show’s creators insisted that he should audition for the part.
Laura Prepon Auditioned For Piper
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Laura Prepon originally auditioned for the role of Piper Chapman. Laura wasn’t deemed right for the part of Piper and she was allegedly told that Jenji Kohan didn’t believe Prepon would be scared in prison – a key aspect of Piper’s character in the first season.
Luckily, Prepon secured the role of Alex and delivered the performance with confidence and ease. It would be hard for fans to imagine her as anyone else. Prepon’s chemistry with Taylor Schilling was also palpable, and while some fans think Piper should have been with someone else, the pair kept fans engaged in the romance for seven whole seasons.
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