31 “Orange Is The New Black” Behind-The-Scenes Facts Straight From The Cast

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:

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🚨Warning: Massive spoilers ahead for the final season🚨


First, Ryan Murphy originally optioned the rights to Piper Kerman’s book before it was even finished.

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Piper said the rights “reverted back” to her because the series didn’t come out before her book was done.


Creator Jenji Kohan first brought the idea for the series to Showtime and then HBO — of course, both networks passed.

Jojo Whilden / Netflix


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.


Casting director Jen Euston talked about the audition process, saying, “Piper was the hardest role to cast. Jenji said she needed a unicorn.”


Katie Holmes and Kate Hudson were both considered for the role of Piper in the beginning.

Monica Schipper / Getty Images, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Netflix’s VP of Originals Cindy Holland said that they ended up casting relatively unknown actors because it made the show feel more authentic.


Laura Prepon originally auditioned for Piper before booking the role of Alex — Taylor and Laura’s chemistry read is what solidified their casting.


When Laura auditioned for Piper, Jenji said, “I don’t believe that girl would be scared in prison.”


Natasha Lyonne wanted to be cast as Lorna when she first heard about the show.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images, Netflix

She said, “I remember thinking that character made more sense because I was really in a place of just trying to get a job.”


Meanwhile, Yael Stone, who played Lorna, auditioned for Nicky.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images, Netflix

When she ended up auditioning for Lorna she bought bright red lipstick and imagined that Lorna would have the accent.


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.”


The book is dedicated to her.


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.


Piper said, “Laverne Cox’s casting is one of the most important things that has ever happened on television.”


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.


Once the show was picked up for a Season 2 (even before Season 1 aired) Jenji and Laura worked to get her back on the show because audiences loved her so much.


After the success of the first season, notable celebrities wanted to be in the show, but they turned them away.


Jen Euston said, “Once you put a celebrity in that prison, the show’s over.”


The creators let Samira Wiley know that Poussey was going to die long before they told the rest of the cast.


The writers looked at other characters to kill instead because Poussey was so beloved, but in the end her being so beloved allowed the death to have the biggest impact.


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.

Jojo Whilden / Netflix

Jenji said, “Piper having a meeting and then selling the show and having her watch someone playing her. We toyed with it.”


The producers and writers visited real life I.C.E. detention centers while they were writing the final season.


Jenji said, “We had speakers, lawyers and experts in the area of immigration come to the room. The visit to Adelanto was devastating. And now it’s sadly worse than what we even saw then.”


Kate Mulgrew was the one who suggested Red have dementia instead of Alzheimer’s in the final season.


Kate’s mother had Alzheimer’s and she felt like they couldn’t accurately explore the disease in just 13 episodes.


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.


Dascha said, “Her curiosity as a mother, her artistry — that all became obsolete. That’s what happens when you have no hope.”


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.


Piper said, “That’s the first time I’ve put on a prison uniform since I was released from prison.”


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.

Jojo Whilden / Netflix

The lyrics all deal with the characters and Danielle’s time filming the show.


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.

Jojo Whilden / Netflix

You can check out The Hollywood Reporter’s full OITNB article here!