“By the time we got to the scene where we were shooting the prosthetic penises, they were already members of the cast and crew,” says Taylor Schilling, luminous in a dimly lit Tribeca hotel room as she waxes on straight-faced about plastic cocks. “They’d been explored. People had looked at them and poked them. They were legendary. Those prosthetics were legend on our set.”
Schilling, the Emmy-nominated star of Orange Is the New Black, is discussing her raunchy—and surprisingly sweet—new comedy The Overnight, which features a cast of four (she’s joined by Adam Scott as her husband, and Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche as neighbors they befriend) bonding intensely and almost unfathomably over the course of one debaucherous playdate.
As has already made headlines out of the film’s premieres at various festivals, including Sundance and Tribeca, the movie features a gallery of paintings of women’s anuses; a scene in which Schwartzman and Scott don prosthetic “members” to appear, respectively, horse-hung and hindered by a micropenis; and culminates in a bisexual orgy between the film’s four leads.
The beauty of the film, however, is how it parlays outrageous sight gags and headline-baiting titillation—hello, orgies!—to tell a story that’s far deeper than the amount of words being written about its more eyebrow-raising antics would indicate.
How fitting, then, that The Overnight hits theaters (on June 19) so close to the Season 3 premiere of Schilling’s other big project, Orange Is the New Black.
It’s a series that’s found its intense and superficial interest in its female nudity, lesbian love scenes, and gritty depictions of female incarceration give way to an appreciation for its complex storytelling of the range of the female experience, visibility for actors of colors and body shapes that have been shamefully ignored by Hollywood, and a tragicomic tone at once so whimsical and harrowing that it’s nearly impossible to properly articulate.
When Season 3 returns, Schilling’s Piper, though still very much the lead of the series, is seamlessly integrated into the ensemble of Litchfield inmates as, so many months into her prison sentence, her fish-out-of-water horror and naiveté develops into a more hardened acceptance of her new life.
We know precious few details about the upcoming third season, which launches on Netflix Friday night, beyond the fact that Piper’s love interest Alex (played by Laura Prepon) is back and her husband Larry (played by Jason Biggs) is not—both to the delight of fans.
We talked to Schilling about the Larry hate, the return of OITNB, The Overnight’s orgy, bonding with prosthetic penises, and so much more.
This is a crazy movie.
What is it about a script for a movie with orgies and prosthetic penises that you think…
What makes me think this is for me?
I initially felt quite concerned.
This could be either brilliant or the most embarrassing thing you do in your life.
Yes. It could be off the charts. It could be a disaster. What heartened me and what I was so excited about is that (writer/director) Patrick Brice had a very clear vision of taking something that could be quite harsh and raunchy and clearly wild and incredibly sexual, and instead of sexualizing it he was so interested in telling the story through the lens of really authentic human relationships. And also I loved the lens of kindness and acceptance and real curiosity about these people. There is this theme of self-acceptance throughout the movie—and the redemptive quality of that.
You saw the movie beyond the orgies, anus paintings, and prosthetic cocks.
(Laughs) With Patrick, I was fascinated to take his sensibility of honesty and authenticity and real moment-to-moment scene work and really naturalistic gritty way of shooting, and pair that with these broad, comic situations. That felt new to me. That felt like something I was curious about.
The movie’s already getting a great response from festival screenings. What’s been striking a chord beyond the headline-baiting raunchier moments?
I love these movies that are more situational and arch, but often the jokes are more reactionary and the comedy is more superficial. There’s a core of kindness in this movie. And I think there’s a greater underlying issue in which we all have things about ourselves we think no one will accept and are too weird to be shared with the world. And what happens when we share those things and we are embraced and loved even more? This movie lays out that scenario, and then the characters are met with a great amount of love, and lives are bettered.
It’s nice to see a couple that likes each other. So many times couples in comedies are antagonistic and naggy.
You picked up on exactly what I thought was so interesting about Emily. They love each other so much. There’s nothing naggy-wifey about it. There’s nothing to judge, and she’s not judging the situation. She’s just really trying to understand what’s going on. They care about each other and love each other very much. Their relationship only gets closer by having this expansive night. Isn’t that the most amazing idea about a relationship? That as you expand as a human individually your relationship gets closer?
Not to get too gritty into the state of women in Hollywood, but it must be so rare to find a female lead in a raunchy comedy that isn’t what we’re saying. Who’s not a shrew. Who’s warm, but still very funny.
Can’t be dismissed as a nag or a bitch or a killjoy. There’s nothing about her that’s a killjoy. There’s nothing about her that’s a bitch. There’s nothing about her that’s naggy. She’s really just trying to understand what’s going on in any way. And not to be hypersexualized either. There’s not really a space for the middle ground, and she embodies that I think.
When you work on a movie that’s a cast of four, I imagine you get very close. But you shoot a scene like the orgy scene. You shoot a skinny-dipping scene. You shoot a scene where Adam and Jason are swinging prosthetic dicks. Even though you’re a close, intimate cast, what’s it like filming those scenes?
Those were all just really funny, to be honest with you. There was nothing that was particularly awkward about any of that. By the time we got to the scene where we were shooting the prosthetic penises, they were already a member of the cast and crew. They’d been explored. People had looked at them and poked them. They were legendary. Those prosthetics were legend on our set. So by the time we finally shot it, it was already absurd. But the way Jason and Adam were dancing was even funnier.
And then in an insane coincidence, or an example of an embarrassment of riches, this premieres the week after Orange Is the New Black returns for Season 3.
Isn’t it amazing? I can’t even—there are some moments in life where I just want to pinch myself. It feels so good. I’m so proud of this movie. I think it’s such a sweet movie. It’s a fun thing to watch, and I think you can leave feeling a little better about yourself and the state of whatever: the state of your body, the state of your relationship, the state of your sexual preferences. You can leave feeling a little bit a part of it all. I love this movie, and I can’t believe it’s coinciding with the TV show in this way.
The timing is nice, too, to remind people who only know you or think of you as Piper what you’re capable of.
It’s super exciting. And to have it right in tandem. I love Piper so much. And it is exciting to explore other things.
When you do something like this movie, do you bring the experience back with you to the OITNB set? Does it change Piper at all?
Yeah. I think that every character I play changes with every life experience I have. It’s really part and parcel of the experience. So I don’t know if it’s in conscious and specific ways, or ways that I can point to. But every time I change—and with every new experience I have I shift. My perspective on the world shifts and deepens around other humans and what they’re going through. What I have to bring to the table as an actor broadens.
How is Piper changing going into Season 3?
I think she’s broken outside of a box. She’s really let go of old ideas of who she thought she was. And she doesn’t know who that is. She really doesn’t know. She’s starting in Season 3 to play in a lot more shades of gray. I imagine it like a kid walking for the first time. Or wings being outstretched and seeing your own wingspan. And it happens bumblingly. But I think Piper’s life was really black and white for a long time and her experience in prison has opened her up to many shades of gray.
Yes, many shades of gray.
And not just fucking Fifty Shades of Grey. (Laughs) There’s less rigidity in the way she sees the world.
In Season 1, Piper is a character whose experience we could all relate to. The fish out of water. Now she fits in there, with the other prisoners. What has it been like going from that person who is, on the surface, very relatable to this place that you have a harder time empathizing with in your own life: being comfortable in prison.
Yes, clearly I can’t relate to being in prison. But I do think that underneath the surface mask that we all think we can relate to within each other, for me at least, there’s an even more fundamental part of me that always feels like an outsider; and always feels like I have way more different parts of me than the world sees. So in a sense, I think there’s a part of Piper that’s becoming even more relatable as she becomes more distant from the norm. She’s just touching realer parts of herself that don’t conform to what we usually think of as a normal person.
It makes her more interesting.
Totally! And I think we’re all that interesting. We just don’t always know that.
It takes something like this.
It takes something like prison, or something equivalent. A drastic life change to say, “This is who I really am.” “Wow, I’m this dynamic?” “Wow, I can allow this many elements of myself to breathe?”
Without spoiling too much for people who haven’t gotten to see the new season yet, let’s talk about things that the public already knows about it. For example, we know that Larry (Jason Biggs) isn’t returning.
That was always such a polarizing storyline, Piper’s relationship with Larry. Why do you think that was the case?
Well, I loved it. I loved the tension between the two and the ambiguity of that and the fluidity of that. But I also think as one progresses in life, the path narrows. That dichotomy couldn’t exist forever. We had to move on. But I also don’t think it’s over.
But what is it that you think polarized people? Some people are really happy that Larry is gone and the storyline is gone, and a lot of people are upset and are going to miss seeing that part of Piper’s life.
Um…well, I imagine that we all just have different experiences. It’s kind of like how people see the world in different ways, and I’m sure can relate different experiences in their own life to Larry and that story. That’s the interesting thing: When things are that polarizing, I really feel like it’s hitting a personal chord with people. Because it’s their stuff they’re bringing to the table about how things on the show are impacting them. So I love it. I think it’s very exciting.