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Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): 'Orange Is the New Black' star Uzo Aduba on bringing Crazy Eyes to life

Trying to choose your favorite Orange Is the New Black character is like trying to choose your favorite Olivia Pope ensemble — nearly impossible. Yet even though the show is stacked with unforgettable creations — Red! Taystee! Pennsatucky! Miss Claudette! Nicky! Pornstache, even! — one stands out from the pack: Suzanne Warren, best known among Litchfield’s inmates as Crazy Eyes.

At this point, however, it’s tough for any fan of the show to use Suzanne’s unkind nickname in good conscience. Sure, she tends to come on just a little too strong — but she’s also a kind, delightfully unfiltered presence with a generous heart (she’ll throw her pie for you) and the soul of a poet. Oh, and she happens to be pretty hilarious as well.

How does a normal actress get into the headspace of Piper Chapman’s would-be prison wife? To find out, we turned to Uzo Aduba, the Broadway vet who counts Suzanne as her very first big TV role. Read on to learn how Aduba got the part (fun fact: she didn’t even audition for it originally), what went through her mind when she read episode 3’s notorious floor-peeing scene, and what she can say about season 2. (Hint: Unfortunately, it’s not much.)

Click here for more of’s Best of 2013 coverage.


'Orange Is the New Black': Matt McGorry on playing cute guard Bennett and being a piece of meat

Matt McGorry did not go directly to jail. Instead, he started performing at just 11 years old, when a flair for card tricks and making little foam balls disappear led to a brief stint as a street magician. (“It’s funny — it didn’t seem weird at the time,” he told EW during a recent office visit. “But in retrospect, my parents really had a lot of trust in me.”)

From there, McGorry moved on to bigger and better things — New York City’s famous LaGuardia performing arts high school, Emerson College, and an acting career both enhanced and stymied by his second gig as a competitive bodybuilder. (At his peak, the NY native could deadlift 576 pounds.) Even though McGorry was finding steady-ish work in funny web videos — a friend at College Humor told him “that they’re always looking for buff dudes and hot girls, because those are, I guess, rarities in the comedy community” — he realized eventually that his impressive stature would mean a future of typecasting.

So McGorry put down the weights, renewed his focus on acting — and nabbed the role of John Bennett on Orange Is the New Black, Netflix’s buzzy series about a women’s prison. Just like that, the guy who was once relegated to playing “Frat Friend” and “EMT #1″ found himself getting increasingly juicier material and acting for guest director Jodie Foster. (“When I saw Jodie Foster [written on a script], I went to IMDB,” he remembered. “I was like, ‘Is there another Jodie Foster? With like, a Q at the end?'”). Once the series premiered to rave reviews, McGorry also found himself becoming a bona-fide heartthrob — complete with a fawning Buzzfeed tribute that’s been viewed almost 200,000 times.

How does McGorry feel about his sudden-onset success, his character’s arc — and a possible Bennett/Pornstache spinoff? You won’t have to travel directly to Litchfield to find out.

'Orange Is the New Black': 'Weeds' creator Jenji Kohan talks about her women-in-prison Netflix show

In writer-producer Jenji Kohan’s new show Orange Is the New Black, a woman gets in trouble because of drugs. Sound familiar? That may be because because Kohan’s previous show, Weeds, was also about a woman getting into trouble because of, uh, drugs.

“I love it when people screw up and try to make things better,” says Kohan. “I think some of the sensibilities are the same because there’s a certain tone that I have. But Orange is its own beast.”

A caged beast, in fact. The largely prison-set Orange is based on Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir of the same name, which details the 13 months the Smith College graduate served behind bars as a result of having, years previously, transported cash for her then-girlfriend, an international drug smuggler. Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One) stars as Piper Chapman, and Laura Prepon plays Chapman’s ex-lover and fellow inmate. Other prisoners are portrayed by Kate Mulgrew and Natasha Lyonne, while Jason Biggs is Chapman’s fiancé.

The latter character is an echo of the real-life boyfriend to whom Piper Kerman became engaged after growing out of her wild, female drug smuggler-dating ways, although Kohan says the pair’s onscreen relationship is a fictionalization: “We made all that sh-t up. But what was interesting is we would make stuff up and then Piper would sometimes tell us, ‘Wow, that was a little close.’ Which we felt meant we were doing something right.”

Below, Kohan talks more about Orange is the New Black, the entire first season of which is now available on Netflix.

Netflix sets release date for 'Orange is the New Black'

Orange is the New Black, Jenji Kohan’s new dramedy, will premiere its 13 one-hour episodes on Netflix on July 11.

An adaptation of Piper Kerman’s memoir (subtitled, “My Year in a Women’s Prison”), Orange stars Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, who ends up behind bars thanks to a long-ago relationship with a drug runner played by Laura Prepon. Jason Biggs’ is Piper’s fiancé. Kohan will serve as exec producer, writing the first and last episodes of the series, which will be her first project following Weeds.



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