To celebrate the series finale of Orange Is the New Black, The Hollywood Reporter gathered several cast members, writers, and producers to discuss the groundbreaking Netflix series. Here’s what we learned:
First, Ryan Murphy originally optioned the rights to Piper Kerman’s book before it was even finished.
Creator Jenji Kohan first brought the idea for the series to Showtime and then HBO — of course, both networks passed.
Netflix ordered Orange Is the New Black straight to series without even a pilot script.
Taylor Schilling didn’t book the role of Piper until two weeks before filming began.
Katie Holmes and Kate Hudson were both considered for the role of Piper in the beginning.
Laura Prepon originally auditioned for Piper before booking the role of Alex — Taylor and Laura’s chemistry read is what solidified their casting.
Natasha Lyonne wanted to be cast as Lorna when she first heard about the show.
Meanwhile, Yael Stone, who played Lorna, auditioned for Nicky.
Originally, Taystee was named Delicious (like in the book) and she was only going to be in two episodes.
Uzo Aduba auditioned for the role of Janae, but they loved her so much they offered her the role of Suzanne.
Lea DeLaria was brought in to play a prison guard, but then Jenji wrote Big Boo specifically for her.
Dascha Polanco didn’t know if Daya was going to be in Season 2 — she was going to finish studying to be a nurse if she didn’t continue on the show.
In the original script, Blanca didn’t even have a name. She was simply described as “crazy woman in the bathroom stall talking to the devil.”
“Black Cindy” was named after Cindy Holland, who was the first person at Netflix to give the green light for the series.
Piper Kerman said the inspiration for Red’s character was a woman named Pop who “essentially saved my life in prison.”
One of the “easiest roles to cast” on the show was Laverne Cox as Sophia. They knew from the very beginning that they wanted her involved.
During most of Season 1, Danielle Brooks was only making “a little less than $1,000” per episode.
Most of the actors on the show were living “contract to contract” in the beginning. A lot of them didn’t know if they’d be returning after they finished an episode or season.
In fact, Laura Prepon didn’t have a standard six-year contract at the start, which is why Alex disappeared for a little while in Season 2.
After the success of the first season, notable celebrities wanted to be in the show, but they turned them away.
The creators let Samira Wiley know that Poussey was going to die long before they told the rest of the cast.
The end of the series wasn’t determined until the writers got together to plan Season 7.
For a while the running joke on set was that the series would end with Jenji Kohan pitching a series about Piper’s life to Netflix.
The producers and writers visited real life I.C.E. detention centers while they were writing the final season.
Kate Mulgrew was the one who suggested Red have dementia instead of Alzheimer’s in the final season.
One of the hardest scenes for Natasha Lyonne to film during the series finale was when Nicky assumes Red’s role in the kitchen — she told Kate Mulgrew that she couldn’t stop crying.
Dascha Polanco wished there was some closure between Bennett, Daya, and their daughter, but she understood why it wasn’t included because Daya had changed dramatically.
The idea for the Poussey Washington Fund came after Jenji Kohan went to San Quentin Prison and listened to a TED Talk about financial literacy.
During Piper and Alex’s final scene, you can spot the real life Piper and her husband Larry.
The song that plays over the closing credits in the series finale was written and performed by Danielle Brooks — she wrote the song while filming the final season and performed it for everyone after they wrapped.
And finally, according to Netflix, 105 million subscribers have watched at least one episode of OITNB, making it the most watched show in Netflix history.
You can check out The Hollywood Reporter’s full OITNB article here!